Giant Floating E. Coli Sculpture Unveiled by University Academics and Installation Artist
16th October 2015
A giant, 28 metre (90 foot) long inflatable sculpture of an E.
coli bacterium has been revealed today by the University of Sheffield. The sculpture, which is about five million times bigger than a real E. coli bacterium, has been suspended from the ceiling of Sheffield's Winter Garden. The bacterium has been scaled up to such a size that if a person standing next to it was expanded to the same extent they would be about 9,000,000 metres tall the equivalent of 29,527,000 feet or 5,592 miles, which is the same as travelling from the UK to Japan. The artwork, which has been developed by installation artist Luke Jerram in consultation with University of Sheffield academics, is so large it has had to be produced by Cameron Balloons; the world's largest hot air balloon manufacturer. It is made of PVC and Ripstop fabric and features DNA, pili (hair-like spikes) and five flagella long tails which are characteristic of many types of motile (moving) bacteria. The installation has been unveiled as part of the University of Sheffield's KrebsFest; a seven week festival celebrating the life and work of the university's Nobel Prize winning academic Sir Hans Krebs, who was awarded the Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1953 for discovering the Krebs cycle the conversion of food into energy within a cell. The theme of the Festival is -Hidden Worlds, shedding light on unseen wonders of nature. Jerram's work is designed to make the microscopic world around us visible and draw attention to the hidden workings and biological mechanisms that underpin life on earth; the importance of bacteria in our lives. The use of bacteria is vital in medical research, and although some forms of E. coli can cause illness or even death, it is simultaneously described by scientists as the workhorse of biochemistry, with E. coli bacteria used to replicate DNA, synthesise proteins and as a model to understand the basic principles of life. Luke Jerram, lead artist for the University of Sheffield's KrebsFest, said: -Making visible, the microscopic world around us, the artwork was made as an experimental object to contemplate and allow the public to experience a dizzying perception of scale. Bacteria are our ancestors. They were the earliest form of life on our planet and exist everywhere in the world, from the deepest oceans, deserts and even in the clouds. Bacteria are the simplest form of free living life. -I'm interested to find out what the public make of the artwork. Does the bacteria look scary, beautiful, comical or alien? For more information on KrebsFest visit www.krebsfest.group.shef.ac.uk