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Monday, 31 May 2010

Bioluminescence - a bacterial light show

It feels counterintuitive to start my blog with somebody else’s art, however, having just stumbled across the work of Hunter Cole, I couldn’t help but share it with you! Hunter Cole creates works of art from precisely created cultures of bioluminescent bacteria.

Bioluminescence is the production of light by an organism where energy is released by a chemical reaction (often involving Adenosine Triphosphate) in the form of light. Many animals have developed bioluminescence, such as ‘fireflies’, the ‘glow worm’, angler fish like the one in Finding Nemo, and in spectacular form in squid. Indeed this is true for many other marine vertebrates and invertebrates, around 90 percent of marine life is estimated to bioluminesce in one form or another!

Hunter Cole grew the bacteria responsible for this bioluminescence, in cultures on arranged agar plates and filmed as they grew, showing the ways in which their light emission developed and changed as they grew and died.

Hunter Cole, 'Her Own DNA' , Living drawings created with bioluminescent bacteria with protein music

Of course, many others that have discovered the beauty in bioluminescence, and one such man is David Gallo who shares his magnificent videos of under water light shows at a TED conference.

The amount and diversity of these patterns and ‘light-shows’ in nature is so vast, and is yet to be fully explored, so please share what you’ve seen! Exciting applications have been posited for the future, such as Christmas trees that light up, eliminating the need for electrical lights and reducing the risk of fires; and crops and plants that luminesce when they need watering! This may sound like science-fiction but I trust that this is only the beginning!

I imagine that, if you are reading this you have been coerced by aggressive emails from myself, in which case, Thank You; or you have stumbled upon this treasure trove of scientific and artist delights by an orchestrated act of the Gods, in which case, welcome and Thank You for reading this far!

Come back soon!

1 comment:

  1. There's a group trying to genetically engineer trees which glow in the dark as an alternative to street lighting. I find bio and chemiluminescence fascinating. Hadn't seen this artists's work, thanks for posting.