Blog Archive

Wednesday, 31 August 2016


I’m apparently not satisfied with having a Blog, Twitter and YouTube, so got Instagram too, after this twitter conversation:

I was just throwing the idea of 1 minute videos out there, not even knowing that 1 minute is the Instagram video length limit, but it’s actually been really fun doing them! I’ve done a few so far (I’ll embed them at the bottom of this in case you have like four minutes to spare) and I’m having fun with it. It’s a big challenge, and I think once I run out of all the short basic things to cover it’ll get even harder (as things normally take days, not minutes!) but I love a challenge, and this one is pretty fun! And hopefully worthwhile if it gets more people thinking about microbiology stuff.
So far I haven’t really settled on a specific style, or level at which I’m pitching things, but I’m hoping to make it accessible to everyone no matter their background. Microbiology affects everyone, so everyone should know about it! It’s also really interesting and exciting but isn’t really thought of like that.

Also of course there’s my long-term selfish goal of gaining confidence by doing these videos and things. I’m already feeling some benefits but I’ve got a hugely long way to go!

Anyway, here are the videos I've made so far (with bonus new one I made today!):

And the new one...

I hope you like it! Subscribe to the YouTube for more, or follow my Instagram.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Fiftieth Post! 10 things I've learnt over that time

This is my fiftieth blog post! What?! It's gone so fast! It's also pretty dead-on six months (give or take a day or three) since I started. It's flown by! I thought I'd mark it by doing a post of ten things I've learnt over the last fifty posts/six months. (I've only actually thought of nine right now but I'm hoping one will come to me as I write the rest!)
So here we go:

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Xenobiology; Microbial life on other planets!

When we think of aliens we think of invaders from other worlds, Sigourney Weaver being badass and Arnold Schwarzenegger directing people towards waiting air transport (while also being badass). But, at least in our own solar system, it's most likely that any life we find out there will be microbial. This makes sense; they're much better at living in conditions different to the normal Earth ones! We may have warm jumpers and air conditioning, but there aren't many people who are happy to reproduce in acid lakes or at the bottom of the ocean in hydrothermal vents. Microbes 1, Humans 0.
So are we going to all get crazy space diseases if they come to Earth, much like the end of War of the Worlds when the aliens all get flu?
I'm not an expert in this, I just think it's a cool topic so wanted to write a post on it! There's a lot more to say so it might return in the future, like alien herpes.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Lions! Tigers! Bacillus thuringiensis...? Where are the snappy bacteria names?

In line with my earlier post ( on the scientific language and the barrier it imposes, even the names of microbes pose a problem for this. Especially as they're often a mix of Latin, Greek and Science, which just confuses everyone even more. We call Ursus arcticus a brown bear, Canis lupus familiaris a dog, but there aren't any easy familiar words for microbes. Apart from Yeast, the rockstar of the microbial world, things are either referred to by the name of the disease they cause or just by the long, hard-to-say binomial names. Is that fair?

Saturday, 6 August 2016

Speaking Science

Scientists love big complex words. I've spent this week isolating halophilic endophytes, for example. But why do we do that? And what does it do to the public image of science?

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

What makes me a Scientist?

Science is all about asking questions. But every answer brings further questions; this is why Science never stops! Especially if the original answer is 'I don't know, go and find out!'
This is what drives us forwards; curiosity. Scientists are just people who can't stop asking questions about absolutely everything. As XKCD aptly put it;
Image from XKCD

I think that's a big part of how you become a scientist; you just need to ask questions!