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Posts Tagged "Bacteria"

Anthropology in Practice

Editor’s Selections: Public Restrooms, Black Death, Social Cooperation, And Resilient Ecosystems

Part of my online life includes editorial duties at ResearchBlogging.org, where I serve as the Social Sciences Editor. Each Thursday, I pick notable posts on research in anthropology, philosophy, social science, and research to share on the ResearchBlogging.org News site. To help highlight this writing, I also share my selections here on AiP. The range for selections [...]

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The Artful Amoeba

On the Curious Motions of Syphilis and Lyme Disease Bacteria

spirochete_flagella_Cell_Harman_et_al_200

The bacteria that cause syphilis and Lyme Disease have something extraordinary in common: they manage to propel themselves through their environment in spite of the fact their tails are located inside their bodies. For bacteria, they’re also unusually shaped and active. In this movie, you can see the bacteria that cause Lyme Disease moving like [...]

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The Artful Amoeba

Missing Nitrogen May Be Vanishing in the Tubes of Giant Bacteria

thioploca_flickr_Carola_Espinoza_200

Off the coast of Mexico’s Baja Peninsula lies a dark, still, deep place. It is called the Soledad Basin, and in it lies a garden of bacteria so large you can see them with your own eyes. A 250-m high ridge on the edge of the Soledad basin traps water inside. No strong currents disturb [...]

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The Artful Amoeba

Archaea Are More Wonderful Than You Know

archeum_thermococcus_gammatolerans_angels_tapias_wiki_cc_200

In the 1970s, an obscure scientist named Carl Woese (pronounced “woes”) was working on something apparently rather mundane: finding a way to classify bacteria. Though that may seem a straightforward task, bacteria had stubbornly resisted all previous attempts. The traditional method — looking at differences in appearance, structure, and metabolism and sort of eyeballing it [...]

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The Artful Amoeba

The Dark Bacillus Crystal

Bacillus_thuringiensis-toxin-crystals_wiki_pd_200

In this photograph are elegant, microscopic agents of death. They are crystals made not of minerals, but of protein, and are found not in vugs, but in guts. Bug guts. They are Cry protein crystals made by the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis. You may know them better as Bt toxin. Bt toxin has gotten a lot [...]

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The Artful Amoeba

Mycoplasma “Ghosts” Can Rise From the Dead

mycoplasma_mobile_ghosts_200

As the titles of journal articles go, it’s hard to find one more elegant, enticing and — notably, if you’ve been in the business long — succinct than “Gliding Ghosts of Mycoplasma mobile“. Jules Verne short story? Steampunk Western? No. This was the title of an article in “Cell Biology” back in 2005. But the [...]

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The Artful Amoeba

Classic Artful Amoeba: The Seafaring Killer Bacterium

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Blogger’s Note: As I’m on vacation this week, today I present a post from the archive at theartfulamoeba.com. This post originally appeared on my blog on Feb. 14, 2010. Enjoy! Vibrio cholerae is a bacterium of surprising adaptability, tenacity, and Olympic-class swimming ability. Cholera bacteria can swim in both freshwater and saltwater (a feat most [...]

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The Artful Amoeba

Legionnaire’s Disease at the Luxor: What Causes It?

legionella_pneumophila_cdc_11151_200

In July 1976, a convention of members of the American Legion — a veterans’ group — was meeting in Philadelphia at the Belleville Stratford Hotel in honor of America’s bicentennial. Soon, 221 attendees would be sickened and 34 dead of an illness it was believed no one had ever seen before. Swine flu was suspected, [...]

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The Artful Amoeba

A Bleeding, Breathing Billboard Starring Serratia

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Just days after Sci Am published my story on the “bleeding” bacterium Serratia marcescens, a friend sent me this video, in which the marketing department behind the film “Contagion” up north apparently decided to go super-geek and cook up something delightful. Science as art, my friends. Way, way cool, boys. In addition to Serratia, which [...]

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The Artful Amoeba

Serratia marcescens: A Tale of Bleeding Statues, Cursed Polenta, Insect Liquefaction, and Contact Lens Cases

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Over on the news side today is an article I put together for Scientific American Online on some mysterious, ubiquitous, and sometimes-deadly red bacteria that are probably at this moment living in your shower grout and contact lens case. Plus, when slime molds eat them, their plasmodia turn red like flamingoes eating shrimp turn pink. [...]

