Here’s A Light Fixture That Runs On Bacteria
As we phase out incandescent lights for compact fluorescents, we save energy but take the risk of mercury pollution (there’s heavy metals galore in CFLs). What if we could light our homes with biology?
Similar to the Glowing Plant project from earlier this week, here’s Philips concept for a microbial lamp powered by the chemistry of biological luminescence. It’s part of Philips’ "Microbial Home" future concept, which also includes urban beehives and bacterial waste recycling.
You can get off the grid, and onto the petri dish.
The Scientifically-Inspired Art of Luke Jerram
This guy is killin’ it.
It would be difficult to find a science-inspired artist more consistently amazing than Luke Jerram. His best-known work is surely his blown-glass microbes and viruses, which have graced Tumblr dashboards and Facebook walls the world over. A beautiful gallery, with behind the scenes photos of glass in action, here.
Top L-R: HIV, Human Papilloma Virus and Swine Flu
Less-known, but equally as impressive are his sonic sculptures, where invisible sound waves are visualized as silent, three-dimensional experiences
Middle L-R: 28 seconds of Hiroshima, 9 minutes of Tohoku (prev. here)
I think his most remarkable work is a musical installation called Aeolus (lower left), where a field of taut cables vibrate with the wind due to vortex effects, creating music within the tubes of the arch. I’ve featured that musical installation before, with links to the physics behind it, if you’d like to read more.
Last, but not least, a scientific-glassware chandelier that I am sure that many of us would be happy to hang in our homes … or finely appointed labs.
I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next. Check out Luke Jerram’s full website and portfolio here, and be prepared to be amazed.
These snowflake-like crystals grow from tiny imperfections in floating sea ice, the super-frigid air causing water vapor to crystallize right out of the air into the stunning ordered shapes you see.
These “frost flowers” have been found to harbor microbial life, far more than the sea around them, creating tiny ecosystems like forzen coral. Life does find a way, huh?
Peter Larsen takes large, complicated sets of data, gathered from his study of how microbial populations interact with their environment, and turns them into music. In the piece you’re hearing here, different melodies represent different groups of microbes, playing as their abundance changes throughout the year. The chords and key are determined by the environmental conditions at this particular site, in the western part of the English Channel.
Life is jazzy.
Hilary Rosner has more background at Tooth and Claw.
Starfleet has one Prime Directive: There can be no interference with the internal development of alien civilizations.
NASA could be thiiiiiiis close to violating it. Thanks to a mixup in construction of the Curiosity rover, a drill bit was pre-loaded on the rover’s sample collection arm. This way, just in case the loading mechanism broke on landing, we’d still get one round of samples. Only problem is the drill bit wasn’t sterilized.
Even though Gale Crater, the landing site, isn’t known to hold any water (like the Martian poles do), if it happens to find some? There’s a small but not insignificant chance that Earth microbes could be rehydrated and deposited on the red planet.
More details at Smithsonian Smart News.
(image by Astronit/Flickr)
If you ever fly over San Francisco Bay, be sure to peer out of the window to catch a glimpse of one of the world’s most incredibly coloured landscapes - the salt evaporation ponds operated by Cargill, Inc.
Salt evaporation ponds are shallow artificial ponds designed to produce salts from sea water or other brines. The seawater or brine is fed into large ponds and water is drawn out through natural evaporation which allows the salt to be subsequently harvested. During the five years it takes for the bay water to mature into salt brine, it is moved from one evaporation pond to another. In the final stages, when the brine is fully saturated, it is pumped to the crystalizer where a bed of salt 5 to 8 inches thick is ready for harvest.
Salt ponds range from blue green to deep magenta – colored naturally by the microorganisms that thrive as salinity levels increase. The color indicates the salinity of the ponds and the type of microorganisms that’s breeding on it. Three microorganisms in particular, Synechococcus, Halobacteria, and Dunaliella, influence the color of salt ponds.
A stunning rainbow of salt-loving microbes! Bacteria have been around long enough that no matter what the conditions - deep underground, acidic lakes, caustic undersea thermal vents - there’s at least one adapted to live there. These ponds are an example.
Here’s 15 of the approximately 600 species of microbes living in your mouth, imaged via a newly developed technique called CLASI-FISH, allowing simultaneous identification and tracking of several species at once using a fluorescent microscope, as presented at a cell biology conference in Denver this week:
Combinatorial Labeling and Spectral Imaging (CLASI) was designed by a team at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Mass., and Brown University in Providence, R.I., to distinguish microbes in the human body and in other complex communities in nature. Previous fluorescent labeling approaches relied on the classic green fluorescent protein, but CLASI allows for a range of colors by harnessing additional fluorescent proteins.
Don’t worry, though. Most of them aren’t harmful. Most of them.
Hopefully by tracking their communities on a large scale like this, we can learn how to keep our mouths, an ecosystem unto itself, happier than ever.
(via SciAm, image by Alex Valm)
The non-profit programme MyMicrobes, launched today, is inviting people to have their gut bacteria sequenced for about €1,500 (US$2,100). Acting as both social network and DNA database, the website offers a place for people to share diet tips, stories and gastrointestinal woes with one another. In exchange, researchers hope to gather a wealth of data about the bacteria living in people’s guts.
(via Nature News)