The collaboration of science and art is perhaps not something many would consider a workable match, but at Bristol University, these two disciplines are being unified to produce a piece of art to be on show at the new life-sciences building. This blog will be following our progress over the next few weeks as we research artistic ideas and their scientific plausibility. Our aim: to help create a hopefully unique and eye catching piece that represents the work of all the life-science departments.
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
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.