Hide this

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 ‘Designed-by-Evolution’

  • Picture 4

    Essay: The Sound of the Blue Canary

    Blue is a beautiful color, but its sound is simply irresistible. It is the song of the unhappy and the depressed. It is a sound that touches people. It was also the sound of a little songbird, the Serinus Canaria Domestica, a sound that so moved me, I was led on a voyage of discovery into the world of birdsong. The Serinus Canaria Domestica is the man-made descendant of the Wild Canary, a finch originally from the Canary Islands, which nowadays exists in many different breeds. This essay deals with the cultivation of the song-bred canary and imagines how its story might lend inspiration to the sound design of electric cars.

    Read more »

    on Comments Off
  • yellow sac spider

    Cheiracanthium drives a Mazda

    In March, Mazda recalled 65,000 cars, not because of any structural faults in the vehicle, but because the engineers had inadvertently created the perfect habitat for a tiny spider.  The yellow sac spider, capable of inflicting a painful bite, was inexorably drawn to build webs in the car’s evaporative canister vent line. The spider’s nest could restrict the line, raising pressure in the fuel tank and eventually leading to a crack.  It may be that the species is attracted to the smell of hydrogen oxide in gasoline, or it could just be that the little arachnids think Americans need to do a better job of carpooling.

    Arthropods have a distinguished history of gumming up our most precise pieces of technology. The first computer bug was a brown moth that got stuck in Harvard’s Relay Calculator in 1947.  I remember battling the ants that took up residence in my laptop in the Philippines, and a quick Google search shows that computer-nerd ants are a common complaint. Technology may be designed for humans, but it’s used by the entire ecosystem.

    Via The Consumerist.  Image via UW Madison Department of Etymology.

  • oscar

    Humane Technology #5: Empower People

    Principle number five: Humane technology doesn’t outsource people, but instead empowers them.

    How healthy or humane is it to have an escalator to the gym?  Humane technology should not aim to replace the human mind and body.  Rather, it should be used as a tool to augment existing capabilities.  The Cheetah Flex-Foot, a prosthetic foot and lower leg, integrates with a user’s existing knee and upper leg to enable comfortable walking and running.  Users are at least as fast as those with flesh-and-blood feet, and may even be faster thanks to the mechanical efficiencies of springy metal.  The initial design was closely modeled on the human foot, but evolved into a sleeker blade-like shape that’s more cheetah than person.  The Flex-Foot is therefore not an exact replacement for the human form, but a way to radically re-imagine it.

    on Comments Off
  • vibram five fingers

    Humane Technology #2: Revive Human Intuitions

    Our second principle: Humane technology revives human intuitions, in particular those we might have forgotten about.

    ‘Conventional’ technology aims to overcome our hominid instincts, bodies, and physiological process, but humane tech augments them. Humane tech might help us to recall intuitions such as food-gathering, social bonding, even natural movement.  For instance, air-conditioning uses huge amounts of energy to cool a room, but fans, clever ventilation and our sweat glands may keep us just as comfortable.

    Our feet are useful products of millions of years of evolution, but we deaden them in thick-soled shoes. Recent research indicates that barefoot runners have a softer, smoother gait than those who run shod, and may suffer fewer injuries. New shoe designs recognize that ‘barefoot is best,’ while trying to protect the foot from more recent human inventions: broken glass and slippery floors. Humane technology will help to return us to a more natural, physically attuned way of living. According to Marshall McLuhan, it’s back to the tribe for us.

  • jetsons pill

    Humane Technology #1: Feels Natural

    All too often, technology frustrates us. It forces our behavior into constrained pathways. Even more insidious, technology can knock us out of alignment with our values, goals or health. While conventional tech creates new problems even as it solves old ones, ‘humane technology’ has the opposite effect. It is a partner, not a passive tool. It works with our bodies and instincts, not against them. This post is the first in a series that attempts to make a field guide or mini-manifesto for humane technology.  To kick it off, here’s the first principle of the six: Humane technology should feel natural, rather than estranging.

    Medicine can be hard to swallow, and vaccine needles makes even the bravest patients squirm. Is there a friendlier way to what’s good for us? Humane technology recognizes that humans are not one-size-fits-all. What works like a charm for you might feel like a curse to me. Humane technology should strive to replicate the walking leaf: so well adapted to the local conditions that you might not even notice, or mind, that it’s there. Just don’t be surprised if your doctor prescribes medical-grade sushi made from GM fish, or uses a painless needle based on a mosquito’s proboscis. The technology behind our advances might be mind-boggling, but the results should feel as natural as our own skin.

    on Comments Off
  • Nintendo DS used for sexy fun

    Nintendo Portables Are Breeding Grounds For Sexy Fun

    Sexuality and sensuality are phenomena which have been a nature for us as long as we humans exist. Not only humans experience these phenomena; also animals experience sexuality and, more or less, sensuality.

