Rather than trying to kill dangerous bacteria, Professor Bonnie Bassler is working to modify their behaviour and reveal the bacteria secrets.
Bonnie Bassler “We don’t have to totally win, that’s not the goal. The goal is simply to find out enough to be able to do something useful and then let the next science find out the next thing that’s enough to do something useful.”
Bacteria evolution can occur very rapidly, building resistance to antibiotics at an alarming rate with the development of killer bugs like MRSA.
Many farmers thought it was the best way to keep closely packed animals healthy and for them to grow faster, but Professor Lance Price believes the superbug he was tracking was created, with bacteria evolution, as a result of this kind of antibiotic use.
The failure of William Henry Perkin to manufacture synthetic quinine, produced, in the 1890s, a successful and popular mauve dye.
Perkin’s story is a warning of the potential perils of targeted research. Had he been working in a commercial environment, it’s likely that because the purple dye wasn’t quinine, his further investigations would have been thought to be an expensive waste of time.
Robert Boyle is perhaps Britain’s finest chemist. He is famous for his eponymous Boyle’s Law and noted for his visionary Boyle’s List.
Now, this list would have seemed fantastical to someone in the 17th century. It would have seemed like science fiction, but what I find remarkable about it is that all but two of the 24 things on this list have now been achieved by science, and I suppose that makes Robert Boyle a visionary.
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