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The Artful Amoeba

Cow-like Mealybug Home to Sexy Symbiotic Machine

mealybug_Ron_Hemberger_200

If it goes around on six legs, it doesn’t get much dowdier than the mealybug 1. Powdery, bovine, and frightening if you find them binging on your gardenias, these wax-shedding roving syringes are one of many mosquito-like parasites that plague plants. Yes, sexy, mealybugs are not — unless you look inside them. There, you will [...]

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Brainwaves

The Food Fight in Your Gut: Why Bacteria Will Change the Way You Think about Calories

There’s a food fight in your guts. Not the Tater-Tot-chucking, spoonful-of-mashed potato-flinging, melee-in-the-cafeteria type of food fight. Rather, your intestines are the site of an ancient and complex war between your own cells and trillions of bacteria—a war over what happens to your food as it moves through your body. Some of the bacteria form [...]

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Food Matters

The 4 Billion-Year-Old Story of Obesity

Source: genome.gov, captivating DNA diologue by author

In light of the upcoming celebration of ghosts, ghouls, and of course, the stomach ache-inducing over-consumption of candy, I thought I’d revisit this piece I started earlier this year. And if you eat too much this Halloween, really you’re just acting naturally, so enjoy! Once upon a time some amino acids got smooshed together and [...]

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Food Matters

What’s eating us?

From wikipedia (click for source)

As #SciAmFood week draws to a close, we’ve heard a lot about the food we consume, from not getting enough to astronaut nutrition (and getting too much) to tricking your brain about what it’s getting. But what about the things in our food that consume us? We humans do not live a sterile life, no [...]

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Guest Blog

The top 10 life-forms living on Lady Gaga (and you)

A new truth about Lady Gaga’s health has recently been revealed. She is covered in other life-forms—“her little monsters” you might call them. Contrary to statements otherwise in the media, these life-forms have nothing to do with Lady Gaga’s meat bikini. (For those who need the extra explanation, Lady Gaga is perhaps the most popular [...]

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Guest Blog

Pimp My Virus: Ocean Edition

Image: The starfish-shaped EZ-open structure of mimivirus, above, and the gray DNA-containing nucleocapsid inside, below. The nucleocapsid has plenty of room to breathe and a concave depression, not unlike the dimple on the Death Star, that always faces the "starfish". From PLoS Biology. In 1992, scientists sampled the water from a cooling tower in Bradford, [...]

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Guest Blog

Science Cafe spreads understanding of bacteria over beers

Sophia Kathariou is the kind of scientist who can turn food-borne bacteria into great dinner conversation. The associate professor of food science and microbiology at N.C. State University in Raleigh, N.C., spoke about her work Thursday night at Mitch’s Tavern, a longtime haunt for professors and students alike. The talk was one of Sigma Xi’s [...]

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Lab Rat

The pathogen detectives: sourcing the post-earthquake cholera outbreak in Haiti

this is not a pipe

Natural disasters such as earthquakes can have far-reaching effects beyond the damage caused on the day they occur. The 2010 earthquake in Haiti damaged the already limited sanitation systems leading to areas without adequate toilet and washing facilities; perfect for the spread of infection diseases. Sure enough 9 months following the quake there was an [...]

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Lab Rat

Fighting Cholera With Mass Vaccination

Women walking through the fields for vaccinatoin. Image Credit: Ms HyonJin Jeon (the International Vaccine Institute staff)

When studying bacteria it is quite easy to get fascinated with them as a laboratory specimen while forgetting the huge impact they can have in real life societies. I find the PLoS journal of Neglected Tropical diseases redresses that as it covers work with bacteria and parasites from the front line. My previous post from [...]

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Lab Rat

Innate immunity: the first line of defence

Scanning electron microscope of blood cells used in the innate immune response. Red blood cells are the smooth ones with the dent in the middle, white blood cells are round and knobbly.

The very first line of defence against any invasion of the human body is a set of physical barriers between the inside of the body and the outer world. Defence systems like the skin, tears and the stomach lining might not sound very impressive until you start to think of what happens when they don’t [...]

