Getting dirty and smelly, all in the name of science!
Today, we did the Volta experiment, where we went to a swamp teeming with microbes producing the flammable gas, methane. The rest is for us to marvel. @MBLScience #methanogens #archaea #MD2018 #microbialdiversity2018 pic.twitter.com/qs24XDFrVe
— Adi Gajigan (@adi_gajigan) July 11, 2018
If you saw flames licking from a Woods Hole swamp last night, no cause for alarm! It was just a signal that the MBL’s Microbial Diversity course is back in session. Since 1975, students in the course have gotten to know each other at this muddy ritual, where they wade in and prove to themselves that microbes degrading the swamp muck release methane, a flammable gas. This course “mixer” is named after Alessandro Volta, the Italian physicist who invented the battery in 1800. Volta also published the first paper on methane, which he collected by stirring the bottom sediment of a lake and bottling the gas that bubbled up. Swamp methanogens are just one of the myriad microbes that the students will get to know over the intensive six-week course. Onward!