Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Virus and Bacteria

Virus and bacteria are absolutely different things. Bacteria are little single-cell critters. Virus is just a genetic component plus a protein "cap", and sometimes a oily envelope. Their structure and function are entirely different. Perhaps the only similarity between them is that they both contain species that could cause disease in humans.

But apparently some of the reporters in Australia can't really tell the difference between virus and bacteria.


Eerm. Sometimes I find that the mass media isn't reliable when it comes to scientific information. Recently I have been finding some misconceptions in many newspapers, and some of them actually went on the frontpage. I remember reading things like "egg could stand on its end only during equinox" in Sinchew JitPoh when I was back in Malaysia a few months ago. Probably we could be lenient because it's not meant to be a scientific news after all. However, when it comes to scientific articles, newspapers seem to be born with a knack of giving misinformations. So ya, when the information is passed on from the scientist to the reporter, and from the reporter to the editors, we can basically forget about accuracy.

It's not all that bad, and most of the time the news are pretty accurate. However, slight mistakes do accumulate, and as the ol' trusted source of knowledge, newspaper ought to be more rigorous in their fact-checking. When we have already got urban legends spreading like wildfire online everyday, newspaper editors should try their best to avoid disseminating misinformation.


Ka Lip said...

Haha, i think they used the term virus in broader in something that infects... and for greater impact

Carries a better ring than "Patients quarantined with deadly bacteria" lol

Wee Loon ONG said...

ha, was having a lecture on antibiotic on that day itself and came across vancomycin resistance enterococci only to come back and hear about the VRE 'outbreak' news on the tv. what a co-incidence...

Ha, and indeed media tends to get all the scientific facts mixed up. but, seems like 'patient quarantined with deadly VIRUS' is more attractive and catchy than '...deadly BACTERIA' which doesn't sound aggressive and serious enough:P

youngyew said...

Ka Lip: Haha it could be the case there.. I just thought the distinction between virus and bacteria should be something that everyone learnt in high school science education. Haha yeah I agree with your point though, virus may sound scarier than bacteria. :P

Wee Loon: Haha yeah the mix-up are sometimes quite annoying.