About the bacteriophage...

This is not a science fiction image but an artist's (Marcus Satellite) rendering of a real life-form that actually does look like this under the electron microscope. It's a bacteriophage (a virus that attacks bacterial cells).

The virus attaches itself to a bacterial cell with its legs and injects its DNA (which you can see all coiled up in its head right now) into the cell through the spike on the end. This is a lysogenic virus, so the next time the cell's circular DNA splits for replication, the viral DNA gets inserted into the bacterial DNA. In this way, the bacterium can acquire some of the characteristics of the virus (such as knowing how to synthesize a new kind of protein). Later, the virus may enter a different phase where it will start replicating itself inside the cell until the cell splits, releasing lots of copies of the virus. Sometimes, the copies have dragged along bits of the cell's DNA with them. When these copies infect different kinds of cells, they spread some of the characteristics of the first cell to the other cells.

Why a bacteriophage? Because the interpolation of viral DNA into bacterial DNA and the splicing of one kind of bacterial DNA into an entirely different kind of bacterium is the perfect analogy for the kind of cross-synthesis and hybridization of sounds that you can do in Kyma. (It is also an analogy for the way ideas and information can spread around the world modifying and being modified by every mind they pass through).

For more information on bacteriophages (including some electronmicrographs and some X-rated animations of the DNA injection) , visit http://www.phage.org/beg_phage_images.htm.

Lots of people have been asking us about frameable, mousable, and wearable versions of this image, so if you are one of those who has an interest in acquiring your very own bacteriophage-related accessories, look here.