On Agar Cultures


In class today we were told how scientists around 200 years ago figured out that plating cultures on agar was the best way to go.

They had wanted to use gelatin, except sometimes you need to grow things at body temperature and gelatin is almost liquid at that point, which isn’t ideal for cultures. The scientist returns home one day and talks to his wife about his work and the problems he was facing. So the wife suggests, why not agar? Germans apparently used it to harden jam and the like. He took that on board decided to try it. The next day he went to work and BAM – instant success. And we have been using agar ever since. For almost 200 years.

So yes, fresh eyes and a different sort of knowledge really does help. Science requires knowledge of all sorts of stuff. Everything is science. Keeping science to just reasonably privileged males does not do anyone any good, not even them. More women in science, more artists in science, more philosophers – science needs to be open and accessible to everyone for it to affect change on society. The more minds involved, the faster we go.


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