We've moved! The Art in Science has a new home at taiscience.com

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!

Sunday, 30 May 2010

The Art in Science

Art is a lie that makes us realize the truth
Pablo Picasso
There are hundreds of types of art; classical greek art, indian art, aborigine art, abstract art, impressionism, expressionism, realism, dadaism and a whole string of other -isms. Traditionally, as a culture, we teach our young to make the choice: Shakespeare or DNA, Rembrandt or fractional distillation, a Ming Dynasty vase or Einstein's Theory of Relativity. So claiming any kind of Art in Science seems like an oxymoron, doesn't it? But this seems to me a false dichotomy. Though one is the quest for truth and explanation and one the expression of individuality, artists have often chosen to take inspiration from scientific principles and have also unknowingly created structures present in science and nature: Be it music's fascination with mathematical patterns and beat; Rudolf Laban's choreography drawn from principles of geometry as the limbs trace lines along fundamental geometric shapes, or the way the pre-frontal cortical areas of the brain are titillated as you appreciate the aesthetics and respond emotionally to a classic Van Gogh; art and science are inexorably intertwined. Deal with it.
Science and writing, particularly, have a lot in common; the need for fresh ideas and attention to detail, a constant questioning and redeveloping of ideas and creating a complete understanding through commitment to a chosen route. I am interested in poetry and creating an understanding or questioning through creative expression, to take a step back from the raw details and mould it into something tangible and expressive. There is so much beauty in nature, I hope that, however naively, I can recreate and represent the fundamental, exquisite details of nature and science by sharing with you other peoples sci-art collaborations.
Welcome to the beautiful world of Science.