This Artist Creates Lamps Powered by Bioluminescent Squid

In case you weren’t worried enough about your own biological mediocrity, a new study says that three out of every four ocean creatures is bioluminescent. In other words, a whopping 75 percent of animals that live in the ocean (and there are a lot of them) are physically capable of producing their own light through bioluminescent bacteria. That’s amazing.

So if you, like us, are feeling a little jealous about the genetic grab bag that life handed you and want some more self-producing light in your life, we’ve got you covered. Meet Sandra Rey, a 26-year-old designer who’s bringing the deep ocean to streets near you.

She’s responsible for a startup called Glowee, which creates lights that glow entirely from genetically modified bioluminescent bacteria, Wired UK reports.

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So how does this magic happen?

It starts with the Hawaiian bobtail squid, one of nature’s cutest creations.

Hawaiian bobtail squid: Glowee inspiration
Photo Credit: Flickr, Macroscopic Solutions


(You’re welcome.)


Glowee takes genes for bioluminescence that naturally occur in the bobtail squid and modifies them to glow even brighter, plugging them into E. coli.

Photo Credit: Glowee


By squirting some of this tweaked E. coli in the bulb of a lamp, Rey fashioned the first Glowee lamp.

Sandra Rey (Photo Credit: Nick Wilson/Glowee)


So far, it comes in three forms: a liquid, a gel, and something that Wired UK calls “a version that contains proteins.” We’re unsure what that means, but it sounds like it packs a powerful punch.

Photo Credit: Glowee


The only problem? Bacteria grow exponentially, so the team at Glowee is still figuring out the kinks of creating a light that can last a little longer than three days.

Photo Credit: Glowee

(The current time it takes for the E. Coli to eat all the nutrients available in the shell.) But after that, the sea’s the limit.

For a more in-depth explanation of Glowee’s technology and how it was developed, watch Rey’s TED Talk about Glowee and the power it has to shine without pollution.

Pollution-free lights, powered by microbes | Sandra Rey | TED Institute

Designer Sandra Rey has found a way to channel one of nature’s superpowers: bioluminescence. By isolating the DNA that causes some squids to glow, and introducing it into bacteria, she’s created a light source that can glow for three days — without generating the usual pollution.

H/t: Wired UK