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Mozart Microbes

June 10, 2010

The venerable television show, Monty Python's Flying Circus, ran for 45 episodes from 1969 to 1974. A recurrent catchphrase on that show was, "And now, for something completely different..." [1] That phrase popped into my head when I read about the following "research" project conducted at a German sewage treatment plant.

This sewage treatment plant is located in Treuenbrietzen, a city of about about 8,000 people a hundred kilometers southwest of Berlin. After hearing a report from Austria that the music of Mozart enhanced the efficiency of sewage-eating bacteria, the Treuenbrietzen workers decided to test this themselves [2,3]. The process [4] was developed by Mundus GmbH, a German company located in Wiesenburg, Germany.

Staphylococcus Aureus

Staphylococcus Aureus


According to Mundus, the acoustic waves from Mozart's music help in breaking down biosolids, thereby increasing bacterial efficiency and decreasing production of sludge. The sound system is rented at about $500 per month, but the anticipated savings are about $1,200 per month. In any case, it's a way for the workers to enjoy music on the job. In my youth I worked as an apprentice carpenter, and we always had a radio playing at our job sites.

Since I've mentioned Monty Python, I must direct you to one of their most famous bits, the Lumberjack song [5].

References:

  1. "And now, for something completely different..."
  2. Symphonic Sewage: Waste-Treatment Plant Plays Mozart to Microbes (Der Spiegel International, June 1, 2010).
  3. Brian Merchant, "Mozart Makes Microbes Eat Sewage Faster," Treehugger.com (June 1, 2010).
  4. Mundus GmbH, "Mozart für Mikroben" (PDF File).
  5. Monty Python's Lumberjack Song; German Version; captions follow the English version, but they are not an accurate German translation.

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