I read “The War Of the Worlds” by H.G Wells as a young teenager, and its opening lines were my first, and career defining, introduction to the wonder and hidden power of microbiology. Here are those lines:
“ that as men busied themselves about their various concerns, they were scrutinised and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinise the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water.”
Tomorrow, I am honoured to be giving the Peter Wildy prize lecture, for my contribution to microbiology outreach and communication, at the Society of General Microbiology’s annual conference. I look out now over the city of Birmingham, and watch small and seemingly transient metal creatures swarm beneath me, and with the words of those first lines echoing powerfully in my mind, I feel now as if I am that man with the microscope, and the one that I always dreamt of becoming.
The title is taken from another of H.G Wells’ s microbiologically inspired books “The Stolen Bacillus”