What a dish!
December 17, 2006 6:56 PM   Subscribe

posted by Science! at 7:14 PM on December 17, 2006

Some of these look an awful lot like some stuff I've thrown out from my refridgerator. But some of the others ones are really beautiful. Neat stuff!
posted by fenriq at 7:15 PM on December 17, 2006

Freakin' awesome!
posted by Science! at 7:15 PM on December 17, 2006

Cool. I wish I hadn't been eating at the time, but very beautiful. Fungi are underrated.
posted by Listener at 7:16 PM on December 17, 2006

Yeah, the feathery ones work, but the puffy ones ... "beautiful" isn't the word I'd use
posted by Tuffy at 7:16 PM on December 17, 2006

Wow... grow your own respiratory infection at home! Beautiful, true, but don't go smelling the Aspergillus in bloom...
posted by bloomicy at 7:22 PM on December 17, 2006

So is there a safe way to do this at home? Some bacteria which are non-threatening to humans?
posted by orthogonality at 7:37 PM on December 17, 2006

Beautiful. Originally from here.

For those interested, and at a university with subscriptions, I recommend looking at the review article

Diffusion-limited aggregation: a kinetic critical phenomenon?, Sander L. M., Contemporary Physics, Volume 41, Number 4, 1 July 2000, pp. 203-218(16)

Patterns like this appear to occur in many materials: electrodeposition of zinc, bacteria diffusing, sputtering of ions and of course, treelike / branchlike formations in nature, although. to my knowledge, fractal patterns in trees etc. are thought to come from a different, more complex algorithm.

I also recommend looking at
Cooperative self-organization of microorganisms, Ben-Jacob E, Cohen I, Levine H, ADVANCES IN PHYSICS 49 (4): 395-554 JUN 2000

Which is a 160 page treasure-trove of fractal microbial goodness, kind of like like D'arcy thompsons On Growth and Form for the early 21st century.
posted by lalochezia at 7:43 PM on December 17, 2006

There are plenty of bacteria, molds, and yeast that aren't a health hazard. But without experience identifying and isolating them or a pure source you'll have a very hard time telling exactly what you're growing.

Making sterile agar plates, and keeping tools and a work area clean at home is another thing too. You can start out with a perfectly safe colony and without good aseptic techniques you'll soon contaminate everything with tons of potentially harmful bacteria and you won't know what. A couple of thousand nasty bacteria cells on your hand might never cause a problem, but billions and billions of them on plates designed to make them grow will cause a problem.
posted by Science! at 7:49 PM on December 17, 2006

Very nice! So, fungi, what are they, plants or animals?
posted by carmina at 7:55 PM on December 17, 2006

Good question. I'd say neither, but then it depends on how you define your terms. About the best you can do is weigh the options, choose your team and get ready for a fight should you meet a differently minded phylogenist in a dark alley.
posted by Science! at 8:02 PM on December 17, 2006

So, fungi, what are they, plants or animals?

Erm...neither. I didn't know this was still up for debate...surely the last time anyone considered fungi to be plants was about a century ago? They are placed in a monophyletic group with animals, as they are considered more closely related to animals than plants, but they are still placed in their own kingdom.
posted by Jimbob at 9:25 PM on December 17, 2006

Been thinking of posting the Mississippi from this site.
posted by kingfisher, his musclebound cat at 5:16 AM on December 18, 2006 [1 favorite]

Brings back memories. Mine were never that pretty. Neat post.
posted by LoriFLA at 6:28 AM on December 18, 2006

They look like paintings or stained glass but even more awesome for naturally occuring. Or did the dish gardeners help these growths along like bonsai?
posted by bobobox at 7:08 AM on December 18, 2006

Jimbob, I know, the answer was already in my link. Oh well, I ... err... tried a joke. You know, gardens, plants, animals. OK, nevermind, never again!
posted by carmina at 8:34 AM on December 18, 2006

Ow, the images make me think of experiments gone bad...
posted by ubersturm at 9:38 AM on December 18, 2006

Incredible post. Thank you.

If anyone wants to see some more Petri Dish art in action, believe it or not Darron Aronofsky used microphotographic footage of some chemical reactions in petri dishes in his latest film, The Fountain.

He decided to choose this "organic" method over CGI as it really does make the film look timeless. I see a CGI movie these days and I can just tell it'll look ridiculous not even ten years from now.
posted by ageispolis at 6:42 PM on December 18, 2006

lalochezia, Thanks for the cites there. I am reading both articles. Pattern formation is such a compelling topic.
posted by kuatto at 7:41 PM on December 18, 2006

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