Quarks to Quasars

 Bacteriograph by Copfer

The Cringing Art Form of Developing Photos with Bacteria

Copfer’s method of photography, self-coined as Bacteriography, is similar to the common photo developing process with a few major exceptions. Rather than using light sensitive photographic paper and exposing it to light, the bio-artist uses genetically altered bacteria in a petri dish and exposes it to short-wavelength ultraviolet radiation. Once he’s satisfied with the bacterial growth (and, thus, the image), Copfer refrigerates the bacteriograph, does another radiation treatment to kill any microbes, and seals it with a layer of acrylic.

(Source: sciencetothepowerofart.com)

Bacteria Friends by Alison Kim

Bacteria Make Hydrogen Fuel From Water

Most of the renewable energy sources that are under consideration involve an obvious source of energy — light, heat, or motion. But this is the second time this year there has been a paper that has focused on a less obvious source: the potential difference between fresh river water and the salty oceans it flows into. But this paper doesn’t simply use the difference to produce some electricity; instead, it adds bacteria to the process and takes out a portable fuel: hydrogen.

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A micro-organism (from the Greek: μικρός, mikrós, “small” and ὀργανισμός, organismós, “organism”; also spelt micro-organism, micro organism or microörganism) or microbe is a microscopic organism that comprises either a single cell (unicellular or cell clusters.[1] The study of microorganisms is called microbiology, a subject that began with Anton van Leeuwenhoek's discovery of microorganisms in 1675, using a microscope of his own design.

In the Image:

1. A cluster of Escherichia coli Bacteria magnified 10,000 times.

2. Staphylococcus aureus bacteria magnified about 10,000x

5 Everyday Things that Happen Strangely In Space

1. Water boils in a big bubble (video here)

On Earth, boiling water creates thousands of tiny vapor bubbles. In space, though, it produces one giant undulating bubble.

Fluid dynamics are so complex that physicists didn’t know for sure what would happen to boiling water in microgravity until the experiment was finally performed in 1992 aboard a space shuttle. Afterward, the physicists decided that the simpler face of boiling in space probably results from the absence of convection and buoyancy — two phenomena caused by gravity. On Earth, these effects produce the turmoil we observe in our teapots.

Much can be learned from these boiling experiments. According to NASA Science News, “Learning how liquids boil in space will lead to more efficient cooling systems for spacecraft … [It] might also be used someday to design power plants for space stations that use sunlight to boil a liquid to create vapor, which would then turn a turbine to produce electricity.”

2. Flames are spheres

On Earth, flames rise. In space, they move outward from their source in all directions. Here’s why:

The closer you are to the Earth’s surface, the more air molecules there are, thanks to the planet’s gravity pulling them there. Conversely, the atmosphere gets thinner and thinner as you move vertically, causing a gradual decline in pressure. The atmospheric pressure difference over a height of one inch, though slight, is enough to shape a candle flame.

That pressure difference causes an effect called natural convection. As the air around a flame heats up, it expands, becoming less dense than the cold air surrounding it. As the hot air molecules expand outward, cold air molecules push back against them. Because there are more cold air molecules pushing against the hot molecules at the bottom of the flame then there are at its top, the flame experiences less resistance at the top. And so it buoys upward.

When there’s no gravity, though, the expanding hot air experiences equal resistance in all directions, and so it moves spherically outward from its source.

3. Bacteria grow more… and grow more deadly

Thirty years of experiments have shown that bacterial colonies grow much faster in space. Astro-E. coli colonies, for example, grow almost twice as fast as their Earth-bound counterparts. Furthermore, some bacteria grow deadlier. A controlled experiment in 2007 testing salmonella growth on the space shuttle Atlantis showed that the space environment changed the expression of 167 of the bacteria’s genes. Studies performed after the flight found that these genetic tweaks made the salmonella almost three times more likely to cause disease in mice than control bacteria grown on Earth.

There are several hypotheses as to why bacteria thrive in weightlessness. They may simply have more room to grow than they do on Earth, where they tend to clump together at the bottom of petri dishes. As for the changes in gene expression in salmonella, scientists think they may result from a stress response in a protein called Hfq, which plays a role in controlling gene expression. Microgravity imposes mechanical stresses on bacterial cells by changing the way liquids move over their surfaces. Hfq responds by entering a type of “survival mode” in which it makes the cells more virulent.

By learning how salmonella responds to stress in space, scientists hope to learn how it might handle stressful situations on Earth. Hfq may undergo a similar stress response, for example, when salmonella is under attack by a person’s immune system.

4.You can’t burp beer

Because no gravity means no buoyant force, there’s nothing pushing gas bubbles up and out of carbonated drinks in space. This means carbon dioxide bubbles simply stagnate inside sodas and beers, even when they’re inside astronauts’ bellies. Indeed, without gravity, astronauts can’t burp out the gas — and that makes drinking carbonated beverages extremely uncomfortable.

