[Now, I realize the Airstream Dogs are by no means microscopic (like the microbe), but they are quite interesting (like the microbe), are often difficult to control (like the microbe), and are characterized by a diverse carbon source utilization profile (like the microbe). Hence, their inclusion in this festive holiday post.]
Welcome to the 2009 Edition of Gifts for that Special Microbiologist on your List!
The need for this list has arisen out of the intense global demand for special gifts for microbiologists - because, as we all know, microbiologists are a wonderful group of people: obsessed with the microscopic, brilliant, and just-all-around-fascinating. But because they are such an intensely focused and unique group, shopping for them during the holiday season, or any season for that matter, is a bit of a challenge.
Hence, this list.
In case you've missed previous editions, you can take a look at them by following these links: The 2006 Edition. The 2007 Edition. The 2008 Edition. (I try not to duplicate too much, so you might want to take a look at lists for past years. I haven't gone back and checked to be sure that all of the older links are still good - so be forewarned).
So let's begin!
As the name Bacteriograms implies, this series is closer to photograms than photographs. These images are made without a camera, by cultivating bacteria on the gelatine surface of the negatives, using a similar process as the one used in laboratories to grow bacteria on agar in petri dishes. With this work I want to raise questions about representation and reality; the nature and the place of photographic medium in contemporary society.
As we all know, art is in the eye of the beholder, so we now shift from the exotic bacteriogram to the another microbial art form. Your favorite collection of Agar Art- transferred onto a T-shirt or mug...and then there is microbe-inspired art over at MICROBO-- where you'll find microbe-inspired sketches and paintings.
What about a Critical Art performance? Perhaps you're looking for something a bit more controversial for that special Microbiologist? From Critical Art Ensemble's Position Paper titled 'A Body of Fear in a World of Threat':
Bacterial warfare is one of the recent scareheads that we are being served by the pseudo-scientists who contribute to the flaming pages of the Sunday annexes syndicated over the nation's press....I consider that it is highly questionable if biological agents are suitable for warfare.
So maybe you might want to see when they have another performance so that you can buy a pair of tickets for your special Microbiologist.
Their position paper reminded me of "Germs: Biological Weapons and America's Secret War" by Judith Miller. Perhaps it would be a fun little stocking stuffer for that special (bioterrorism-obsessed) someone?
Now, for a good old-fashioned microbial mystery...
The British Embassy to the UN, suspecting an international conspiracy, asks Margaret Blackburn, the attractive amateur sleuth to investigate a string of murders that spans the globe from Memphis, Tennessee to Brisbane, Australia. The victims are top scientists specialized in bioterrorism research. To accomplish her mission, Margaret has to go to Montreal where she must first reopen the case of Isabelle de Valois, murdered 30 years earlier. The solution of this case is key to the mystery of the murdered microbiologists. This is book V in the series of novels, the Investigations of Margaret Blackburn.
Murdered microbiologists! It just can't be.
Or what about a First Edition copy of Michael Crichton's 1969 The Andromeda Strain?
Now, as for rare books, for that extra EXTRA special Microbiologist in your life - what about this find, describing Robert Brown's first observations on what later became known as 'Brownian motion'? Here's the description of the book from The Manhattan Rare Book Company:
A brief account of microscopical observations made in the months of June, July and August 1827, on the particles contained in the pollen of plants, and on the general existence of active molecules in organic and inorganic bodies, pp. 161-73 in The Philosophical Magazine, Vol. 4. London: R. Taylor, 1828. WITH: Additional remarks on active molecules, pp. 161-6 in The Philosophical Magazine, Vol. 6. London: R. Taylor, 1829. Octavo, contemporary full calf sympathetically rebacked. Two volumes. Institutional stamp on one text leaf (not part of either Brown paper). Fine condition, very handsomely bound.
Handsomely bound indeed! (And do remember that the sky is the limit when it comes to your favorite Microbiologist...so, as for the sky - take a look at this rare first edition of Robert Carswell's 1838 Pathological Anatomy. The drawings of the disease pathologies (see the example below) in this book are simply incredible!
Pardon me, I love books. I was beginning to get a bit off track (and most likely out of everyone's budget range). Enough about rare books...for now.
The Mad Scientists of Etsy have been at it again - and unfortunately the Nerd Ornaments are sold out...but perhaps you could add a little fungus to your holiday celebrations? Interested in a little Penicillium? Unfortunately it looks as if the Strange Strain of Escherichia coli is sold out - but perhaps you could special order for next year? It's never too early to start shopping for next year (at least it's not too early for all of you freaks who do your shopping before the week before Christmas). Oh, and don't forget to take a look at last year's MSOE Microbiology Challenge- there may still be a few items available.
