Spotted: E. coli bacterium in Oklahoma City. Not to worry, this specimen is not alive. It’s a glass sculpture by artist Luke Jerram and it’s going on display this week at the Oklahoma City Art Museum as part of an exhibit called FUSION [A New Century of Glass]. The work, aptly named E. coli, is a clear glass figure, complete with flagellum – the tiny hairs on an E. coli cell – flowing from its sides and back. While E. coli bacteria are typically microscopic, measuring around 1 micrometer wide and anywhere from 2 – 6 micrometers long, this one is amplified to almost 4 1/2 feet long and 11/2 feet wide. The piece “explores the tension between scientific objectivity and cultural perceptions of viruses, diseases, and bacteria,” according to the museum. The exhibit opens June 14 and runs through September 9. For more information, visit the Oklahoma City Art Museum’s website.

  • The flagella are long protein strands used for locomotion. They are turned by one of the few known rotary motors in biology. The much shorter and more numerous filaments are fimbrae (often used for attachment) and pili (used for conjugation), Yup, bacterial sex ($1 USD/peek).

  • Cam Aujuard

    A friend once told me that if you visit the town of “Santa Nella” California (South Hwy / U.S. 5, about 40 miles south of Stockton, CA) they have a large sculture of a “Salmonella” bacterium as does the City of Norwalk CA in So-Calli that boast of their sculture of the Norovirus. Upstate New York along the N.Y.S. (RT. 87 /90) Thruway, you’ll also find a large sculture of the “Coxsacky” virus in the town of Coxsacky, N.Y. where it got it’s name due to it’s discovery there. However. I’m not sure if any of these other communities charge for any peeking.

  • Ruby

    My sister had an especially virulent local strain of gonorrhea named after her but she wasn’t flattered…she hasn’t let it go to her head, anyways. Maybe a statue or historical marker would buck her up?