Learning Microbiology

Sat Aug 24 19:19:44 EST 1996

Hello especially to Ray Moore but to everyone else too,

I've been following this thread, but this posting of Ray's I find 
inspirational given my personal background: 

<1.  Several people said in essence "you just can't learn microbiology on 
your on."  I have a B.S. and M.S. in Mathematics, with a pretty good 
foundation in Chemistry and Physics and a lone Biology course, so I am 
not daunted at all to set out to learn something like this.  But more 
important, I don't think it is impossible for anyone to learn anything 
"on their on".  At the risk of offending some of the very helpful people 
who responded, I remind those who were negative of the old adage "those 
who can, do; those who can't, teach."> 

Ray, GOOD FOR YOU!!! I applaud your self-confidence, independence and 
courage to take on a rather difficult - note I say *difficult*  rather  
than *impossible* - task, to learn microbiology on one's own, in spite of 
the insistence of others who said more or less openly that you cannot do 
it. It is a rare, and in my opinion, wonderful person who is able to 
think on one's own and act without undue concern about negativity and 
discouragement from others. To these others who offered Mr. Moore the 
negativity and discouragement for his efforts,  I would remind them of 
Anton van Leeuwenhoek, Robert Koch and Louis Pasteur, to name only the 
major pioneers, whose curiosity and independence not only taught all of 
US about microbiology in a manner of speaking, but this after they first 
taught themselves, but who were able to do it with a lot less "help" 
available to *them* than Mr. Moore here can get from his microbiology 
textbooks and the people on this list. If the pioneers of microbiology 
could do what they did sans micro textbooks and electronic mailing lists 
from other scientists, why do you all think it's so impossible for Mr. 
Moore to learn *with* all of this help?  Those pioneers were simply 
intelligent human beings, just like Mr. Moore here. Shame on all of you!

<2.  One person asked if I had an analytic balance because I was making 
dope.  No, it was a piece of equipment that I used in a metal assay lab 
that I owned.> 

Iccch. Come on, people! It's this sort of paranoid attitude which gets 
made into laws that are going to lead to the abolishment not only of 
personal individual freedom, but also to the freedom necessary for 
scientists ("official" degreed ones with "official" positions in 
academics, medicine or industry as well as would-be independent 
researchers not affiliated with colleges, hospitals or established firms) 
to do what they do and achieve great things. This is going to lead to the 
death of science, eventually. Is that what you all want? I know I 
certainly do not. Just because someone owns a balance doesn't mean 
they're involved in illegal drugs (I'd like to purchase an electronic 
balance myself, to weigh my pet rats and calculate oral dosages of 
antibiotics for them when their mycoplasma flares up). Also, in recalling 
a past thread, just because someone asks about C. botulinum toxin doesn't 
mean they're planning to engage in biological terrorism.

<3.  Some people suggested that I just hire a commercial lab for what I 
need.  If one stays in business long enough he learns that there is  
always a certain level of expertise that must be gained in house, e.g., 
the metal assay lab mentioned above came into being after some bad  
assays from a very reputable commercial lab cost us about $20,000.00. 
Losses like that and a continuing potential for similar losses can make 
the necessary lab apparatii seem cheap to acquire.> 

YES! I worked in a contract testing lab for three and a half years, and 
some of the things I saw in there were such that I'd really think twice 
about using one if I had a business which required my products to be 
microbiologically tested.

<Now for some clarification:  There are two areas in which I want to 
develop capability.  The first is testing for pathogens that may be found 
in milk and dairy products, particularly cheese, that can cause disease 
or death in humans.  The second is isolating, identifying, and 
propogating the  various microbials used in culturing milk, and ripening 
and aging cheeses.> 

Cool! This sounds fascinating, even though my personal interest 
microbiologically when I eventually finish my degree is researching 
infectious disease organisms and antibiotic resistance, plus:

 <There is always another goal and that is to enjoy what I do, and 
learning is always one of the most enjoyable aspects of any venture.> YES 
YES YES!!!!!! The overwhelming majority of people, scientists or not, 
need to work for a living, to spend most of our lives working, so it 
makes no sense at all NOT to enjoy one's career! And a scientist who does 
not enjoy learning is not a real scientist!

Thank you all for letting me get this out of my system, and thank you 
Ray, for being who you are. :-)


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