Microbes make our lives better in countless ways. They are the reason yogurt and cheese taste delicious. These tiny beings also fight deadly diseases — in fact, they made penicillin, the “wonder drug” that has saved millions of lives, possible. They even feed on waste and turn it into fertiliser.
Now, microorganisms could light up our living rooms.
BioPop focuses on creating “living art,” or decorative art that uses living organisms. In the process, it could encourage researchers to look at microbes as an eco-friendly source of light.
In the wild, that light is the result of a sort of fight-for-life that plays itself out in the water. When danger lurks, these tiny creatures become excited and flash bioluminescence as a signal to expose their enemies to bigger predators.
The dinoflagellates save up enough sunlight during the day to turn it into chemical energy through photosynthesis — so that they can glow when the night falls.
Here’s what this will look like in your home: A reservoir on the roof could store the dinoflagellates during the day so that they can photosynthesize. At night, they flow from the roof — while being shaken in the process — through a tube to light up the lamp.
The Biolamp, which is still a prototype, is not yet ready for commercial release. However, it could go in a gallery or a museum, BioPop tells Tech Insider.
The company did something similar when it launched DinoPet, a mini-aquarium in the shape of a dinosaur filled with plankton that glow when shaken. BioPop now sells these “pets” for $US60.
It’s not that simple to get the critters to glow. After all, dinoflagellates are living beings that follow a strict wake-sleep schedule — commonly known as the circadian rhythm.
BioPop, for instance, raises its dinoflagellates in raised in San Diego, California. They wake up at 5 am and go to bed around 6 pm PST. So when you get your DinoPet, you need to give the plankton some time to get into a new routine. Moreover, they should get at least 12 hours of light in order to keep glowing for that many hours afterwards.
It’s easy to find DIY tips to care for light-emitting creatures at home. A number of online vendors, including Empco, Sunny Side Seafarms, and Carolina Biological, sell bioluminescent algae and fungi kits.
And eventually, you could brighten your home with BioPop’s bioluminescent lamps — without worrying too much about the electricity bill.
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