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6 living, growing pieces of art

By: Bryan Nelson on April 19, 2013, 1:52 p.m.
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'M81 Star Stuff,' Zachary Copfer

This might appear to be an image of a spiral galaxy, but it's actually art (of a spiral galaxy!) created from living E. coli bacteria. Created by artist-scientist Zachary Copfer, the piece is one in a series of works that aim to blur the dichotomy between art and science.

"I believe that the dichotomy often imposed on the fields of art and science is extremely limiting to both areas of study," Copfer writes on his website. "I create visual art that is about deeply exploring the beauty and poetry that reside in scientific theories."

The way that Copfer creates his art is a scientific concoction of his own design. Basically, he bombards a petri dish full of bacteria with radiation. A photographic negative of the image he wants to create is put over the top of the petri dish so that the radiation only kills off the bacteria that aren't a part of the image. The finished works are called "bacteriographs."