Local News

NC Museum of Natural Science explores microscopic organisms in new exhibit

Posted December 7, 2016
Updated December 8, 2016

— A visual and interactive exhibit at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Science, "The Secret World Inside You,” shares the story of microscopic organisms in a larger than life way. Microbes in and on the human body are more numerous than the stars in the Milky Way.

The exhibit runs through March 12. Tickets are required for admission but for museum members, it’s free.

Dr. Julie Horvath is the director of the museum's genomics and microbiology research lab. She said microbes are vital for the function of the digestive system, the immune system - and essential for life itself, even at the moment of birth.

“Most of them are actually beneficial or benign, so they either do something good, or they don’t do anything to you. There’s only about a hundred that cause some sort of disease,” Horvath said.

The birth canal in women contains bacteria which are passed on to the baby, during natural birth as opposed to C-Section.

“So getting pushed out is actually going to populate you with micro-organisms that you’re going to need for life,” she said.

She said the mother's breast milk is another important source for building the up the child's immune system.

“So this is an exhibit that's really relevant to women, breast feeding and having babies and really thinking about what they can do to set up their baby for healthy outcomes in the future,” Horvath said.

With hands-on components, the exhibits are oriented for all age groups from 5th graders to doctors and scientists. Visitors will also learn why it's important to brush and floss, to wash away sugar that attracts bacteria.

“So sugar doesn't cause tooth decay, so if you get a cavity, it's your bacteria,” Horvath said.

1 Comment

Please with your WRAL.com account to comment on this story. You also will need a Facebook account to comment.

Oldest First
View all
  • Ryan Tuck Dec 8, 2016
    user avatar

    Just to clarify: the purpose of brushing and flossing is to disrupt the microbial film on teeth and not to "wash away sugar." The sugars are, however, metabolized by the bacteria in your mouth producing acids which demineralize the enamel and lead to cavities.