We do this in our homes, in our hospitals, in our homes, in our gardens, and even in some cases, in the woods when we use antibiotics, pesticides, herbicides, and any other “medicine.” And the consequences are obvious.
Recently, Michael Baym and colleagues at Harvard University built a large Petri plate, or “megaplate,” divided into rows. Later, Baym added agar, which is a food and breeding ground for pathogens. The outer part of both sides of the megaplate was agar and nothing more. Moving in, each subsequent phase was loaded with antibiotics at a very high dose. Baym then released bacteria on both ends of the megaplate to test whether they could change resistance to antibiotics.
The bacteria did not have the genes that make them resistant to antibiotics; he went into the ark like a flock of sheep. And if the gourds were the pasture of the bacterial “sheep”, the antibiotics were wolves. The experiments were based on how we use antibiotics to fight infections in our bodies. It depends on how we use herbicides to remove weeds from the grass. It takes every effort we make to stop the environment every time it enters our lives.
The law of natural selection would have predicted that as soon as genetic mutations occur, mutations could cause mutations in bacteria that could be resistant to antibiotics. But it may take years or more. It can take a long time for the bacteria to eat up before they can change so that they can spread in rows with antibiotics, poles filled with wolves.
It did not take years. It took 10 or 12 days.
Baym repeated the experiment. It played the same way every time. The parasites filled the first phase with a small decrease, before one line refused to kill most antibiotics. This continued until several rows were changed to resist the amount of antibiotics and poured into the final phase, like water on a levee.
It seems to be moving fast, Baym’s attempt is dangerous. It is also beautiful. Its danger lies in the speed at which bacteria can thrive from being immune to our own immune system. Its beauty lies in the foreknowledge of experimental results, based on an understanding of the law of natural selection. This foreknowledge provides two things: It helps us to know when resistance will develop, whether by bacteria, bedbugs, or any other group of organisms; it also helps us manage the river of life to make the transition to denial easier. Understanding the law of natural selection is essential for human health and well-being and, indeed, for the survival of our species.
There are also other natural laws that have similar effects. Biodiversity law regulates the amount of life that lives on a particular island or habitat as a function of its size. It helps us to predict when and where life will end, as well as when and how it will change. The law of corridors determines which species will move in the future as the climate changes, as well as how. The law of escape describes ways in which living things thrive on insects and pathogens. Escape describes some of the things that humans have done well in comparison to other living things and how we have been able to achieve so much in comparison with other species. This law sets out some of the challenges we will face in the coming years when our chances of survival (from pests, germs, etc.) will be reduced. A niche law governs where living things, including human beings, can live and where we can thrive in the future as the climate changes.