Counting bacteria : confidence intervals from one measurement

Here are two biologically-inspired statistics problem, with very simple solutions. They show that, when you have informations about the way the observations are collected, one observation may be enough to give a confidence interval.

Question 1

From a bacterial solution I sampled a small volume v in which I found no bacteria. Give an upper bound (with confidence 95%) for the concentration of bacteria in the solution.

Question 2

From a bacterial solution I sampled a small volume v in which I found n bacteria (n > 20). Give a 95% confidence interval for the concentration of bacteria in the solution.

Solutions

Short answers : for the first question c < (3/v) and for the second c \in [\frac{ n \pm 2\sqrt{n}}{v}] .

Yep, it’s that simple ! See the solutions.

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E. coli versus the sun

I am really happy to see that the Zurich 2012 iGEM team has been designing a bacteria for sun protection. I had a similar idea a few months ago and I made a few fun slides out of it:

Bioshield – Natural Sun Protection

It seems that the team focused on sun detection and sunscreen agent production, while my concern with a bacteria-based sunscreen had been things like how to make a bacterial biofilm skin-adhesive and water-resistant. Has anyone any idea ?