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What is Next Nature?

With our attempts to cultivate nature, humankind causes the rising of a next nature, which is wild and unpredictable as ever. Wild systems, genetic surprises, autonomous machinery and splendidly beautiful black flowers. Nature changes along with us.

Posts Tagged ‘Back to the Tribe’

  • Paleo fitness

    Work Out Like the Flintstones

    The exercise of the future? Paleolithic fitness! From hanging from a tree branch like Tarzan, throwing and catching cobblestones to barefoot climbing, working out like our ancestors is the latest American trend. The new/old caveman fitness craze is quickly surpassing other exercise programs in popularity.

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  • monk-seal_632_600x450

    Are Hawaiian Monk Seals Natural? Not According to Some Hawaiians

    Like pandas, Hawaiian monk seals are loved by many for their cute, cuddly appearance. And like pandas, the species is close to becoming extinct. With only 1,100 Hawaiian monk seals left in the world, scientists predict the seal is going to disappear in 50 to 100 years. Their extinction is only being accelerated by a spate of mysterious killings. According to a fascinating detective story over at the New York Times Magazine:

    “Many in Hawaii were convinced that the entire history of the monk seal is based on a lie. Because the species was eradicated in the mains so long ago, people have lived on Kauai their entire lives without seeing a single monk seal until recently. Traditional Hawaiian knowledge carries great authority on the islands, and in every cranny of the culture where you’d expect to see monk seals, people saw none [...] The logical explanation, for many, was that the seal wasn’t actually native to Hawaii, that the government had brought the animals, in secret, to create jobs for scientists and push its environmentalist agenda…”.

    Read more about seal murders the New York Times. Photo via National Geographic.

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  • SeriousGamers4

    Serious Gamers Assist Society

    Ever imagined that your gaming addiction might help cure cancer? A new generation of computer games have been introduced that deal with citizen science. Citizen science games like Phylo, Foldit and Galaxy Zoo are called serious games, since they carry a serious goal: Providing scientific knowledge through play. This can help with research in topics from life-threatening diseases to decoding ancient manuscripts.

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  • 530

    Free Electricity from the Technosphere

    Like the biosphere the technosphere is all around us. It contains TV, mobile phone, GPS, Wi-Fi and radio waves. Radio waves are omnipresent, can move through objects and yield a low amount of power. A research team from Georgia Tech School of Electrical and Computer Engineering made significant developments in harvesting this free energy from the technosphere.

    Using an ultra-wideband antenna they are able to harvest energy from a broad frequency range, stretching from FM radio to radar (100MHz to 15GHz). With the use of a standard ink-jet printer, equipped with nanoparticle ink, the ultra-wideband antenna can be produced at a very low cost.

    These antennas could provide a small but constant flow of electricity which could be used to power RFID tags, environmental monitors, medical sensors, calculators, clocks and other low power devices. Many of these devices are currently powered by batteries that eventually fade away or cannot survive temperature changes.

    Via Techweekeurope.

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  • Paul Miller, back online

    Exploring the Offline World, if It Still Exists

    Even though the world wide web has steadily penetrated each aspect of our life since its inception at CERN, it seems that today we still refer to digital technology as existing in a world other than our own. Instead we inhabit the seperate realms of ‘digital’ and ‘real’. Although we focus on bringing down the barriers between these worlds, it may be they’ve already totally merged, without us even noticing. Has the digital fabric of technology inextricably integrated with our lives, or might we still be able to live without it?

    Last year, Paul Miller, a tech blogger at The Verge, asked himself a similar question. He disconnected himself from the internet, kicking off a year of ‘offline’ existence. A year of unbridled potential, away from the ‘unnatural’  internet. Miller set to discover what the internet had done to him, by studying it from a distance. He would try to understand the ways in which internet was corrupting us, and enable us to fight back against its influence.

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  • Social_Roulette

    Roulette for Your Facebook Account

    Remember the Web 2.0 Suicide Machine? That was for those who where fed up with only speaking with their families online, liking their own holiday pictures and spending warm summer days compulsively checking status updates from better, cooler, more successful friends. It’s now three years on, and social media have become an even more inescapable part of our everyday routine. If you’re still in doubt about whether or not to end your Facebook life, there’s now the game of Social Roulette. According to co-founder Kyle McDonald:

    “Social Roulette has a 1 in 6 chance of deleting your account, and a 5 in 6 chance that it just posts “I played Social Roulette and survived” to your timeline. [...] Everyone thinks about deleting their account at some point, it’s a completely normal reaction to the overwhelming nature of digital culture. Is it time to consider a new development in your life? Are you looking for the opportunity to start fresh? Or are you just seeking cheap thrills at the expense of your social network? Maybe it’s time for you to play Social Roulette.”

    I’m waiting for the 21st century version of the Deer Hunter.

