Argonne National Laboratory

Video: Microbial Bebop - "Fifty Degrees North, Four Degrees West"

This musical composition was created from data of microbes (bacteria, algae and other microorganisms) sampled in the English Channel. Argonne National Laboratory biologist Peter Larsen created the songs as a unique way to present and comprehend large datasets.

More details: All of the data in this composition derives from twelve observed time points collected at monthly intervals at the L4 Station during 2007. The composition is composed of seven choruses. Each chorus has the same chord progression of 12 measures each in which chords are derived from monthly measures of temperature and chlorophyll A concentrations. The first and last chorus melodies are environmental parameter data as in 'Blues for Elle'. The melody in each of the second through sixth chorus is generated from the relative abundances of one of the five most common microbial taxa: Rickettsiales, Rhodobacteriales, Flavobacteriales, Cyanobactera, and Pseudomondales. A different 'instrument' is used to represent each microbial taxon. Melodies for microbial taxa were generated as in 'Far and Wide'.

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Image: Cyanobacteria, probably genus Gloeotrichia, taken in darkfield. Credit Specious Reasons via Flickr Creative Commons (

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