We’re not so different, bacteria and I: On poking E. coli and what it tells us about ourselves

e. coli

When biologists describe a brain cell firing, they often invoke a sizzle of electricity passing from cell to cell. This is because brain cells, or neurons, work by sending electric pulses. In fact, all of our nerve cells work by using electricity. For example, when we poke someone the nerves in our finger, arm, and spinal cord relay electricity from fingertip to brain. Those impulses tell us what the objects we’ve poked feel like.

What if bacteria are using electricity in the same way?

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