Luckily, a company in Australia has concocted a brew that’ll be just the thing for kicking back on spaceflights. Vostok 4 Pines Stout Space Beer is rich in flavor, but weak in carbonation. A nonprofit space research organization called Astronauts4Hire is looking into whether the beer will be safe for consumption on future commercial spaceflights.

5. A rose by the same name smells… different

Flowers produce different aromatic compounds when grown in space, and as a result, smell notably different. This is because volatile oils produced by plants — the oils that carry fragrance — are strongly affected by environmental factors like temperature, humidity and a flower’s age. Considering their delicacy, it isn’t surprising that microgravity would affect the oils’ production as well.

An “out of this world” fragrance produced by a variety of rose called Overnight Scentsation flown on the space shuttle Discovery in 1998 was later analyzed, replicated and incorporated into “Zen,” a perfume sold by the Japanese company Shiseido.

Ten Things Bacteria Can Do That You Can’t

We humans like to think we’re pretty great. We have things like the Mona Lisa, and the Large Hadron Collider, and The Kind of Chocolate Sauce That Turns Solid When You Put It On Ice Cream. Still, it turns out that if aliens were to visit planet Earth and kidnap the dominant species, they’d go for bacteria over us any day. There are more of them, they’re more diverse, they’ve been around a lot longer, and between the lot of them, they’ve achieved a lot more. Have a look at ten things that bacteria do with their bare flagella that we could never manage to duplicate.

10. Live for 34,000 years.

In Death Valley, researchers found salt crystals that had tiny, fluid-filled pockets in them. In those pockets were 34,000-year-old bacteria. Not a species of bacteria that was 34,000 years old; an actual 34,000-year-old organism that had put itself in suspended animation for tens of thousands of years. And they didn’t look a day over thirty.

9. Be their own ecosystem.

In a goldmine in South Africa, there isn’t much room for life. There’s no sun, and no complex plants or animals providing nutrients to feed on. There is, however, a kind of bacteria. One kind of bacteria. It takes the heat of the mine and the water that fills the bottom and harvests everything it needs from the elements - literally. There is no life in the mine besides Desulforudis audaxviator, the world’s most self-sufficient organism.

8. Make gold nanoparticles.

Gold sprinkles the land, but in only a few places does it come in solid enough form that it’s worth collecting. And the main reason it does that is bacteria. Certain bacteria dissolve gold into nanoparticles, and those nanoparticles move freely through the soil until they collect in certain areas. Whenever a prospector strikes it rich, he or she should thank the humble bacteria. I’m guessing they don’t, though.

7. Glow in the dark.

Bacteria are the source of most bioluminescence in sea life. Some squid carry bacteria in their bodies that allow them to glow, and many bioluminescent fish have pouches of bacteria which manufacture the enzyme luciferase, which glows in the dark. And not just under black light. That’s cheating.

6. Be the world’s tiniest ninja.

Nanobacteria occupy only 20 nanometers. They’re somewhat controversial, since some scientists believe that such a small space can’t possibly hold the components necessary for life. And maybe that’s true. For these bacteria are not life - they are death! In the lab they tend to occupy dying mammalian cells. In real life, they’ve been linked to numerous health problems - but the link has never been certain. They are silent. They are untraceable. And they are deadly.

5. Live on Mars.

Oh, I’m not saying they do. I’m saying they could. Discoveries of colonies of live bacteria in liquid pockets in the dry valleys of Antarctica, they could definitely live somewhere below the surface of Mars.

4. Survive in boiling water.

Most of us are only comfortable in that tiny fraction of an inch that our shower knob that allows us to get the right temperature of water. If we so much as nudge the knob, or if someone in the room flushes the toilet, we jump out of the water, screaming. Not so with botulism bacteria. This deadly little number can survive boiling water. It’s only when the water is pressurized, so it boils at a higher temperature, that botulism dies off.

3. Modify their own genes.

Bacteria gain new abilities by swiping genes from other bacteria they encounter. If humans were able to do the same, it would be a little like being able to grow spots after petting a leopard. The process is called horizontal gene transfer, and it allows the bacteria to gain resistance to antibiotics.

2. Protect themselves from radioactivity and toxic environments

Some kinds of bacteria that live in radioactive areas have worked out ways of defending against taking in heavy metals. Not only is this of interest to biologists, but engineers are working out ways of using these bacteria to harvest heavy metals. Humans shrink from Uranium. Bacteria pick it up and use it as armor.

1. Digest your food.

Yes, you can’t even do that on your own. As thousands of yogurt commercials have no doubt told you, you need bacteria to help you. And while they’re down there, they do things like protect against other types of infection, regulate your immune system, and some, Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, even fight elements that cause cancer.

That’s right. The goop in your stomach fought cancer today. And what did you do? Via The Huffington Post, Wired, Discovery, The Charlotte Observer, Wired, Science AGoGo, Making Your Own Beer, Current.com, Nanowerk, and The Naked Scientist.

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