Sunday, June 08, 2008

The Stolen Bacillus

This again,' said the Bacteriologist, slipping a glass slide under the microscope, 'is a preparation of the celebrated Bacillus of cholera - the cholera germ.'

The pale-faced man peered down the microscope. He was evidently not accustomed to that kind of thing, and held a limp white hand over his disengaged eye. 'I see very little,' he said.

'Touch this screw,' said the Bacteriologist; 'perhaps the microscope is out of focus for you. Eyes vary so much. Just the fraction of a turn this way or that.'

'Ah! now I see,' said the visitor. 'Not so very much to see after all. Little streaks and shreds of pink. And yet those little particles, those mere atomies, might multiply and devastate a city! Wonderful!'
H.G. Well's 1895 "The Stolen Bacillus" is a satirical short story about an absent-minded scientist whose work may end up facilitating bioterrorism. It's as timely today as it was 100 years ago.

(via's short story of the day)
Image: image of wild type Cholera from the Dartmouth Electron Microscope Facility

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