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In middle school, Seth Herzon wanted to be a paleontologist, but his favorite class was shop. Even at home, that’s what he did for fun: He and his brother would go to their basement workshop, littered with tools and splintery bits of wood, and try to build things. “Oftentimes, we’d be a little too ambitious, we’d try to make things and we’d realize halfway through how hard it was: very large shelves, beds, tables. We went through a desk phase, trying to make fancy desks, which turned out to be quite hard,” he said. “What you really want is a nice cubby behind it, and the cubby is quite tricky.”

His latest construction project was even trickier, it turns out. He’d already spent two years trying to build it, from 2008 to 2010, when he first became a professor at Yale, but it was too hard, so he put it aside, the way he might a half-finished bedframe. Now, seven years later, he’s succeeded — and the result could be a promising tool with which to fight antibiotic resistance.

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