+
Heroes

An 8-year-old's bacteria-filled handprint is the coolest thing I've seen all week.

Germs look neat!

Microbiology lab technician Tasha Sturm decided to do something kinda cool with a handprint: see what kind of bacteria is on it.

Sturm, who works at Cabrillo College, told me the first lab project that students at her college do is swab something in the classroom — like the bottom of a shoe or a cellphone — and incubate the plates to see what kinds of bacteria grow all around us.

Years ago, she thought her kids might find it interesting to know what kinds of germs were on their hands. Plus, since it provided such a good lesson for her class, each year she has her kids make a handprint of bacteria — literally.


Sturm's 8-year-old son's handprint on a large TSA plate. Image by Tasha Sturm, originally posted to Microbe World.

So what is all of that stuff?

"The large swirly blob in the lower right ... is more than likely a Bacillus spp," Sturm said, and "the colored colonies are either Serratia or Micrococcus or yeast — normally found in the environment or skin."

"The white circular colonies are more than likely Staphylococcus spp, which again is normally found on the skin. The organism seen between the thumb and pointer finger is a contaminant."

Before you panic because those things all sound gross, it's important to note her deliberate double use of the word "normally" here. But more on that soon.

Here's a close-up of the large swirl that's pictured in the lower right corner of the image above:

So gross ... yet so neat! Image by Tasha Sturm, originally posted to Microbe World.

That's the bacillus, which is a bacteria often found in soil and water.

Don't freak out about what's on your and your kids' hands just yet — not all bacteria are bad!

Harmless ones that live on or in our bodies do not cause disease. "We have a large number of bacteria that live 'with us' that are beneficial," Sturm explained. "Some aide in digestion, make vitamin K, etc."

She assured me that the bacteria in the handprint are "part of the bodies normal flora and do not make us sick unless the person is immunocompromised, such as [through] a break in the skin."

"People who are healthy come in contact with millions of bacteria every day with adverse effect," she said, "Coming in contact with bacteria actually strengthens our immune system."

Win-win!

However, there are some bacteria that can make you sick — some cause salmonella, and there are particular strains of staph, E. coli, and bacillus, for example, that are bad.

"When these get into the wrong place in the body, they will make us sick," she explained. But fear not! "Most times these bacteria are not something we come in contact with."



It's OK to let your kids get dirty!

"Unless your kids have a health condition that requires you to be more vigilant," Sturm said, "let them have fun and get dirty; it's what they need to develop a healthy immune system."

But for the love of everything, practice good hand-washing.

After using the bathroom and before eating, everyone should wash their hands well. (I mean, seriously.)

"As microbiologists, our job, especially in education, is to make the invisible world visible so it's easier to understand," Sturm says. "I think the image of the handprint was a graphic way to show others what's out there and the beauty of microbiology. I think this image did just that."

Take another look and find instructions for creating one of these yourself below:



Want to do this experiment with your kids? You totally can. I asked Sturm for step-by-step directions on how to recreate this cool bit of science for any parents who might want to do it with their kids (or, ahem, any adults) and here's what she said: "We used a large Tryptic soy agar (TSA) plate. TSA is a nutrient agar that is used by microbiologist to culture bacterial that has the consistency of hard jello. My son placed his hand gently on the plate making sure to pressing the fingers/palm to make contact with the agar. The plate was covered with the lid and place in a 37 degree C incubator for 24-48 hours. Incubate agar side up. This will grow the normal flora on the hand like Staph., Micrococcus, etc. Take the plate out and let it incubate/set out with the lid on at room temperature (22 degrees C) for several days (3+ days). Normal flora will continue to grow (slowly) and yeast/fungi will start to grow....usually colored colonies (red/pink/yellow). Something to remember is that one colony, or one blob/circular growth seen on the agar, came from the growth or multiplication of one bacteria. We are giving that one bacteria the perfect growing conditions nutritionally incubating it in a warm incubator, 37 degree's C. Once the plate has grown for 24-48 hrs and the bacteria have multiplied it is considered a biohazard and needs to be disposed of appropriately."

Science is so cool!

Family

Two couples move in together with their kids to create one big, loving 'polyfamory'

They are using their unique family arrangement to help people better understand polyamory.

