Thursday, 6 June 2013


The blog's been a little quite lately due to exams and other things that me and Jessica have had to attend to after the end of the Easter, however, I'm now making a rather overdue post to document some updates of our progress.

The Algae Plates

The plates have really taken off and are starting to grow really nicely. Annette did some new ones as well which really show off what the algae can do when applied more thickly. The red and green varieties gave quite different effects. The single celled green type seems much more effective for defined lines and grows much faster than the filamentous red type. The filamentous variety does also have quite a nice look in the right context and the two types seem to grow quite happily together.

Below are two quite bad attempts of drawing cats with algae! The different properties of the algae types are quite well shown here. The red filamentous type has very little of any kind of defined line.

The Algae Tubes

Annette went down to the glassblowers to see whether she could turn the old test tubes into hang able ornaments. As shown from the pictures below, it was indeed possible to fashion a small loop on the top of a tube so it could be hung up. It was however impossible to make them into rings like I had suggested because the heat would destroy the algae if applied that close.

In the initial trials the procedure also failed because the algae were destroyed by reacting with nitrogen which resulted in it losing its colour. This problem was solved by back-filling the tubes with argon. Argon being a noble gas is very unreactive and prevented this unfortunate bleaching effect from happening. The tubes were then sealed and a loop was added. Despite not being rings, I still think they're effective and remind me of wind chimes. They could be interesting to use in some sort of mobile.

Later on, Annette went back to the glassblowers to produce many of the tubes returning with fantastic results! Below are some photos of the finished products. Note all the different colours that the algae are capable of producing.

Other Algae Tests

The algae in the sphere by this point seems to be unfortunately losing its colour. This is probably because it has run out of nutrients to grow on.

The algae didn't take to the tube at all for some reason. This seems peculiar because algae often seem to grow in unwanted places and on plastic all the time when you don’t want it to! All I can speculate is that because this tube was for brewing, perhaps it’s been treated so that algae wouldn't grow on it as this would be problematic for its actual purpose.

Growing the fungi on agar plates seemed to be quite successful. The fungi grew better when the lids were removed.

Fascination of Plants Day

Below are some pictures Jessica took from the Fascination of Plants Day to show our finished flower and bee on display. Unfortunately I couldn't be there but I'm hoping to attend the Festival of Nature sometime this month.

Lastly, sadly we had no positive response from the ants. For an unknown reason they did not burrow in the gel, so unfortunately we have no pictures as of yet of this trial.

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