Water bears at Burning Man

Thanks to GrrlScientist at the Guardian science blogs (her Sept. 7, 2011 posting), I’ve come across this video where science visits another festival (I highlighted the *Guerilla* Science visit to the Glastonbury Music Festival in my July 12, 2011 posting). Here they mention an extraordinary form of life called a water bear (or scientifically, Tardigrades), which can survive in a cryogenic state to be revived years later. The longest time attempted, according to the Burning Man Micro Zoo video I’ve included below, is ten years.

Here’s the video, which is from the 2010 Burning Man festival,

For anyone who’s not familiar with Burning Man, it is a big festival that takes place in the Nevada Black Rock Desert every year in the high heat month of August. I believe the festival itself is one week long. They create a temporary community where art and creativity are used in place of money. After the festival is over, all trace of the community disappears until the next year. Here’s more from the About page of the Burning Man website,

There are no rules about how one must behave or express oneself at this event (save the rules that serve to protect the health, safety, and experience of the community at large); rather, it is up to each participant to decide how they will contribute and what they will give to this community. The event takes place on an ancient lakebed, known as the playa. By the time the event is completed and the volunteers leave, sometimes nearly a month after the event has ended, there will be no trace of the city that was, for a short time, the most populous town in the entire county. Art is an unavoidable part of this experience, and in fact, is such a part of the experience that Larry Harvey, founder of the Burning Man project, gives a theme to each year, to encourage a common bond to help tie each individual’s contribution together in a meaningful way. Participants are encouraged to find a way to help make the theme come alive, whether it is through a large-scale art installation, a theme camp, gifts brought to be given to other individuals, costumes, or any other medium that one comes up with.

The reporter in the video is from the Exploratorium, a San Francisco-based museum of science, art, and human perception.

For anyone who’s interested in more information about water bears, you can visit the wiseGEEK website here.

*’Guerrilla’ corrected to ‘Guerilla’ on Sept. 13, 2016.

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