the previous weekend a good friend of mine who is crazy about museums & exhibitions visited Amsterdam (yes, the same guy that suggested to visit the Atomium in Brussels) and had the idea to visit Micropia, the world’s first Museum of Microbes! On Sunday, the weather was so good to stay at home, and we thought:”It’s warm, it’s hot, instead of going to the park with beers, let’s go watch some Microbes!”.
We entered Micropia, located inside Amsterdam Artis (the right building before Artis’ entrance). The visit started with a 30 seconds tour inside a slowly-ascending-to-the-first-floor elevator, while a voice inside the elevator was informing us about Micropia & its content (i didn’t get anything, i don’t know dutch).
After escaping the elevator’s voice, we just arrived in the museum’s first floor, which is the exhibition’s “serious” floor. One of the main subjects of the floor, is that particular group of tiny plants, the Algae, which live in the water, fresh or salty.
They are basically plants, they photosynthesize & produce oxygen, allowing them to produce oxygen that can be used by fishes in order to breath underwater. Some algae species can also swim, thus, algae is something between plant & animal, that consists of the favorite meal of some fishes & crustaceans (like shrimps & crabs for example). Damn, i captured them in a very nice pose through the microscope, check them out!
These guys are actually doing something useful, providing oxygen & free meals for the fishes, nevertheless the human factor & the waste that is dropped at the sea has terrible impact to their increase of population & growth. Have you ever been to the beach where the water is green & it is prohibited to swim? Well, its due to these guys explosive growth.. When usually are eaten by the fishes, in water where their is way too much waste, the algae population is way too high, resulting in blinding the fishes that at some point are unable to see their prey (not all fishes it algae, usually the ones in the bottom of the pyramid) & die from starvation. The same happens to the fishes that belong in the upper level of the pyramid and so on….
is a particular type of microalgae, that is one of the most important producers of oxygen in the planet.
Well, these guys have developed a way to protect theirselves from their enemies by building a glass indestructible ‘house’ around their cell that is made of silicon.
Of course, fungi could not be absent from this lineup of peculiar micro-organisms. These guys carry spores that ensure reproduction that could be spread through the air using the wind to germinate elsewhere. The places that lots of fungi gather together and break loose in an unending party are called mushrooms!
Another interesting place to live in is the lichen, host of companies of fungi & algae that are living together inside it, in a symbiotic relationship. Both organisms benefit from each other, the algae are protected between the cells of the fungus & the fungus eats the food that the algae produce. Bonus info: lichens grow very slow, in average one centimeter per year.
The visit of Micropia’s first floor was completed after checking out a wall decorated with organisms inside small plates made of glass that can be found in ordinary household items, such as TV controls, cell phones, your kids’ dolls & toys, pins, toothbrush, the air that can be collected in a room inside the house etc.
After our visit in the first floor, we spent some time in the first floor were we were informed about ordinary & catastrophic viruses that punish the human kind for ages…And basically, this is it about Micropia! I hope you enjoyed the sightseeing tour & the company of these little fellows that live everywhere, even inside us (1.5 kg of bacteria inside our digestive system ?!).
I totally recommend Micropia, a quite special kind of zoo to pay (14€) a visit.