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SciShow News explains how evolution and antibiotics have teamed up to produce an ordinary germ that can now, sometimes, kill people. Also, our favorite piece of science equipment -- the Large Hadron Collider -- has big plans for this year, including the study of dark matter.

President of Space Sam Kirk:

Virtual Tour of LHD:

Hosted by: Hank Green
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Southern California has had it rough lately.    A couple of weeks ago, we told you about the measles outbreak that started there, and now Los Angeles seems to have spawned a whole new kind of outbreak.    A superbug.   Or, at least, that’s what the media have been calling it -- a bacterium that’s killed two people and infected seven at the Ronald Reagan Medical Center at UCLA.     The problem doesn’t have to do with people not getting vaccinated this time -- it has to do with how evolution and antibiotics have teamed up to produce an ordinary germ that can now, sometimes, kill people.   I’m Hank Green and this is SciShow News.   [Intro]   The “superbug” that you may have heard of is actually quite familiar to us humans -- even if it has an unfamiliar name.   It’s a kind of bacterium called enterobacteriaceae.    These bacteria include things like e. coli and klebsiella, which are often found living harmoniously in the intestines of healthy humans.    But sometimes, when these bacteria spread outside the gut, they can infect other bodily tissues, leading to problems ranging from pneumonia to meningitis.    Now, it used to be that infections like these were nothing a li’l antibiotic couldn’t fix.   But over the past 50 years, some strains of enterobacteriaceae have evolved to become resistant to lower classes of antibiotics, like amoxicillin.     And now, they’re adapting to defeat even our most powerful antibiotics, including the one that doctors use against the most intractable drug-resistant bugs, called Carbapenem.    The strain of bacteria that has infected people in L.A., called CRE, turns out to have the ability to produce an enzyme that breaks down carbapenem and renders it useless.    Which … I gotta say, well played, bacteria. Well played.   In this case, 179 patients were exposed to the bacterium after receiving an endoscopy, a procedure where a doctor inserts a tiny scope into the gut to view the digestive tract.    Apparently, two of these scopes were contaminated with CRE, and transmitted the drug-resistant bacteria to other people. And yes...that shouldn’t happen. And also is gross.   In fact, these infections have up to a 50 percent mortality rate.    But it’s unusual for gut bacteria like these to wind up in parts of the body where they don’t belong.    That’s why most CRE infections occur among patients in healthcare facilities, where instruments like catheters and endoscopes are commonly used and sometimes shared.    The staff, of course, disinfects these instruments, but these bacteria are getting better and better at surviving.    Thankfully, these infections are still extremely rare: In 2013, for instance, there were more than 500,000 endoscopies performed in the United States, and only 134 CRE infections were linked to those procedures.    So, the whole “superbug” thing … yeah they are pretty powerful at overcoming our antibiotics but maybe a bit overblown in this case. It’s just the latest reminder that we have a big fight ahead of us, against a biological threat that we, through our desire to keep ourselves healthy, unwittingly created.    Now, some news on our favorite piece of science equipment -- at least that’s not in space -- the Large Hadron Collider.   It’s the world’s most powerful particle accelerator, and it helped us discover the Higgs Boson.    It works by smashing protons and ions together at close to the speed of light. These collisions can give us glimpses of particles that we would otherwise never see, before they decay and disappear from view.    In 2012, the LHC was shut down for repairs and upgrades. Now, the Swiss-based center that operates it -- called CERN -- plans to reopen the collider in March.    The upgraded collider will have even more powerful and tightly focused energy beams -- we’re talking 13 trillion electron volts here, compared to 8 trillion two years ago.    So, what do scientists plan to do with all of this extra energy?   Among other things, they plan to create more intense collisions that will allow them to actually study the Higgs, beyond just confirming that it exists.   The Higgs boson is basically an indicator of the Higgs Field, a kind of invisible miasma permeating the universe that’s thought to give particles mass, when they interact with it. Particles that don’t interact with it, like photons, don’t have mass.   So, one thing researchers want to focus on is the actual properties of this particle, to see if they line up with the behaviors proposed by the standard model of physics.   And since the Higgs seems to be key to understanding why things have mass, they also want to study the other particles that the Higgs keeps company with, in the hopes of learning more about dark matter.   Dark matter is a type of matter that does not emit or absorb light, but we suspect that it’s there because we can see the effects of its gravitation at work all around the universe.   More intense collisions at the LHC could actually generate dark matter, CERN scientists say.    But we won’t know until they fire it up in the middle of March, so we’ll keep you posted!    Thanks for joining me for SciShow News, and thanks to our latest President of Space, Sam Kirkegaard, who invites you to check out his YouTube channel, Sam Kirk, for, quote, “comedy videos and fun!”   And if you want to keep getting smarter with us, don’t forget to go to and subscribe!