90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
Your Inner Ecosystem

Trillions of bacteria live in our bodies.  They outnumber our human cells, 10 to 1.  So who’s in charge?  What are we?

Bacteria under a microscope.

Bacteria under a microscope.

Maybe you thought your body was a noble castle poised against the onslaughts and invasions of the world.  Well, think again.  It turns out, we are the world.  Our bodies are loaded with a jungle of microbial life, inside and out, that is essential to healthy life.

New science has found ten times as many bacteria cells as human cells in and on the human body.  A load of microbes that work with us from the moment of birth in all kinds of key ways.  Killing them off, avoiding them, may make us sick.  Make us fat.

This hour, On Point:  Microbes are us.  The amazing full ecology of the human body.

-Tom Ashbrook

 

Guests

Jennifer Ackerman, a writer for Scientific American, she’s also the author of Ah-Choo! The Uncommon Life of Your Common Cold; Sex Sleep Eat Drink Dream. Here recent cover story for Scientific American is here.

Martin Blaser, chair of the Department of Medicine and professor of microbiology at the New York University School of Medicine.  He’s also the funder of the Foundation for Bacteriology and the Virtual Museum of Bacteria.

Bernat Olle, principal at PureTech Ventures, a venture firm focused on the creation of life science companies.

From Tom’s Reading List

Scientific American “Biologists once thought that human beings were phys­iological islands, entirely capable of regulating their own internal workings. Our bodies made all the enzymes needed for breaking down food and using its nutrients to power and repair our tissues and organs. Signals from our own tissues dictated body states such as hunger or satiety. ”

Los Angeles Times “It gives scientists a reference point of what the microbial community looks like in healthy people, and they plan to use it to study how changes in a person’s microbiome can lead to illness.”

The New York Times “For a century, doctors have waged war against bacteria, using antibiotics as their weapons. But that relationship is changing as scientists become more familiar with the 100 trillion microbes that call us home — collectively known as the microbiome.”

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
ONPOINT
TODAY
Mar 31, 2015
Some of the hundreds of people who gathered outside the Indiana Statehouse on Saturday, March 28, 2015, for a rally against legislation signed Thursday by Gov. Mike Pence stand on the Statehouse's south steps during the 2-hour-long rally. (AP)

Indiana’s controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Critics call it anti-gay. Business leaders say bad for the economy. The governor’s not backing down. We’ll dive in.

Mar 31, 2015
Jazz icon Billie Holiday performs in New York City's Club Downbeat in February 1947.  (Library of Congress / Creative Commons)

A meditation on the life and music of Billie Holiday. The lady who sang the blues.

RECENT
SHOWS
Mar 30, 2015
Sweet Briar College, an all-women's liberal arts college in Virginia, announced in early 2015 that it would unexpectedly close its doors at the end of the school year. (Courtesy Sweet Brian College)

Fareed Zakaria weighs the value of a liberal arts education in our technology-driven time.

 
Mar 30, 2015
A stele and flowers laid in memory of the victims are placed in the area where the Germanwings jetliner crashed in the French Alps, in Le Vernet, France, Friday, March 27, 2015. The crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 into an Alpine mountain, which killed all 150 people aboard, has raised questions about the mental state of the co-pilot. (AP)

The pilot who crashed his plane in the Alps. What we know now. And what to do about pilots’ psychological health.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Our Week In The Web: March 27, 2015
Friday, Mar 27, 2015

More on the incessant email debate, plus some goats living their best lives and the sad allure of Manhattan’s shuttered Pommes Frites.

More »
1 Comment
 
Mobile Payments Offer Convenience If You Keep Your Email Safe
Thursday, Mar 26, 2015

Thinking about moving your wallet to your phone? You can! And maybe you should? But TechCrunch senior writer Josh Constine has a few things to tell you before you do.

More »
1 Comment
 
Using Technology To Get Your Kids Outside
Thursday, Mar 26, 2015

The latest and greatest — using apps to make natural exploration more fun for your kids.

More »
Comment