The Mobile Urban Microbiology Laboratory (MUML)

The MUML had its first outing at the fabulous Bees In A Tin event on 12th June at Millennium Point in  Birmingham. The 90 minute outdoor and mobile workshop comprised a short microgeographical walk, the observation of natural samples for microbes in situ using a portable field microscope (400-1000x magnification) and an iPhone, and some alfresco preparation of DIY/Kitchen microbiological growth media. Participants then inoculated the various growth media with found objects of their choice. These are images of the microbes (mostly bacteria and a few moulds) that grew on the agar plates. The way that this usually invisible life emerges from the chosen objects, and the complex manner in which seems to embellish these, to me,  forms a very potent reminder, of not only the ubiquity of microbiological life, but also its intimate connection with all else.

Radams

Radams

Radams

Radams

Rachel, grass

Rachel, grass

Rachel, grass

Rachel, grass

Brian, bark

Brian, bark

Brian, Bee

Brian, Bee

Zoe, found plants

Zoe, found plants

Zoe, found plants

Zoe, found plants

anon, soil from canal

anon, soil from canal

anon, soil form canal

anon, soil form canal

Muttha, apple

Muttha, apple

Muttha, park bench hand rest

Muttha, park bench hand rest

Pete, Curzon Station

Pete, Curzon Station

Pete, Curzon Sation

Pete, Curzon Sation

Gerry, water

Gerry, water

Gerry, moss

Gerry, moss

AF, bird poo

AF, bird poo

AF

AF

Neil, goose poo

Neil, goose poo

Neil, earth

Neil, earth

Rebecca

Rebecca

Rebecca

Rebecca

Janet left foot

Janet left foot

Janet, right foot

Janet, right foot

Nivims, grass head

Nivims, grass head

Nivims, pine needles

Nivims, pine needles

Emile, pavement

Emile, pavement

Emile, pavement

Emile, pavement

Alyson F, bench

Alyson F, bench

Jill D, canal water

Jill D, canal water

Andy H, various

Andy H, various

 

 

Our Garden In Infrared

FLIR0036 FLIR0035 FLIR0034 FLIR0033 FLIR0031 FLIR0024

The bright yellow spot is a Bumble Bee

The bright yellow spot is a Bumble Bee

The bright yellow spot is a Bumble Bee

The bright yellow spot is a Bumble Bee

Photographs of our garden taken with a thermal imaging camera. Leaves and flowers become like abstract paintings as differences in temperature become apparent, and Bumbles Bees can be seen as yellow spots of heat energy.

Threads of Living Light

_MG_7181 _MG_7183 _MG_7194 _MG_7195 _MG_7197 _MG_7199

When veiwed in daylight, this silk thread looks rather unremarkable. When the light are turned off though its true nature is revealed. It has been specially infused with bioluminescent bacteria, so that it is both alive and self-illuminating. It nature this bioluminescent light is used for communication and as a lure, so maybe some enhanced spider’s webs next.

BioCipher

Day2 with red

Day2 with red

Day1

Day1

Day1

Day1

Day2

Day2

Day2

Day2

Day 2 with red,

Day 2 with red,

Time 0

Time 0

Time zero

Cy2 Cy3 Cy4

A message encrypted into a bacterial communications system. Two initially  colourless strains of bacteria interact, and where they meet and communicate, one strain generates a purple pigment.

The Extraterrestrial Bioluminescent Signal Project

The Bioluminescent Signal Emitting Dish

The Bioluminescent Signal Emitting Dish !

Throughout history, mariners have infrequently reported witnessing bizarre nightime displays where the surface of the sea produces an intense, uniform, and sustained glow that extends in all directions to the horizon. This phenomenon has also occassionally been reported in ship’s logs and there is even a fictional account in Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea. There has been speculation that these events are due to the accumulation of massive populations of natural and marine bioluminescent bacteria and one such “milky sea” was corroborated in 1995 when a satellite imaged a glowing portion of the Ocean, the size of Yorkshire, off the Somalian coast. The light then produced by these bacteria obviously can penetrate from the Earth’s atmosphere, and into space beyond, and so a very long time before we developed the ability to do this, bacteria were sending electromagnetic signals into space, and which could be conceivably be detected by extraterrestrials.

Based on the above findings, this is a largely symbolic, and also very simple, attempt to send a biological electromagnetic signal to other worlds.

 

A Living Page

Page, daylight

Page, daylight

Page on bacteriological  media, dark

Page on bacteriological media, dark

Page on non-nutritious surface, dark

Page on non-nutritious surface, dark

Held page, dark. Note the increase in biolouminescence where it is being held.

Held page, dark. Note the increase in biolouminescence where it is being held.

Held page, dark. Note the increase in biolouminescence where it is being held.

Held page, dark. Note the increase in biolouminescence where it is being held.

Held page, dark. Note the increase in biolouminescence where it is being held.

Held page, dark. Note the increase in biolouminescence where it is being held.

Held page, dark. Note the increase in biolouminescence where it is being held.

Held page, dark. Note the increase in biolouminescence where it is being held.

Held page, daylight

Held page, daylight

A page from a book carefully infused with living bioluminescent bacteria. In a very simple sense, the bacteria self-illumnate the page so that it my be read in the dark without the need for unsustainable electric lighting. Beyond this, the bacteria suffuse that page with a unique and beguling energy of biological origin, the impact of which on the psyche, transcends the words written on the page. I was really shocked to observe that the page, and thus the bacteria, respond to my touch by glowing brighter!  Possibly, due to changes in temperature, but remarkable nevertheless that there is a response.