Museum of the Invisible

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There are plenty of museums to visit in Amsterdam. You can see ancient art, contemporary art, objects of everyday life of the past, objects of everyday life in the present. There are museums of funny things, beautiful things, historical things, useful things, but also invisible things.

Yes, Amsterdam has a museum of invisible things! Micropia is a new museum displaying all sorts of microbes. I visited last weekend, and it’s awesome!

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Credit: Fleur Amsen
Credit: Fleur Amsen
Credit: Fleur Amsen

Near the entrance of the museum, a large evolutionary tree is projected on the wall, introducing all the microbes and the diversity of microbes. What follows can best be described as a very interactive microbiology lesson, including peeking through microscopes, looking at all the micro organisms in your own body, and seeing fungi grow.

Credit: Fleur Amsen
Credit: Fleur Amsen

You can also watch real scientists at work. The scientists, however, but don’t have multi-coloured flashing lights, and the only zooming in you can do is by stepping closer. So, they cannot really compete with the microbes they are studying.

As with every museum, of course, there is a take home message: microbes are everywhere, there are a lot of them, we cannot live without them. And don’t forget to buy a new toothbrush regularly.

Would you like to meet a Tardigrade?

In the Canopy with Water Bears and Wheelchairs

We’ve already met tardigrades (or water bears) virtually. If you are an undergraduate with an ambulatory disability, you also have an opportunity to meet tardigrades in the tops of trees.

At ScienceOnline 2014 I learned from Meg Lowman & Rebecca Tripp during a very impressive keynote presentation about a research program to study tardigrades in forest canopies that was specifically focused on making field research accessible to individuals with ambulatory disabilities. Not only was the research fascinating (water bears are EVERYWHERE), but it also represents an important effort to help the social practice of knowledge building that we call science actually include the diversity of our society.

The project is organized through the lab of William Miller at Baker University in Kansas. If you or someone you know might be interested, contact check-out the announcement flyer below, the information sheet below that, and contact the Miller lab. The application deadline is 14 March 2014. Act quickly while supplies last.REU-2014-AnnouncmentFlyer-2 (1)

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