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  • happiness

    The Hedonometer Uses Social Media to Measure Global Happiness

    Are you using Twitter? Then you might be measured as part of the world’s happiness. A team of scientists from the University of Vermont and The MITRE Corporation have developed a tool to measure global happiness, the Hedonometer.

    The Hedonometer is based on people’s online expressions, capitalizing on data-rich social media, and measuring how people present themselves to the outside world. Right now, this research is updated every 24 hours, but eventually it will be updated every minute. Soon the Hedonometer will draw on other data streams, like Google Trends, the New York Times, blogs, and broadcast news. It’s already been used to measure the happiest and saddest American cities (Napa, California, and Beaumont, Texas, respectively) and will eventually provide real-time comparisons between cities’ moods. Additionally, the Hedonometer will help to determine if small-scale events, such as the recent Boston bombings, have an impact on the global psyche.

    The Hedonometer is just one more step to merging the technosphere with the biosphere. Check it out to see if the rest of the world is aligned with your feelings.

    Photo via Phys.org

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  • High Heels Julie Rrap

    Nature through the Windshield

    For more than eight years artist Koert van Mensvoort has been working on a project to redefine our concept of nature. Through his platform Next Nature he has published books, held talks, ran workshops, maintained an active blog, and even developed a hoax, all in effort to communicate that there is no absolute nature, but that technology and nature are deeply intertwined; a biosynthetic nature so to speak. Can the development of a Gillette razor be considered in Darwinian terms of evolution? Is the fake nature of an indoor ski slope any less legitimate than the Alps? By fundamentally shifting the way we conceive nature, he believes we will be better able to cope with the oncoming climatic and environmental challenges ahead.

    This interview is reprinted from Volume magazine #35: Everything Under Control.

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  • Image from Shutterstock

    Deliver us from Digital Bluntness

    The internet is a wonderful tool, with huge potential and is often used with positive results. But more recently it is becoming apparent how, as a tool, it dehumanises and makes people lose a grip on the reality of their actions and the implications of their voice.

    Take for example a social tool such as Twitter. It’s mission statement is simply ““To instantly connect people everywhere to what’s most important to them.” with 140 characters it does this quite well. But at the same time things can also go wrong. Being such an open platform it allows for anyone to read anything you write (assuming your settings aren’t set to private) and yes, that includes your boss!

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  • “Second Life” (2007); Phnom Penh, Cambodia

    Out of Network

    When we type “Flickr” or “Facebook” or “YouTube” into a browser, we seek to enter social networks and enjoy secure communication and interaction with a vast number of online users from around the world. Most of us take for granted that these words are understood by others in the same way. But what if rather than type these words on a keyboard we paint them on the walls of slums in Mali, Cambodia or Vietnam. Their meanings would certainly change.

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  • paris beehive

    High-Priced Honey from Parisian Rooftops

    Across Paris, bees and their keepers have been taking advantage of the city’s pesticide-free parks, gardens and flowerbeds to produce pricey honey. The otherwise unused rooftops of many Parisian landmarks are now home to hundreds of thousands of bees. The exclusivity of the real estate shows in the cost: The world’s most expensive honey – E 15 for 150 grams – comes from the roof of Palais Garnier, the city’s grand opera house.

    Image: A keeper fumigates the hives atop Saint-Denis. Story via Skyscraper City. Thanks to Wessel de Jong for the tip.  

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  • car_scratch_01_530

    Modern Cave Painting

    Primitive man lived in caves. He used the surface of these caves as a canvas (*) to make representations of the things that surrounded him: animals and hunting, stories of magic and ritual, which helped him to make sense of the world.

    Over the years, his cave has changed quite a bit: today, it comes on four wheels and in bright, shiny colors. In their turn, tribes of other cavemen use them as canvasses for their own art. An art which in itself has become more primitive and abstract, or minimal and conceptual if you want. It doesn’t nessecarily want to tell a story, or say something about the world outside the cave. Rather, it seems to refer to the cave itself. Instead of making representations of magic and rites, the creative act itself has become the ritual. Now drive me back to the tribe!

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  • 3dbone

    Swap Your Bones for an Improved, 3D-Printed Version

    3D printing technology is improving quickly. The applications of these revolutionary devices are obvious regarding medicine and body science. Scientists have already created 3D-printed ears. It may be that more complex organs are only a few years away.

    The medical applications are clear, but what if we thought about 3D organ printing in a more cosmetic way ? Nowadays, piercings and tattoos are not limited just to rebels, but are popular for many people. On the more extreme end, subdermal implants have appeared too, borrowing both from plastic surgery and from piercing. Changing your outside apparence is a common practice. But we could use 3D printing to change our inside appearance too.