    One of the things which make humans distinct from other animals when it comes to sex, is that humans make use of artificial artifacts to stimulate sexual feelings. Have you ever seen a lion which needed a vibrator to make things better?

    Read more »

  • urbanbirds_drinks_milk

    Urban Birds have Bigger Brains

    Researchers learned that city birds have larger brains relative to their body size. No, they are not getting big-headed from their exposure to big-city sophistication, but rather need larger brains to survive in the more challenging urban environments.

    The biologists from institutions in Sweden and Spain studied 82 species of birds from 22 families, focusing on 12 cities in France and Switzerland. Their findings are published in the journal Biology Letters.

    Read more »

    on Comments Off
  • YouTube Preview Image

    Nature will Remember

    In this commercial, the sheep knows that the Peugeot has been made dirty by the splashing mud. Then it proceeds by cleaning it. Slogan: Nature will remember.

    We know that this commercial is fiction, but is old nature even aware of our next nature? (By aware I mean that it knows it’s there and that it reacts on it)

    I think the answer is yes. Just take a look at the species that have coexisted with us, like mice, cockroaches, crows, pigeons and certain plants. Some people often think of them as pests, as those annoying creatures that just won’t go away no matter how hard we try to get rid of them. But if you take a closer look, it becomes clear that these species are actually very successful at surviving in man-made urban environments: Old nature adapts itself to our next nature!

    on Comments Off
  • bjorklove_530_system_animals

    System Animals

    What animal is so naive to come into this world as a naked and crying infant, completely vulnerable, helpless, and an easy prey for any predator? Newborn lamb or giraffe’s babies can walk within a few hours, but it takes humans years and years to learn to take care of themselves. Yet, despite our physical vulnerability, we’ve proven not only able to survive, but even to dominate the planet. How come?

    Unlike other animals, which have specific organs, skills and reflexes that enable them to survive in their proper environment, humans have never been placed in an environment for which we are specifically equipped. The human physique implies that there is no such thing as a ‘purely’ natural environment for us. We are system animals: technological beings by nature.

    Read more »

  • robotic-fish

    Robots Love Animals Too

    Someday robots may lead fish to safety.  At least, that’s the hope of Dr. Maurizio Porfiri, an Assistant Professor at the Polytechnic Institute of New York University and expert on the dynamics of schooling fish.  His knowledge has lead him to develop robotic leaders for groups of fish.  To our eyes they look distinctly un-fishy, but in the water, they are surprisingly lifelike swimmers.  It’s their action, not their appearance, that convinces living fish to accept the robots as one of their own.  Porfiri hopes that his biomimetic robots may one day lead fish away from environmental hazards such as oil spills or underwater turbines.  Robots have long borrowed from nature- Maybe it’s time they return the favor.

    on Comments Off
  • Plastic_Planet_530

    Essay: Plastic Planet

    We tend to think of plastic as a cheap, inferior and ugly material used to make children’s toys, garden furniture and throwaway bottles. But as an experiment, imagine for a moment a world in which plastic was extremely rare, like gold or platinum, and plastic objects were devastatingly expensive to produce. One would encounter plastic objects only at special occasions; one would see and touch very few plastic objects throughout one’s lifetime. I know it’s a challenge, but try to imagine, for the sake of our experiment, that plastic was scarce, available only to the happy few, and the masses lived in a world of wood, pottery and metals. Ready?

    By KOERT VAN MENSVOORT

    Now look around you and grab the first plastic object in your surroundings. Look at the object. Study the object. It doesn’t matter whether it is a coffee cup, a cigarette lighter, a pen or a plastic bag. This is a special moment. You are now holding one of the few, delicate pieces of plastic you will ever get to touch. Feel how durable it is. Feel how light it is considering its volume. Feel how strong and rigid it is, or how very flexible. Get a sense of how easy it must have been to mold. Understand that it could be molded into something else again. If plastic weren’t such an omnipresent material, we would realize that it is beautiful. We would realize what a disgrace it is that we throw away so much of it.

    Read more »

  • 270112bqdba

    We Domesticated Ourselves

    Our bodies are maps of our ancestor’s social lives.  We evolved, physically and behaviorally, in incredibly complex social groups.  Such intense sociability may have favored the very traits we favor in cows, horses, dogs and cats.  We may have domesticated each other.

    Read more »

  • YouTube Preview Image

    Did Nature Cease to Exist in the ’60s?

    Our historical snippet of the moment is a Canadian television fragment from 1968 featuring a debate between Norman Mailer and Marshall McLuhan on the implications of media technology and whether nature still existed.