The Hartless and Rodgers families post together


Polyamory, a lifestyle where people have multiple romantic or sexual partners, is more prevalent in America than most people think. According to a study published in Frontiers in Psychology, one in nine Americans have been in a polyamorous relationship, and one in six say they would like to try one.

However popular the idea is, polyamory is misunderstood by a large swath of the public and is often seen as deviant. However, those who practice it view polyamory as a healthy lifestyle with several benefits.

Taya Hartless, 28, and Alysia Rogers, 34, along with their husbands Sean, 46, and Tyler, 35, are in a polyamorous relationship and have no problem sharing their lifestyle with the public on social media. Even though they risk stigmatization for being open about their non-traditional relationships, they are sharing it with the world to make it a safer place for “poly” folks like themselves.

Keep ReadingShow less
Family

Professional tidier Marie Kondo says she's 'kind of given up' after having three kids

Hearing Kondo say, 'My home is messy,' is sparking joy for moms everywhere.

Marie Kondo playing with her daughters.

Marie Kondo's book, "The Life-Changing Art of Tidying Up," has repeatedly made huge waves around the world since it came out in 2010. From eliminating anything that didn't "spark joy" from your house to folding clothes into tiny rectangles and storing them vertically, the KonMari method of maintaining an organized home hit the mark for millions of people. The success of her book even led to two Netflix series.

It also sparked backlash from parents who insisted that keeping a tidy home with children was not so simple. It's one thing to get rid of an old sweater that no longer brings you joy. It's entirely another to toss an old, empty cereal box that sparks zero joy for you, but that your 2-year-old is inexplicably attached to.

To be fair, Kondo never forced her way into anyone's home and made them organize it her way. But also to be fair, she didn't have kids when she wrote her best-selling book on keeping a tidy home. The reality is that keeping a home organized and tidy with children living in it is a whole other ballgame, as Kondo has discovered now that she has three kids of her own.

Keep ReadingShow less
All illustrations are provided by Soosh and used with permission.

I have plenty of space.

This article originally appeared on 04.09.16


It's hard to truly describe the amazing bond between dads and their daughters.

Being a dad is an amazing job no matter the gender of the tiny humans we're raising. But there's something unique about the bond between fathers and daughters.

Most dads know what it's like to struggle with braiding hair, but we also know that bonding time provides immense value to our daughters. In fact, studies have shown that women with actively involved fathers are more confident and more successful in school and business.

Keep ReadingShow less
Family

Actress Julia Fox shares a tour of her cluttered NYC apartment, and it's a relatable mess

"Hopefully, somebody watches this and thinks, ‘Well, OK, maybe I’m not doing so bad.’”

@juliafox/TikTok

Julia Fox taking viewers on a tour of her apartment in New York.

To live in a perfectly curated, always tidy, Marie Kondo-worthy home might be a lovely fantasy. But for many, dare I say most of us, that is simply not a reality. There just aren’t enough hours in the day or helpful hands in the house to keep it from getting messy multiple times a week. Square that by a million if the home has small kiddos in it. And if there’s only one parent to clean up after those small kiddos? Forget about it.

That’s why people are letting out a huge sigh of relief after getting a video tour of Julia Fox’s New York apartment in all its glorious disarray.

The actress and model is often seen wearing bold, high-end fashion pieces at glamorous events like the Met Gala,

but her home is anything but glamorous.

Keep ReadingShow less
Identity

This blind chef wore a body cam to show how she prepares dazzling dishes.

How do blind people cook? This "Masterchef" winner leans into her senses.

Image pulled from YouTube video.

Christine Ha competes on "Masterchef."

This article originally appeared on 05.26.17


There is one question chef Christine Ha fields more than any other.

But it's got nothing to do with being a "Masterchef" champion, New York Times bestselling author, and acclaimed TV host and cooking instructor.

The question: "How do you cook while blind?"

Keep ReadingShow less

Gordon Ramsay at play... work.

This article originally appeared on 04.22.15


Gordon Ramsay is not exactly known for being nice.

Or patient.

Or nurturing.

On his competition show "Hell's Kitchen," he belittles cooks who can't keep up. If people come to him with their problems, he berates them. If someone is struggling to get something right in the kitchen, he curses them out.

Keep ReadingShow less