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  • Facebook-democracy-in-Helsinki-2

    Tykkään or En tykkää? Digital Voting Takes to the Streets

    Last April, the city of Helsinki asked its citizens to give their opinion about the construction of a new and expensive branch of the Guggenheim museum. Brought to the streets, and set up as a real-life Facebook interface (with the addition of a powerful “Dislike” button, a nonexistent option in the social network), a big touchscreen allowed people to physically  “Like” or “Dislike” the proposal.

    The vote results did influence – but not determine –  the city’s final decision to not pursue the project. Maybe because the touchscreen system is still missing a way to identify individuals and avoid “likejacking” or multiple votes from the same passerby, or maybe due to the semantic implication of shifting from a yes/no polar question to a more emotional like/dislike reaction.

    This experimental street translation of a social network feature makes it easier to see that once we set aside technological interfaces, our ancient tribal dynamics are the very reason behind the existence and popularity of social networks. Now hit the button/leave a rock in the pile if you’d like to leave your opinion.

    Story and image via The Pop Up City

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  • 042_Partin-800x627

    3D-Printed Skin Cells as an Aesthetic Statement

    Here is a next natural form of body modification, a 3D printed tattoo. Maria, a 23 year old girl from the Netherlands, printed her skin with a design made from stem cells. For her, two diagonal lines mean rebellion and one horizontal line means peace. For Maria, these three ambivalent lines represent the state of utopia.

    During the London International Tattoo Convention, I interviewed Dr. De Jong who performed the operation. He was a tattoo artist until his 30s and has been trying to find a new form of self expression. He confidently said “Tattoo is a very ancient form of fashion and we need to use a new means to express ourselves. I am sure this 3D printed tattoo will soon be fashionable in Amsterdam and Tokyo and will spread across the world”.

    This story is actually a fiction; the photo is from Ted Partin’s book Eyes Look Through You. But perhaps it is not entirely a fiction, but a fictional reality. Think about Stelarc’s Ear on Arm, or 3D printing technology branching out to bone, organs and skin. People already do astonishing things with their bodies. Why not 3D-printed modifications?

    YouTube Preview Image

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  • cheetos engineered to be addicting

    How Food Scientists Engineer the “Bliss Point” in Junk Food

    Over at the New York Times, a recent article exposes the clever and surprisingly immoral ways the food industry manufactures foods to rival hard drugs for their addictive potential. Well worth the read, the article discusses “designer sodium”, the genesis of the ideal kid’s lunch, and the search for the morphine-like “bliss point” in soda. One scientist’s description of Cheetos, in particular, highlighted the extraordinary detail that goes into what we see as a normal, familiar food:

    “This,” Witherly said, “is one of the most marvelously constructed foods on the planet, in terms of pure pleasure.” He ticked off a dozen attributes of the Cheetos that make the brain say more. But the one he focused on most was the puff’s uncanny ability to melt in the mouth. “It’s called vanishing caloric density,” Witherly said. “If something melts down quickly, your brain thinks that there’s no calories in it . . . you can just keep eating it forever.”

    Nearly all widely available foods, from Cutie clementines to the dozens of Pringles flavors, have been exquisitely manufactured to appeal to our primal need for salt, fat and sugar, and for our just-as-ancient yearning to get the most calories for the least amount of labor. We’re all hungry and lazy. Anyone looking to introduce new and untested food – in-vitro meat, for instance – would do well to remember that food science has already perfected the art of hooking consumers on whatever they care to feed us.

    Photo via Flickr user Bunches and Bits.

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  • facebook_avant_la_lettre

    Cavemen Used ‘Facebook’ Already

    Scientists claim to have discovered a “prehistoric version of Facebook” used by ancient tribes to communicate with each other. After analyzing over 3000 rock art images in Sweden and Russia, Mark Sapwell and his team from Cambridge University concluded that the sites functioned like an “archaic related stories version” of social networks where users shared thoughts and emotions and gave stamps of approval to other contributions – very similar to today’s Facebook like.

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  • dezeen_Forget-Me-Knot-by-Sruli-Recht_1

    Forget Me Knot

    We all know BioJewellery; two wedding rings grown from bone tissue collected from two lovers. This intimate ring allows you to physically wear your partner around your finger.

    Although these rings are very intimate and symbolic they are made of a material (bone) which is quite abstract. Bone is hopefully not something you usually touch and see from your partner.

    Sruli Recht, an Icelandic fashion designer, has solved this problem. He created a ring with a slice of his own skin. A piece of rectangular skin is surgically removed from his belly. The skin is then tanned, salted and mounted on a 24 carat gold ring. Sruli also made a short documentary about this process, but beware this contains graphic scenes of the operation.

    Although it might give you slight rushes of anthropomorphobia, with this ring you wear a piece of your partner which actually feels like him or her.

    Via Dezeen.com

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