This seems like it is going to be easy, but I get the feeling I won’t be saying that in a few hours, when I am still here shouting at my computer and wishing that I had never decided to try this out! So enough of the easy stuff, let’s get onto the hard bit!
Right, my work… let’s begin…
…with these very very small animal like things, which I’m afraid have no other name but Escherichia coli or E.coli! (Photo from Wikicommons)
My work focuses on looking at these very very small animals, that can be found pretty much every where in the world and that are very important to life. I am interested in looking at these as they can cause people to get sick as well as making those who are already very sick get worse and become harder to make better. Some of these very very small animals can be killed using something that can stop them growing by attacking their outer or inner cell parts. (Let’s call these things Mr. Antibiotic, so this doesn’t become too confusing to read!). However, as time has gone on many of these very very small animals have stopped being able to be killed this way.
Hello there Mr. Antibiotic! (Photo from ZME Science)
This can be for several reasons:
- The very very small animals have seen Mr. Antibiotic before, but have avoided being attacked/killed (For many reasons!) and have been able to change themselves to stop being killed.
- The very very small animals have met other very very small animals which have been able to change to stop themselves being killed by Mr. Antibiotic and have been ‘told’ how to change to stop being killed too.
- The very very small animals have been near other very very small animals that have left little ‘notes’ on how they have changed to stop being killed. They can then pick up these ‘notes’ and now know how to change too.
I am interested in this as it means that people who are very sick because of these very very small animals can’t be made better using Mr. Antibiotic. This is really bad for people who are very very sick as there aren’t many other things that can help make them better. As time goes on this will eventually mean that we only have a few types of Mr. Antibiotic left (and one day maybe nothing…) to use when people get sick because of these very very small animals. Many people are very worried about this happening as it would mean we have no way to make sick people better if they become sick because of these very very small animals which can’t be killed.
These very very small animals can ‘see’ Mr. Antibiotic and not be killed for many reasons:
- When people take Mr. Antibiotic, but they are sick because of other very very small animals which can’t be killed this way. This allows the very very small animals present to change themselves to stop being killed if they see Mr. Antibiotic again.
- When people are given too little of Mr. Antibiotic to kill all the very very small animals making them sick and this allows the animals time to change themselves to stop being killed.
- When people don’t take Mr. Antibiotic for long enough so all the very very small animals making them sick aren’t killed and this allows the animals time to change themselves to stop being killed.
These very very small animals change in many different ways to stop themselves being killed. One of the these ways is to make things which help to break down Mr. Antibiotic before they can be killed. I am interested in very very small animals which make one type of these things (Again, this is going to get very confusing if I don’t call these things Mrs. Enzyme!). I have been looking for very very small animals which make this one type of Mrs. Enzyme, in the city which I work in.
I have decided to look for them in the water which is used by the city, and then made safe before it is let back into the world again. Once I have this water I use food which the animals love and can grow on to find them. I can then make sure they are what I am looking for by putting them with a few different types of Mr. Antibiotic which I hope they know how to kill by making their one type of Mrs. Enzyme. If they can make their one type of Mrs. Enzyme the animals will live and grow near Mr. Antibiotic, if they can’t they will die.
Where I collect my water and very very small animals from – River Witham, Lincoln, UK
Once I have found as many very very small animals that can make one type of Mrs. Enzyme that breaks down the few different types of Mr. Antibiotic I am then interested in finding out more/other things about them. Such as:
- How a like they are to one another?
- What other things can they make to make sure they live?
- What more can we find out about what one type of Mrs. Enzyme they can make?
I then hope to repeat this work in another city which has different people from different places all over the world who bring different types of very very small animals here. This is very interesting as many people want to find out how many of these very very small animals can’t be killed and if work to stop their numbers getting bigger is helping. This work is really interesting to me as I hope to see what is the same and what is different between the very very small animals in my city and the other city. I would really like to know if very very small animals are very different in different cities, if their numbers are different and if the types of Mrs. Enzyme they make are different too.
I found it quite challenging but really interesting to write this! One thing I found particularly difficult was finding alternative words/explanations for technical terms, which I think I have become very reliant on as a scientist. Is is definitely good fun to really have to think about what all those words actually mean and if you can in fact write correctly and coherently without them. I think I did a fairly good job overall! (Even if I did have to cheat twice…).
If you feel like having a go at explaining your work follow this link!