Marin Sawa's Algaerium photograph

Marin Sawa's Algaerium

I love this photograph – it’s Guan Lee’s shot of Marin Sawa’s Algaerium interior design project (seen over at Inhabitat).  I love the muted earthy tones with both a watery organic feeling, and brittle clean science fiction vibe.

It doesn’t hurt that algae are such a strange and wonderful kingdom of living curiousness.  Not animal, and in a different (but distantly related) biological category to plants – algae is different enough to be all on its own.

Then add in the fact some kinds can be eaten, some are fertilizer, some can be used as  biofuel, some efficiently scrub CO2 into oxygen for us to breathe (potentially in space) and some even glow.  Glow!

I love things that glow – LEDs, foxfire fungi, EL cable, plasma, UV florescence – anything!  So it should be no surprise that this Instructables article on how to grow your own bioluminescent algae is seriously testing my resolve to resist.  What plans I’d have!  To master the art of growing algacultures, and then breeding them selectively for brightness – dividing batches up and then using a sensitive light meter to discover which batch produced more light, then binning the failures.  On and on I’d select, until only the brightest, glowiest algae was mine.

I like to imagine I’d select just as the Victorians did – breeding for beauty as they did with roses, tulips and pansies.  Playing God with some of the world’s tiniest living light bulbs.  Maybe, in 20 years time, people will read by the illumination of my own special algal strain, swirling crystal balls of living light to illuminate their way and wisdom.

Even if I never got that far, knowing that I can buy a flask of glowing algae for less than half the price of a newly released videogame is incredibly tempting!