Team:Cambridge/Blog/Week 9



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Week 9 : 22nd of August to 28th of August


The team will be writing a guest blog-post at Scientific American at some point in the near future.


Hurrah! We have our first tangible success as a bacterial extract is spun into an iridescent film. Our microscopic images are particularly interesting - worth a look.

The day is doubly a success, since the BBC have chosen to film us as part of a Horizon documentary! In general jubilation we celebrate with dinner at a restaurant.


It is no secret that a large portion of interesting scientific studies are not the result of years of diligent labour and careful thought, but are found through lucky mistakes. One of the team accidently scratches one of our precious thin films when viewing it under a microscope and is amazed to see 'spidering' patterns spreading across the slide. On taking a few films with a video microscope, it seems that our reflectin is self-organising into highly-dynamic branching tubules, with growth prompted by dessication, and shrinking by hydration.

The team are really pleased (it's very cool!), but aren't quite sure if it's really useful.


After a lot of playing-around with our thin films we find that breathing upon them creates these rather nice dynamic patterns. Heating them a little (say, by holding them in warm hands) shifts their colour towards the red end of the spectrum, and heating them strongly makes them entirely red.

Somebody points out that the microscopic videos taken yesterday were only at 5x magnification... and indeed when a thin film is scratched we see a meshwork of tiny sinister tendrils with the naked eye, growing un-nervingly quickly.

Plans are afoot to make possibly-the-weirdest-screen-ever-to-exist with our protein.


It's been an excellent Summer weather-wise - neither the drought nor sad washout that we've had to become accustomed to, but a very English summer - warm but not hot and rather green.