Colors & Germs

By Atom Bergstrom

Atom’s Blog

Germs can manufacture color or remove it.


According to  “Color-Eating Germs Blamed for Fading Hues” (Popular Mechanics, Oct. 1928) …

“Why colors fade, even though they may pass the usual light, damp and acid tests, has been solved by the analyzing microscope. The answer is a color-eating germ that thrives on the pigment in the paint, dye, ink or stain used. When it begins work on printed matter, the color gradually disappears, leaving first a yellow tint and then successive darker stages until all the pigment has been eaten away. Placing an infected sample under the microscope and adding a drop of water, the glass shows millions of spindle-shaped bacilli swimming about. Poster work for outside display is immune from destruction, as the sun quickly kills all germ life. Printed matter and colored fabrics should not be stored in damp, dark places.”


Christina Ayele Djossa (“In the Future, We May Paint With Brightly Colored Bacteria,” Atlas Obscura, Feb. 20, 2018) wrote …

“Now that researchers understand the genetic code behind natural colors, they can create the bacterial equivalent of the Photoshop color eye-dropper tool and grow the vivid colors that are present in peacock feathers within 24 hours.

“The researchers have a broader end game for their breakthrough findings. As Silvia Vignolini from the Cambridge’s Department of Chemistry concluded in the press release, ‘the future is open for biodegradable paints on our cars and walls—simply by growing exactly the colour and appearance we want!'”


According to Professor Vignolini …

“The most brilliant colours in nature are obtained by structuring transparent materials on the scale of the wavelength of visible light. By designing the dimensions of such nanostructures, it is possible to achieve extremely intense colourations over the entire visible spectrum without using pigments or colourants.”


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