This swirling mass may look like some kind of LSD trip, but it’s actually fractal artwork created using bacteria.
Produced by Eshel Ben-Jacob — a scientist-cum-artist at Tel Aviv University — the piece came about thanks to two strains of bacteria which grew together in interesting and weird ways. to grow in different ways. Smithsonian explains:
As opposed to letting the bacteria grow in uniform conditions, for scientific purposes, he might let them grow at one temperature in an incubator, take them out, expose them and then put them back in the incubator. He also, at times, added antibiotics and other treatments to the petri dishes in order to incite a physical response. The bacteria, it turned out, communicated with one another in response to these stressors; they secreted lubricants, allowing them to move, and formed elaborate patterns with dots and vine-like branches.
From the first instant he saw a colony, Ben-Jacob called it bacteria art. “Without knowing anything, you’ll feel the sense that there is drama going on,” he says.