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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 ‘Designed-by-Evolution’

  • venus_5

    Growing a Crystal Chair

    Japanese artist Tokujin Yoshioka does not sculpt his work, but grows it. His Venus chair was created by immersing a plastic mesh substrate into a tank filled with a chemical solution. Gradually crystals precipitate onto the substrate and give structure to the chair. It might not be the most comfortable place to take a seat, but it’s a great example of guided growth. Yoshioka has experimented with various other crystalline structures ranging from Greek sculptures to entire rooms. Maybe a scale replica of the Fortress of Solitude isn’t too far off.

    More images after the jump.

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  • Coco_Cody_labradoodle_530

    Labradoodle

    Indulge in its cuteness. The Labradoodle brings us the finest blend between the labrador and the poodle. Combining sociability with beauty, they are the perfect human companion. The labradoodle is a manufactured animal. Moreover, its apparent artificiality conceals the fact that Labradors and Poodles are manufactured no less. The dogs distant past as wild gray wolves is an echo long gone.

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    Birdfeeders spit Blackcaps in two species

    Until now, most people have likely regarded bird-feeders as merely a pleasant addition to their gardens. But scientists have now discovered that bird-feeders in the UK are actually having a serious long term impact on bird life – they’ve found that the feeders have brought about the first evolutionary step in the creation of a brand new species.

    Historically, European Blackcap birds migrate to Spain to spend their winters, where they feed on fruit and berries. While in the past the part of the population that accidentally flew to the UK had a hard time surviving, since the rise of bird–feeders in the UK things changed.

    The food supplied by animal-loving Brits, along with the luxury of not flying over the Alps, have made Britain an increasingly popular holiday destination for wintering blackcaps. And that has set them down the path towards becoming two separate species, Gregor Rolshausen from the University of Freiborg and colleagues write in the journal Current Biology.

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    Tomberry – The Worlds Smallest Tomato

    Some people like berries, some like tomato’s. So what do you get when you get when the two mate? Indeed, the latest hyperfruit spotted on the selves is the Tomberry. This unusually small cultivar of tomatoes, which weight only 1-2 grams and are less than a centimeter in size, is produced by the Dutch company Eminent Food BV and distributed throughout Europe. Unsurprisingly the name Tomberry has been trademarked.

  • The Technological Sublime

    The sublime is an aesthetic concept of ‘the exalted,’ of beauty that is grand and dangerous. Through 17th and 18th century European intellectual tradition, the sublime became intimately associated with nature. Only in the 20th century, did the technological sublime replace the natural sublime. Have our sense of awe and terror been transferred to factories, war machines, and the unknowable, infinite possibilities suggested by computers and genetic engineering?

    By JOS DE MUL

    When we call a landscape or a piece of art ‘sublime,’ we express the fact that it evokes particular beauty or excellence. Note that the ‘sublime’ is not only an aesthetic characterization; a moral action of high standing or an unparalleled goal in a soccer game may also be called ‘sublime.’ Roughly speaking, the sublime is something that exceeds the ordinary. This aspect of its meaning is expressed aptly in the German word for the sublime: the ‘exalted’ (das Erhabene). In the latter term we also hear echoes of the religious connotation of the concept. The sublime confronts us with that which exceeds our very understanding.

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  • We-create-the-cosmos530

    An Ecstatic Dialogue with Richard Doyle

    When techno–optimist and fellow at the Hybrid Reality Institute, Jason Silva, meets with Richard Doyle, author of Darwin’s Pharmacy: Sex, Plants and the Evolution of the Noosphere, we must buckle up for an Ecstatic Dialogue on language, reality, ancient Internets and how psychedelics make us human.

    JASONSILVA: Your new book Darwin’s Pharmacy talks about the relationship between psychedelic plants and the accelerating evolution of the “noosphere”, which some define as the knowledge substrate of reality, the invisible, informational dimension of collective intelligence and human knowledge. Is this more or less accurate?

    RICHDOYLE: The book features a set of nested claims about the evolution of mind, psychedelics (or, as I  prefer and propose, “ecodelics”),  and the evolution of the noosphere, but all of the claims can be understood via two claims:

    (1) Ecodelics have been an integral part of the human toolkit, so suppressing them is like suppressing music, jokes or other aspects of our humanity. (Here I am following Samorini, Siegel, and others)

    and

    (2) As integral parts of the human toolkit, ecodelics are best modeled as part of sexual selection – the competition for mates and the leaving of progeny. A careful look at Charles Darwin’s writings on sexual selection will show that sexual selection works through the management of attention – what we would now call “information technologies.” Think birdsong, bioluminescence ( the most widespread communication technology on the planet), poetry.  The peacock is managing and focusing peahen attention with his feathers, so what we have called “mind” has been involved in evolution for a very long time. Mandrilles eat iboga before competing for mates.

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  • An Entoform

    Entoforms

    Artist Dolf Veenvliet (Macouno) is creating future fossil trilobites that have yet to exist. Using generative computer models, his Entoforms are not the result of millions of years of evolving biological DNA. Instead, the system uses plain text as an input for generating the creatures, creating a wide variety that rivals the diversity we see in Old Nature’s fossile records.

    In the video below, Dolf talks about his project and invites us to join him in exploring this new world of creatures that are born through modern 3D printing manufacturing technologies.

    YouTube Preview Image

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  • gowanus canal toxic mud

    Evolutionary Janitors

    We normally think of polluted water as the source of disease, not the cure for it. The Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn, affectionately known as the Super Fun Superfund, is one of the most polluted bodies of water in America. Most of the water is too low in oxygen to support plant or animal life. Worse still is the toxic mud at the bottom of the canal, rich in lead, dioxins, and mercury from decades of unchecked dumping from heavy industry.

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    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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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?

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  • 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.

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  • 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!

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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