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Lab Rat

69th Carnival of Evolution: Darwin’s Day Edition

Portrait of Charles Darwin, late 1830s. From Origins, Richard Leakey and Roger Lewin.

Welcome to the 69th edition of the Carnival of Evolution! As February 12th was Darwin’s birthday, this is a Darwin’s Day carnival edition. To start with there’s a celebration of all things Darwinian at Synthetic Daisies, and a letter to the man himself for his 205th birthday. Darwin didn’t know it existed, but nowadays the study [...]

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Lab Rat

Bacteria in space!

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Where humans travel, bacteria will follow. If people are in space for any amount of time, bacteria are sure to thrive there so it’s good to know that there are already researchers looking at how the environment within spaceships affects bacterial populations. Work done on planktonic colonies of bacteria has shown that they can become [...]

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Lab Rat

Categorising bacteria in purple and pink

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When confronted with a new bacteria there are a series of simple tests that can be carried out to give a rough idea of the properties of the bacteria you are dealing with. One of the simplest and most useful tests is known as “Gram staining” which is a process of staining cells either purple [...]

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Lab Rat

Dawn attack: how plants anticipate pathogen infection

Image credit: James Kremer and Sheng Yang He. Reproduced with permission.

Like animals, plants are susceptible to infections from bacteria, viruses and fungi. While animals have a wide variety of immune cells and in some cases an interconnected immune system plants must rely on other methods to fight infection. A recent news bulletin from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute lists a range of exciting ways plants [...]

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Lab Rat

Swirling and whirling: the movement of spherical bacteria

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Research on bacterial movement tends to focus on the rod-shaped bacteria. With the aid of small waving flagella, each bacterial cell can push itself in the direction it wishes to go. They can also move in groups, forming large swarms that ripple and slide their way across Petri dishes. Spherical cells had always been assumed [...]

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Lab Rat

Happy New Year – the blog retrospective

HNY-funky

Last year, my New Year’s Resolution was to try for a child with my husband. As I’m currently typing while trying to entertain a three month old baby I think I can safely claim that as one of the most successful New Year’s Resolutions I’ve ever made. I’ve been blogging at Scientific American for well [...]

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Lab Rat

The SOS response: how bacteria deal with damaged DNA

61px-Dna-split

DNA is important stuff. It’s present in all living organisms on the planet (or ‘almost all’ if you wish to remain friends with virologists) and contains the information required to produce and organise the proteins within a cell. If the DNA is damaged, the cell will very quickly find itself in danger. In multicellular organisms [...]

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Life, Unbounded

Rock-Eating Martian Microbes?

(Credit: White et al. 2014, NASA/JPL)

A recently published study of a 30-pound martian meteorite found in Antarctica suggests the presence of indigenous carbon-rich material, ancient water erosion, and a number of tiny structures that resemble the sort of features that we see rock-eating microbes leaving in basaltic glasses here on Earth. This rock, Yamato 000593, appears to have formed 1.3 [...]

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Life, Unbounded

Astrobiology: We are the Aliens

Bacterial aliens (NASA)

A funny thing happened recently on the way to Mars. A few days after the successful launch of NASA’s behemoth Curiosity rover with its Mars Science Laboratory instruments on November 26th 2011, a somewhat muted piece of news came out admitting that the strict biological planetary protection rules had not been adhered to quite as [...]

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Observations

The FDA’s Action on Agricultural Antibiotics Is Overdue—and Utterly Insufficient

Image: iStock/Thinkstock

Most of the meat on our dinner plates comes from cows and chickens treated with a battery of drugs that helped them grow quickly in dismal, cramped conditions that would otherwise make them sick.  The drugs are blended into their food and water without any requirement for a veterinary prescription. The U.S. Food and Drug [...]

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Observations

Fact Check: New Girl Episode Is All Fun and Games until Someone Gets Legionnaires’ Disease?

Image: Genevieve/Wikimedia Commons

The popular Fox television show “New Girl” provides laughs each week, but last night it veered a bit off course with its Thanksgiving episode. [Spoiler alert ahead – stop reading if you haven’t seen the episode yet and plan to do so.] When Jess (Zooey Deschanel) and the gang decide to spend a “back to [...]

