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Smallpox-Vaccine Wallpaper is a Real Conversation Starter

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Here's a place we didn't expect the vaccine debate to take us: Bill and Melinda Gates recently launched a project called "The Art of Saving a Life," inviting over 30 world-renown artists to demonstrate how "vaccines continue to positively change the course of history." One of these commissioned works, Brazilian artist Vik Muniz's "Flowers," looks like it could make some fancy floral wallpaper. When zoomed-in, however, the print reveals itself to be an intricate composition of tiny liver cells that have been infected with a smallpox vaccine virus.

Collaborating with bioengineer Tal Danino, Muniz used microfabrication techniques and a high-resolution microscope to create the initial image. As Wired explains, this involved depositing a layer of patterned collagen in a petri dish and then adding cells that thrive on the collagen and die on the plastic. The resulting "print" is then photographed, digitally colored, and enlarged into wall-sized art. "People are quite surprised to realize that the images are made up of real cancer/liver cells and real viruses," Danino tells Wired. It'd certainly get your houseguests talking, no?

· A Beautiful Wallpaper Made With Smallpox Vaccine [Wired]
· I Spy: Awkward Historic Nursery-Rhyme Wallpaper Edition [Curbed National]