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You think your feelings and emotions are your own, but are they really? What does it mean to be human? Objectively, you could say that being human means being made of human cells. But a typical human actually has more bacteria cells growing in and on them than their own cells. These aren’t just passive residents either. Through their interactions with our brain and our immune system, they influence our lives and even our decision making!

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Petri dishes are used, not for eating, but for growing microorganisms. Let’s say you swab someone’s throat to see what’s growing back there. First, you’d dunk the swab into some liquid nutrient broth and incubate it for a few days. This allows the bacteria to grow to petri dish appropriate levels. Next, you’d dip a little loop into the broth and smear some of the liquid onto agar in a petri dish. Depending on the type of agar you have, you can select for certain types of bacteria. From there, depending on how good your swabbing technique was, you’ll be able to separate out the bacteria cells so that after another few days of incubation, you’ll get individual colonies. After that, it’s just a matter of identifying what kind of bacteria made a particular colony!

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Pipettes are common and so useful in chemistry, biology, and medicine. Sure, you can find them in labs all over the world, but they are also in pharmacies, schools, and even your spice cabinet! These wonderful little tools use suction, created by a partial vacuum, to suck up a specified amount of liquid from one place to another. Sometimes, this is a step in gel electrophoresis. Other times, it’s how you get a couple of drops of medicine into a baby’s mouth.

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The telescope started out as a simple tool for astronomers of the past to get a closer glimpse of the stars and the heavens. The idea was simple – capture light from the skies with our eyes. But as technology and science advanced, people realized there were different types of light coming from outer space, most of it can’t be seen. Telescopes then evolved to capture X-rays, UV light, infrared light, radio waves, and other low and high energy lights. By looking at images from these different telescopes side by side, scientists are able to learn more about stars, nebulas, and black holes by the type of light they spit out.

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The microscope is one of those tools of science that opened up our world. Humans discovered that there was an entire microscopic universe flourishing alongside us. Without this tool, no one would know why we wash our hands after touching something “dirty”. Surgery might still be a last resort because the tools and room wouldn’t be sterilized, leaving the patient to die from infection instead of the disease. Without the microscope, we might still believe that diseases were caused by bad air and bad spirits instead of germs. In short, our world would still be very small and very dangerous.

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