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Observations

Hospital-Based Infections Could Be Moving to Doctors’ Offices

MRSA Image: Janice Haney Carr, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/WIkimedia Commons

When patients check into a hospital, they expect doctors there to fix what ails them, but one in 20 patients seeking care at hospitals contract a health care–based infection. Those infections escalate care costs to the tune of billions of dollars. And many of them–one in five–are part of the scary alphabet soup of superbugs [...]

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Observations

New View into Our Guts Reveals Microbiome’s Murky Links to Health

human microbiome gut health

What is living in your gut? It might depend less on your diet, exercise habits, weight and sex than you think, according to new findings. Our health is tied to trillions of organisms that live in and on us. But the extent of their impact has only recently come into focus. And scientists are just [...]

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Observations

Drug-Resistant Superbugs Kill at Least 23,000 People in the U.S. Each Year

Image: CDC

Each year, more than two million people in the United States develop antibiotic-resistant infections, and at least 23,000 of them die as a result, says the first-ever national snapshot of the issue. That toll only rises when other conditions exacerbated by these infections are included in the count. Because it’s difficult to attribute a death [...]

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Observations

Gut Reaction: Human Colon Replica Demonstrates How E. coli Contaminates Groundwater

false color depiction of E. coli bacteria

Scientists are great at growing E. coli in the lab. They know exactly under which conditions various strains thrive. Unfortunately, there is only so much that can be learned from the bacteria’s behavior in an ideal, isolated and ultimately unrealistic environment. That is why a group of researchers at the University of California, Riverside, decided [...]

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Observations

Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Found in Sharks and Seals

Bacteria, viruses and parasites from land animals such as cats, cows and humans are sickening and killing sea mammals. Scientists have been finding a daunting number of land-based pathogens in seals, dolphins, sharks and other ocean dwellers that wash ashore dead or dying, according to an article by Christopher Solomon in the May 2013 issue [...]

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Observations

Hurricane-Riding Microbes Make a Home at Cruising Altitude

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Sample a hurricane’s air from a plane high in the stratosphere and, in addition to the expected water and grit, you’ll find an abundance of microbes. Swept up from land and sea by the tropical cyclone’s power, the skyborne bacteria persist in the atmosphere for days—and some may even thrive there. A new survey of [...]

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Observations

Breath Test Could Sniff Out Infections in Minutes

breath test to detect lung infection

Bacteria hiding in the lungs might not be able to hide much longer. Although traditional tests can take days or weeks to culture to determine the presence of certain harmful bacteria—such as those that cause tuberculosis—a much more rapid technique for detecting lung infections might be on the horizon. Researchers have developed a test that [...]

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Observations

Common STD Grows Resistant to Treatment in North America

antibiotic resistance gonorrhea std

The most commonly acquired sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in the U.S., chlamydia and gonorrhea, are usually cleared out swiftly and easily with a dose of oral antibiotics. But one of these infections is growing bold and finding ways to evade treatment. More than 321,000 cases of gonorrhea are reported each year in the U.S. alone—and [...]

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Octopus Chronicles

No Shots for the Octopus, Its Immune System Doesn’t Remember

octopus immune system shots

Flu season is almost upon us, so millions of us are already rolling up our sleeves to get the annual shot. This jab is formulated to introduce our immune system to this year’s circulating strains of the virus so that it will remember how to make the specialized antibodies to fend it off the viral [...]

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Oscillator

Biological Decision Making: The Strange Connection Between Cows and Bacteria

Are cows more likely to lie down the longer they stand? This apparently simple question turns out to have an unexpected answer. The study, by a team of Scottish sustainable livestock systems researchers, won the 2013 IgNobel Prize for probability and has left many people puzzled about the mysteries of cow behavior. Unlike horses, cows [...]

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Oscillator

Human Cheese and the Microbial Superhighway

Cheese is a fascinating model for studying the intersection of human and microbial cultures. My project with Sissel Tolaas explores these connections through the process of making cheese using microbes sampled from the human body. Here is a short film for the project featuring interviews with microbiologist Benjamin Wolfe, cheesemaker Seana Doughty, anthropologist Heather Paxson, [...]

