Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Tiny Life

Sculpture inspired by cyanobacteria - organisms that both support our atmosphere and produce toxins

26 September 2018

Tiny Life

One of the oldest and tiniest organisms on the planet, cyanobacteria have a tricky relationship with humans. Billions of years ago, their photosynthesis pumped out oxygen that kick-started our evolution;. This sculpture, ‘∞ Blue’ (Infinity Blue) measures over nine metres high – a million times the size of the cyanobacterium that inspired it. Part of an installation by Studio Swine recently opened at The Eden Project (Cornwall, UK), every few seconds gas cannons inside fire out scented smoke rings – similar perhaps to how the tiny bacteria support our atmosphere from rivers and lakes around the world. Yet even with their vital role in our existence, cyanobacteria produce cyanotoxins that are potentially harmful to humans. NASA is currently supporting a 'lake observer' project to monitor real bacterial levels in American lakes using specialist drones.

Written by John Ankers

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