If you imagine the soil in its vast complexity as a microbial superorganism, then these might be biopsies that have been taken from it and grown like human cells in tissue culture in the laboratory.
The letter O, the chemical symbol for the vital element Oxygen, spelt out by the interaction of this gas with an oxygen sensitive medium. In a sense a chemical self-portrait.
The bacterium Proteus mirabilis is a cause of urinary tract infections and has a particular predilection for the kidneys. It is named after Proteus , the character in Homer’s Odyssey who “has the power of assuming different shapes to escape being questioned” This is an apt name, because this organism displays a striking morphogenesis which involves periodic oscillation between a specialised and hypermotile swarmer cell type and a form which remains stationary and grows. The cumulative effects of movement and differentiation results in colonies that have a unique structure that appears like concentric circles. It’s easy to imagine this bacterium growing like the expanding ripples on the surface of a pond that emerge after a stone is thrown into it. With this in mind, I decided to subject this bacterium to Young’s Double-Split experiment using blue water colour to define the slits. This is a seminal and unsettling physics’ experiment that demonstrates that matter and energy can display the characteristics of both waves and particles, and which also reveals the fundamentally probabilistic nature of quantum the world. Here’s what happened.
A long time ago I decided to feed some Jelly Babies to one of my favourite bacteria Bacillus mycoides. Don’t ask me why! One of the most striking outcomes of this is the finding that the bacteria don’t like the Jelly Baby and cannot grow anywhere near it. A lesson for our children perhaps? I’ve only just now though picked up on the rather denomic aspect of this image! The Jelly Baby certainly looks to have attitude.