Well - Etsy does seem to be the name of the game this season - a virtual one-stop shopping for all of your microbial gift needs.
What about the MicrobeWorld iPhone app from iTunes?
Back to books (I can't help myself):
And what do you know - there's gift wrap available for this set of slides which include organisms as lovely as pus bacteria and putrefaction-causing bacteria...better yet, make your own slides! However, you might want to read this book first.
~Portrait of the Romanian microscopist Ioan Cantacuzino (1863-1934). Artist signed: A. Lavrillier, Jassy 1918. Bronze plaque 150 mm in diameter. (Image and text legend found here)~
Which of course brings up the subject of microscopes. What microbiologist wouldn't just love to have an antique microscope?
I love the old ones - isn't this collection of brass microscopes fantastic?
Now, before you think about purchasing a microscope in order to surprise that special Microbiologist, go take a look at ars machina.com, and there you'll find a delightful virtual tour of microscopes (with some for sale - how about this circa 1850 Naturalist pocket field microscope?). Here are the microscopes that are for sale at ars machina. And if you're more interesting in learning than doing (and that's most definitely NOT to say that you don't learn while you do, quite the opposite in fact) - what about a gift of 19th Century American Microscope Makers on CD-ROM??? And DO NOT overlook the Antique Microscopes calendar - what a great gift for that special (microbiological) someone!
What about bubbling Erlenmeyer flask earrings? (Oops - sold out). You can never go wrong with jewelry - what about this DNA charm...or why not splurge and stop by MoMA and get the necklace, bracelet and earrings?
[please ignore the bullets throughout the rest of this post. I have no idea what is happening, but I can't turn them OFF!!! It's driving me nuts - it's like the bullet button is stuck ON. I'll come back and see if I can fix it when (1) it's not so late, and (2) I remember to come back and see if I can fix it.]
So is your special Microbiologist a tad fearful of...viruses? If so, give them a gift that let's them dispense soap out of the common cold, a rhinovirus magnified a million times.
Now this I loved - a Microbiological Chart:
Microorganisms are identified and illustrated in sixty different 2 1/2″ full-color squares. The illustrations are shown at 1,000X magnification, and stained specimens appear in their correct colors. The top and bottom of the chart have metal bindings. Size: 25″ x 35″.
For something different and more interactive for that special Microbiologist - why not plan a trip to visit the Marian Koshland Science Museum of the National Academy of Sciences (located in NW Washington, DC)? There you can see an exhibit on infectious disease - and then take a short walk to the Bookstore of the National Academies.
Now, if the microbiologist in your life has been extra, EXTRA good, you might want to consider getting them the Roche Genome Sequencer FLX Titanium Series (hint, hint).
Finally, while a 454 sequencer would be delightful, let's be honest for a minute. What do any of us really want? Some time. Someone sharing our passions. So why not shell out $20 for that special microbe-loving someone, and download the following article:
Roger Y. Stanier. 1980. The Journey, not the Arrival, Matters. Annual Review of Microbiology. Vol. 34, Pages 1-49
For those of you not familiar with Stanier, well, shame on you.
By depicting the course of evolution in terms of efficient endocytosis, Stanier directed attention to organellar structures and their eventual symbiotic relationships. He explained that the variety of cytoplasmic structures bearing colour pigments actually reflected ancient evolutionary diversity. Photopigment synthesis of free-living forms would have been preserved in the photosynthetic organelles. In time, nuclear organization prevented the evolutionary paths of cosymbionts from freely going their own way. His exceptional insight led him to appreciate the evolutionary significance of bacterial photosynthesis; it was the basis by which he traced the adaptation of organisms from anoxygenic (anaerobic) to oxygenic (aerobic) lifeforms. This produced a turning point in evolution when he realized that pigments in microorganisms played the important role of trapping energy from light. Selection in the emerging eukaryotic cell would have centred on improved efficacy of predation. He then fathomed that special relationships of microbial groups with unique physiological properties tend to occur to establish a shared opportunity for their survival.
But how delightful it will be when you wake up Christmas morning, and your special Microbiologist unwraps a reprint of Stanier's 1980 article...and you offer to read it outloud to your beloved Microbiologist by the fire.
~Roger Y. Stanier (image found here)~
Now the 1980 article would be a definite hit, but if this is a Microbiologist that you really want to impress, go back to this piece: Stanier, R.Y. 1951. The life-work of a founder of bacteriology. A review of Microbiologie du Sol (Winogradsky). Quart. Rev. Biol. 26:35-37.
This should knock the socks off any Microbiologist worth their salt - I mean, Stanier writing about Winogradsky?
Now if that doesn't scream Happy Holidays, what does?