A relatively straightforward classroom experiment this may be, but the fascinating (and beautiful) images produced by students at the University of Surrey when they imprinted their smartphone onto a bacterial growth medium will inevitably give owners of similar devices pause for thought.

Though identifying bacteria by appearance can be difficult…the University of Surrey’s Dr. Simon Park, who teaches course BMS1035, Practical and Biomedical Bacteriology, tells Gizmag that most of the bacteria seen, which have been grown in Plate Count Agar…for three days, are harmless and typically found on human skin, such as those in the genus Micrococcus.

The exercise does occasionally show the presence of disease-causing bacterial pathogens such as Staphylococcus aureus, associated with a number of infectious diseases of varying severity. Dr. Park tells Gizmag that this isn’t surprising considering that 20 percent of people are persistent carriers, and 60 percent intermittent carriers, of this species of bacteria. “The ecological niche on the body for Staphylococcus aureus is the nostrils,” Dr. Park said. “So a furtive pick of the nose, and quick text after, and you end up with this pathogen on your smartphone…”


  1. deowll says:

    I thought everyone already knew these things where extremely grody but maybe not.

  2. McCullough says:

    Can I borrow your phone for a second?

  3. shooff says:

    How about seeing a dude coming out of a bathroom stall on the phone. He sets it down on the filthy sink, and washes his hands. Returns to the table sends a few texts, then dives into chili cheese fries. See it in Las Vegas all the time.

  4. msbpodcast says:

    Its the same thing everywhere.

    What are you going to do?

    Wrap yourself in antiseptic gauze and give yourself anti-bacterial and anti-viral injections 24/7?

    Go eat a bucket of dirt, and survive…

    This is a non-issue.

  5. Alexander G. Bell (The G is for Gross!) says:

    Just call it what it is: a SNOT PHONE! And it seems to be marketed to mostly unintelligent PHONE HEADS!

    But considering how many ass monkeys are out there playing on these smart -er- snot phones, I’m surprised that buggers and any related nostril pathogens are the only issues here. Try looking at where many women put their purses! And guess what’s usually inside those purses? (And you thought men were “dirty”. HA!)

    Just why we even have bathroom sinks does seem a little redundant when we will do stupid things like play Angry Birds while squeezing out an angry turd. We need to have a complete shower at the exit of every bathroom. But more importantly, we need to put away that damn phone!

    You might also like to be reminded that there’s a reason we call it “taking a crap” since that’s very likely what we do on at least a molecular level. And now you want to smear it on your phone?! Or tell me about buggers?!!!


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