May 31, 2013
Julius Richard Petri's 161st Birthday
The vast majority of living things around us are invisible to the naked eye. The bottom of a shoe, the inside of a mouth, the surface of a piece of cheese – all of these are miniature ecosystems for a variety of cellular life, but in the course of our day-to-day we rarely notice them.
Taking samples from the world around us and inoculating a petri dish is an effective and easy way to see these miniature ecosystems in full swing. The petri dish, invented by Julius Richard Petri in the late 1800s, allows a scientist – or any casual observer – to easily see bacterial growth suspended in a plane of agar (a gelatinous substance that bacteria find delicious).
In a labratory setting, this setup can be used to test the resilience of certain strains of bacteria. But a hobbyist can use petri dishes to check out the delightfully gross bacteria hanging out in their pet's mouth, on their plate, or on a doorknob!
For this doodle we worked with Google's video team, Studio G, to set up a makeshift lab on campus. After swabbing the dishes, we took a photo every twenty minutes for two weeks to get the timelapse above. As you can see from these behind-the-scenes shots, we had a wide variety of samples and picked the best ones at the end of the photoshoot.
It was a blast to do this little science experiment, and we hoped it inspired you to try it for yourself! Many thanks to my collaborators: Mark Ivey, Jesse Eisenhardt, Michelle Ortega, and Tyler Watkins.
Posted by Sophia Foster-Dimino, Doodler