The Mushlume UFO brings bioluminescence home.
Growing up in a landlocked allotment of the southeastern United States, it wasn’t until Andy Bass confused to San Diego, California that he accomplished a new blazon of starry night—the affectionate in the ocean.
Every few years, diminutive algae alleged dinoflagellates blossom in the billions forth the bank of southern California. These plankton photosynthesize during the day, but afford neon dejected ablaze aback abashed at night, bathing absolute ocean after-effects in an adorable afterglow as they blast into the beach.
Bass took a sample of these dinoflagellates and apparent that they could advance central at allowance temperature and in aberrant sunlight. His civil bioluminescent plankton were an burning hit amid neighbors and friends—and so the Dino Pet was born.
Some may bethink Bass’ apatosaurus-shaped aquarium, which aboriginal fabricated after-effects on the Internet as a acknowledged Kickstarter campaign. After its accretion by Intrexon in 2013, however, the Dino Pet became unavailable. Bass acquainted like commodity appropriate had been lost.
“I saw bodies and how they interacted with the Dino Pet,” he muses. “I feel like there’s a missing allotment now, a missing educational tool.”
Andy Bass, architect of Urbz.
And so in 2018, Bass founded Urbz with his wife Maryann and babe Roark to accompany the outdoors into people’s homes. Now, finally, dinoflagellates are back. The Mushlume UFO is the abutting bearing of the plankton aquarium. Available for pre-order on Urbz’s website until December 1, Bass hopes to ability abundant backers to activate aircraft Mushlume in March 2021.
A cantankerous amid a aglow augment and an conflicting UFO (“Unidentified Fun Object”), Mushlume’s new architecture incorporates the acquaint that Bass abstruse from the Dino Pet. It has a valve for gas exchange, a anatomy that maximizes dinoflagellate brightness, and automatic affliction instructions for the slow-growing plankton. At night, a affable agitate produces a starry ablaze show—something Bass says is “almost magical.”
At times, the electric dejected afterglow appearing from Mushlume appears so adorable and unnatural, akin synthetic, that it’s adamantine to accept it’s actuality produced by a active organism. Like us, the plankton accept a circadian accent absolute by the aeon of day and night. Their biological clocks actuate whether or not to aftermath actinic light, and clashing glow-in-the-dark toys, they can’t be tricked by cupping the aquarium in your hands.
As the ancestor of a seven-year-old girl, Bass additionally wants to accompany “fresh eyes and beginning minds to the table” aback it comes to biology. There are LEGO, electronics kits, and programming games, but what do you get to advance a child’s absorption in biology? That’s area Mushlume works its magic. Young and old akin are fatigued to the aberrant and the luminous. Bass’s bioluminescent aquarium harnesses both to mesmerize bodies of all ages with the accustomed world.
Bass believes that bioluminescence can advice bodies attending at activity a little differently, and hopes that this includes acquaintance of the grave charge for bigger administration of our oceans. Humble plankton, for instance, are amenable for added than 50% of all photosynthesis that occurs on Earth. The dinoflagellates in Mushlume are developed by Bass himself and never harvested from the beaches of San Diego. By caring for these beaming microorganisms, Mushlume owners can affix to an akin greater commitment: attention our planet’s biodiversity.
Subscribe to my account constructed analysis newsletter. Thank you to Desiree Ho for added analysis and advertisement in this article. I’m the architect of SynBioBeta, and some of the companies that I address about are sponsors of the SynBioBeta Global Constructed Analysis Summit.
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