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Merri Lynn Casem
Professor
mcasem@fullerton.edu
Department of Biological Science
California State University Fullerton
Nanobacteria: Are They or Aren't They Alive?

This case study was developed for a first-semester foundations course for biology majors. It is based on two conflicting reports in the scientific literature on the status of nanobacteria as living organisms in order to explore basic concepts related to the biological definition of life and the process of scientific investigation. In addition to engaging students with these topics, the case highlights the ambiguities inherent in science, and creates a forum for debate and discussion regarding the ability to arrive at “right answers.”