    The two heroes of the ’60s are absolute opposites. Leaning forward in his chair, Mailer is assertive, animated, hot, engaged. McLuhan, abstracted and smiling wanly, leaning backward, cool. Mcluhan argues “The planet is no longer nature,” he declares, to Mailer’s uncomprehending stare; “it’s now the content of an art work.” Mailer: “Well, I think you are anticipating a century, perhaps”.

    Did Nature cease to exist in the ’60s? Of course not. It just changes along with us.

    Via Roughtype.com. Thanks Monique.

  • YouTube Preview Image

    The Soul is a Plastic Bag

    In the film Plastic Bag, the title character spends a lifetime (or more) on a quest for a creator not even aware of his existence.  A stunning short by Ramin Bahrani, director of Man Push Cart and Goodbye Solo, Plastic Bag is both a postmodern spiritual pilgrimage and an ecological fable.   It is strange, wry, and by the end it had my eyes welling up like the Deepwater Horizon.

    Plastic Bag makes a fitting companion to Grizzly Man, and not just because the ponderous tones of Werner Herzog give voice to the Bag’s 18-minute monologue. Like Timothy Treadwell, the Bag is an artifact of human civilization searching an impassive world for a sublime, and entirely fictional, true connection.

    Read more »

    on Comments Off
  • The Institute for Digital Biology

    The Institute for Digital Biology

    The Institute for Digital Biology researches next steps in the evolution of the internet, where websites and services develop into living creatures.”
    This scenario lives in the mind of Walewijn den Boer, graduated from KABK in 2010.

    During the exhibition, visitors were able to feed a colony of microscopical pop-up creatures, save Chinese websites from a pageview-shortage, preserve an Amazone tribe from extinction by subscribing to its homepage and view a short documentary on how the living internet established itself.

    Read more »

    on Comments Off
  • YouTube Preview Image

    Amber Case: We are all Cyborgs Now

    Technology is evolving us, says cyborg anthropologist Amber Case in her 8 minutes of TED. We become a screen-staring, button-clicking new version of homo sapiens, relying on “external brains” (cell phones and computers) to communicate, remember, even live out secondary lives. But will these machines ultimately connect or conquer us? Buckle up for some surprising insight into our cyborg selves.

  • silvertweet

    Urban Birds

    It’s been known for a while that birds increase their singing volume to make themselves heard in the big city, but recent studies show that the city birds might even be evolving into a new species.

    “Silvereyes are common native Australian songbirds found in both town and country. “Their natural sounds would be masked by urban noise,” says Potvin. Such noise, generated mostly by road and air traffic, is at pitches between 1 and 4 kilohertz – bad news for silvereyes, which sing in the 2 to 6-kilohertz range.”

    The results of the study showed that City Birds sing in a much higher pitch (about 195Hz higher) and in a slower manner. The higher pitch makes the songs possible to recognize from all the city noise, while the slow singing could be to counter the sound-reflecting effect of the buildings, as longer pauses between their ‘syllables’ make them easier to understand.

    I just wonder when they change their color to match a certain other Urban Bird.

    Source: NewScientist

    on 1 Comment »
  • questforfire_530

    Next Nature Movie #1: Quest for Fire

    The Quest for Fire (1981) shows the Next Nature of 80.000 BC. Set in a world without highways, supermarkets, airports, Internet, television, farming, money or written language, the film depicts a group of Neanderthalers who are able to control fire, but cannot create it. Similar to our habit of carrying a mobile phone, these Neanderthalers consequentially wonder around with a mobile fire.

    When one day their fire is tragically smothered, the three bravest men leave the tribe and set out in a quest for fire. Throughout their journey they meet with various other humanoid species, of which the most outlandish is undoubtedly the Homo Sapiens, who impress not by their size or posture but even more by their ability to domesticate their surroundings through the use of tools and technique.

    While the Neanderthaler men are accustomed to a life in caves, the geeky Homo Sapiens amazes them with technological gadgets like pottery, an artificial cave created from animal skins, advanced weaponry and, most of all, their astonishing ability to create fire – which in its time was at least equally if not more impressive than any nano-, bio-, or digital technology of today.

    The Quest of Fire is a honest attempt to look at the origins of the species and the development of humanity through loss, tragedy, hardship, hostile elements and the beginnings of laughter, morality, community service, leadership, friendship and of course, love. A wondrous feat of body language performances as there is no truly discernible spoken dialogue.

    The film can be thought of as the first five minutes of Space Odyssey 2001 (1968) stretched up to a feature film length. Director Jean-Jacques Annaud manages to capture the essence of the human condition as ‘natural born cultural beings’. Which deepens our understanding of the ever-changing relation nature and makes us see some of the contemporary technological ‘upgrades’ in a different light.

    YouTube Preview Image

    Passed: 2001: a Space Odyssey (1968), The Gods must be Crazy (1980), Surplus – Terrorized into Being Consumers (2003).

    on Comments Off