Science at work! Become a phage hunter!

Solarpunk is very much about science – with some great examples here:

Science | Solarpunk Station

Solarpunk came out of science fiction – and sees science as full of real promise:

Its essential premise is the envisioning of a positive, hopeful, environmentally sustainable future as a reaction to the dystopianism endemic to turn-of-the-century science fiction and the Cyberpunk movement in particular. It likewise stands in opposition to the dystopianism of ‘dark green’ environmentalism, with its endemic misanthropy, demonization of science and technology, and nihilistic resignation to environmental collapse and mass death. It asserts the sort of pragmatic optimism that is now a radical, subversive stance in a popular culture that has largely abandoned hope for the future.

On Solarpunk – Sci Phi Journal

So, here’s a very pragmatic use of something we’ve already got plenty of – which does indeed give us hope for the future:

The potential for phage therapy is huge for anyone who has an antibiotic-resistant infection,’ says Joanne Santini, a professor of microbiology at University College London…

Phages — short for bacteriophage, meaning ‘bacteria eater’ — are found everywhere that bacteria exist, including in our bodies and the environment, such as soil or water. Phage therapy involves first identifying the bacteria that’s caused an infection, then finding a virus (i.e. the phage) known to kill that particular bug… ‘

If we combine phages with antibiotics, we attack the bacteria on two fronts and the bacteria struggle to become resistant to both,’ says Dr Ben Temperton, an associate professor of microbiology at the University of Exeter.

Could swallowing or inhaling ‘good’ viruses be the new way to beat infections? | Daily Mail Online

And a citizen-science project has come out of Exeter Uni:

You can help discover potentially life-saving phages (viruses that kill bacteria) via the Citizen Phage Library. The aim is to build a database of phages so that if a patient needs treatment, there is a national resource that can offer this quickly, says Dr Ben Temperton, an associate professor of microbiology at the University of Exeter, who set up the project.

People are sent kits that contain three glass jars. They fill these with water from their local areas, such as ponds or rivers, and send them back to our lab. We filter out the bacteria and what’s left are viruses. We add these to a sample of bacteria we want to find phages for — if there are phages in the sample that kill the bacteria, they will increase in number.’ The phages are checked to ensure they don’t have any dangerous genes, then they’re added to the database. They are stored in liquid nitrogen, and if they’re needed, more will be cultured. 

The collection kits should be available within a month at

Phage Therapy Citizen Science – Exeter Science Centre