Can the word petri dish be used as a metaphor in a non-scientific context?
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Petri dish is used metaphorically quite often. Here are a few examples from a quick search of recent article titles:
Of course petri dish can be used as a metaphor. I think what you meant to ask was Is petri dish used as a metaphor in non-scientific contexts? And the answer is: yes.
Here's an example from The Economist, April 2011:
I.e. a petri dish is a place where (or upon which) experiments are conducted.