Project Summary

    The lack of clean water supplies is an ever growing problem and presents itself as one of the greatest obstacles for a billion individuals to overcome worldwide. There are more deaths due to contaminated water than are attributed to war and all acts of violence combined, exemplifying the necessity of ending this crisis.

    This study sought to ascertain the possibility of decreasing bacterial contamination and cellular growth through the use of magnetic fields. Due to moving ions being of the utmost importance in cellular biological functions, such as homeostasis and ATP production, it was postulated that a magnetic field could inhibit cellular growth.

    In this study, it was found how magnetic field strength affected bacterial colonies.  E. coli K-12 was used as an experimental unit because it was completely harmless and because it provided a manipulable cellular system by which to make regulatory observations. The E. coli, obtained from Carolina Biological Supply as a freeze-dried, established culture, was diluted in sterile water in a concentration of 100µL/2000mL, to which relative concentrations of 50µL and 25µL of recovered solution were also done in separate trials. After the solution was shaken, 125µL of the new solution was drawn out with 37°C for 24 hours, during which magnetic fields with strengths ranging from 0.14mT to 8.25mT were constantly applied. 12 and 36 hour trials were also performed. Image J was used to find bacterial counts on which four statistical measurements were conducted.

    These measurements included the Pearson Product-Moment Correlation Coefficient, the Coefficient of Determination, Confidence Intervals, and Sample-Based Significance Tests. It was found that r = -0.902, showing an extremely strong negative correlation between magnetic field strength and bacterial colonies. R2 was found to be 0.963, suggesting that the model was almost a perfect fit for the sample means. For plates influenced by at least 0.23mT of magnetic field strength, P-values were rejected, showing a significant decrease in bacteria. On the relative trials testing different incubation times and starting concentrations, two-tailed significance tests were run, all resulting in P-values over 0.7, suggesting that the growth period and starting amounts do not have any significant impact on bacterial growth.

    The hypothesis postulated was found to be true, for it was concluded that magnetic fields negatively affect cellular growth. The implications of this study are two-fold. First, the results of this study solidly detail the negative health hazards of prolonged magnetic field exposure. Second, magnetic fields can be used as a method of decontamination, such as in water. As a decontamination tool, magnetic fields can also be applied to industrial procedures, of which currently rely on irradiation and chemical application. Due to the characteristics of magnetic fields not being obstructed by any physical barrier and not having any physical after-effects, show that magnetic fields would me more safe and effective than current methods of industrial decontamination.

Andrew Chen - Google Science Fair Presentation

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