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Oscillator

Fractal Bacteria

Figure from Rudge et al. "Cell Polarity-Driven Instability Generates Self-Organized, Fractal Patterning of Cell Layers"

Bacteria are single celled organisms that can do amazing things in multicellular groups, with complex coordinated behaviors emerging from the interaction of genetic networks, chemical environments, and the physics of cell growth. Last year I wrote about the work of Tim Rudge and Fernan Federici and their incredible images of bacterial growth patterns. Their paper, [...]

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Oscillator

Bacterial Encounters at the Salton Sea

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The Salton Sea is California’s largest lake, stretching 35 miles along the San Andreas fault about 150 miles east of Los Angeles and 200 feet below sea level. It is surrounded by harsh desert as well as productive agricultural land irrigated by water from the Colorado River and draining back into the Sea. The Salton [...]

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Oscillator

Bacteriophone: Microbial Wallpapers

I take a lot of photos of bacteria on my phone, and sometimes I use those pictures as my phone’s wallpaper. These photos are meta-phone bacteria wallpapers: photographs of bacteria that I collected off the surface of my phone (h/t to Nick for the microbial inspiration). To sample the phone’s microbiome I simply placed it [...]

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Oscillator

Seeing Bacteria

moyashimon6

I got a really fun early Christmas gift yesterday, Moyasimon 1: Tales of Agriculture, a manga series about a boy who can see microbes. His skills lead to some exciting fermentation-related adventures at his agriculture college. I learned a lot about miso, sake, and meats that ferment underground! The microbes are super cute, and it [...]

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Oscillator

Smelling Bacteria

Bacteria make a lot of smells, mostly ones that we’d rather not think about. The hundreds of volatile compounds that bacterial cultures produce can signal many things, although I’m probably one of very few people who associate the smell of warm E. coli with pleasant lab memories rather than some kind of a hygiene disaster. [...]

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PsiVid

YouTube SpaceLab top 60 Global Finalists Chosen!

YouTube SpaceLab Entrants

Take a look at what some clever American teens have come up with as an idea for an experiment on the International Space Station!     The 60 global  finalists for the YouTube.com/SpaceLab competition were announced Tuesday, January 17th.  Recall from my post in November, that YouTube challenged 14-18 year-old students to design a science [...]

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Streams of Consciousness

When Sleeping Turns Deadly and Other Strange Tales from Scientific American MIND

The July/August issue of Scientific American Mind made its debut online late last week. Here I divulge some of the more surprising and useful lessons from its pages. Dozing Dangerously Sleepwalking is one of the strangest phenomena I have ever witnessed. Despite its name, it doesn’t resemble any other kind of sleep I’ve seen. To [...]

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Symbiartic

What’s Worse Than Fecal Transplants? This Gal.

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Have you caught wind of the latest in medical technology: fecal transplants between friends? The latest commentary (and funniest to date) is a piece by Steve Mirsky in the August 2013 edition of Scientific American telling us to just get over the ick factor “because everything” in life, medicine, and yes, fecal transplants, “is disgusting.” [...]

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Symbiartic

Bacteriography – SciArt needs a Kickstart to Escape the Lab

StarStuff_ZCopfer_mini

Bringing sciart to the public isn’t always an easy task – and the growing (culturing, har har) field of bioart is some of the toughest art to showcase of all. It’s harder than hanging a painting without using nails, as many contemporary galleries insist, leading to those dangling chains from ceiling braces. Bioart, the field [...]

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Symbiartic

One Man’s Poo is Another Man’s PhD

Scientists collect crazy things. I’m not talking thimble-crazy or frog-themed-crazy. That kind of tchotchke barely ranks on the crazy scale. The collections I’m talking about are things like bellybutton lint, whale vomit, and human poo. You mean raw sewage?! Yes, sort of… but straight from the source. Fresh, unadulterated. Yup. And to supersize the irony, [...]

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Symbiartic

SciArt of the Day: Fermented Fashions

12-033FEATURE

What happens when you take a bag of sweaty hockey gear and throw it in a vat of beer for a week? I’m not sure (although I’m sure this must have been tried before), but a researcher and an artist at the University of Western Australia are trying their own fermented fashion experiment. Using a [...]

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