Join us in spotting Next Nature phenomena using our iphone spotter. The best spots win a Next Nature book.
Join us in spotting Next Nature phenomena using our iphone spotter. The best spots win a Next Nature book.
In some parts of Australia it is no exception to hear voices when there are no people near. The voices are the chatter of wild cockatoos that where taught words and sentences from escaped domesticated cockatoos.
Increasingly, inhabitants of the New South Wales province report birds that shout ‘Hello there!’, ‘Hello Darling’ and ‘What’s Happening’ from the trees. Some people thought they were going mad after watching a flock of birds in their garden while the animals shouted things like: “Who’s a pretty boy then?”
According to Australian Museum’s naturalist Martyn Robinson, the language is picked up from pet birds that escaped their cages and joined wild flocks. “These birds are very smart birds and very social and communication and contact is important between them”
“The pet bird begins to say things it’s been taught by its owner and the rest of the flock learns and starts speaking too, to mimic the pet bird,” Mr Robinson said. “I just hope a pet that’s been taught dirty words doesn’t join a flock.” Indeed that would unsettle our suburban backyards.
Canada-based Okanagan Specialty Fruits is pitching a genetically engineered apple that does not turn brown when bruised or exposed to air. This new technology, available in both Granny Smiths and Golden Delicious, introduces a synthetic gene that drastically cuts down on the enzyme responsible for browning.
As with the introduction of snack-sized baby carrots, Okanagon Specialty Fruits president Neal Carter is positive that his Arctic apples will remove consumers’ issues with eating an entire fruit at once. According to Carter, “If you had a bowl of apples at a meeting, people wouldn’t take an apple out of the bowl. But if you had a plate of apple slices, everyone would take a slice.” Carter hopes his fruit will reverse declining rates of apple consumption, and will help to curtail the number of apples tossed for minor browning.
Another step in the fusion of the made & the born: Researchers at Harvard University managed to make an artificial jellyfish using a sheet of silicone and rat heart cells. The synthetic creature, dubbed a medusoid, looks like a flower with eight petals. When placed in an electric field, it pulses and swims exactly like its living counterpart.
“Morphologically, we’ve built a jellyfish. Functionally, we’ve built a jellyfish. Genetically, this thing is a rat,” biophysicist and project leader Kit Parker told Nature Magazine. The long term goal of the scientists is to create artificial models of human heart tissues for regenerating organs and drug testing purposes.
Hypernature ahoy! Thanks Jeffrey, Marco.
With the knowledge that footballs were once made of pig’s bladder and that in 2006 the first artificial bladder was transplanted into a patient, artist John O’Shea designed the first bio-engineered football made of lab grown pig’s bladder.
He harvested animal cells from abattoir waste, used rapid prototyping and very precise tissue engineering to create a modern version of the medieval football.
O’Shea hopes his ‘super-football,’ will encourage audiences to consider the importance science plays in our daily lives. Pig’s Bladder Football will be presented at the Abandon Normal Devices festival between 30 August – 7 September.
Infomercial on the hypernatural Udder Cows, optimized for utmost milk production. The video was created by Amir Admoni for the very first next nature power show in 2005, however we probably have to wait until 2050 before the Udder Cows will be grazing the meadows near you, if ever.
Functional multi-tool manicure. Comes in handy at a party where you can’t find a bottle opener. Peculiar image of the week. Unfortunately, neither the human responsible for the manicure or the one sporting it is known.
Some desert animals, like the kangaroo rat, get through their lives without needing to drink even a drop of water. Now, a Japanese design company aims to make humans just as efficient. Faced with a fictional, future scenario of global apocalypse, Takram was tasked with the challenge of creating a water bottle for the end-times. The designers quickly realized that the best approach was not a bottle at all, but a set of artificial organs that retain and recycle the water already present in the body. Their Hydrolemic System is the cyborg’s answer to surviving global warming, nuclear explosions and Death Valley.
Humans are leaky. We sweat, pee, and breathe out all our hard-earned water. The Hydrolemic System uses several devices to minimize this loss. Two nasal inserts harvest exhaled moisture. A generator implanted in the jugular, in combination with a neck collar, transforms body heat into electricity and reduces the need for sweating. Even better are the urine concentrator and the rectal fecal dehydrator, both intended to make every bathroom trip a dry-as-dust affair. The system works in concert with “rubedo candies”, small pills that contain a day’s nutrients and 32 mL of water – less than a thimble-full.
Via Fast Co.Exist
At the last Next Nature Power Show, artist Arne Hendriks gave a lustrous talk on the possibilities of downsizing humanity to better fit the earth.
Last week Arne gave a longer talk on the same topic at TEDxBrainport. Interestingly enough in this new talk Arne not only promotes shrinking humanity as a means to avoid all kinds of overpopulation related disasters, but also adds a positive reason to his argument: shrinking humans could be a way to realize the long dream of human powered flight.
The crucial question: if human eugenics ever becomes acceptable should it be employed strictly to avoid disasters or also to realize human dreams? If we choose for the latter, why not add some wings? Anything is possible, as long as we avoid a situation in which humans don’t recognize each other as humans anymore.
More hypernatural designer-fruit. What do you get when you cross a strawberry and a pineapple? A pineberry, of course.
Some seven years ago the pineberry was taken from its native South America and grown commercially in glasshouses by Dutch company VitalBerry BV. Today pineberries are available in supermarkets throughout Europe and, like most designer-fruits, the pineberry is trademarked and has its own wikipedia page.
These stones were dug up by future archaeologists, some centuries after the integration of the digital and the material world was completed. No seriously, our peculiar image of the week was created by Veronica Ranner.
Most corn has been selectively bred over the centuries to be a single color: yellow, white or blue. Glass gem corn, a varietal grown by Greg Schoen, harkens back to the days when each kernel of corn was a different color. This variation is due to the fact that, rather than being identical, all the kernels are genetically distinct siblings.
The glass gem echoes the jewel caterpillar, another organism than by dint of its otherworldly beauty recently went from natural phenomena to internet phenomena. Even though we live in a time where computer graphics make every chimeric beast and landscape visible, we’re still just as – or even more –interested in natural freaks as our ancestors who once flocked to fairs and sideshows.
During the coming weeks, we will present a selection of our favourite pages from the Next Nature book. To kick the series off, we’ll start with a spread about hypernature; the enhanced version of nature.
Much of the so-called ‘nature’ in our lives has taken on an artificial authenticity. Engineered tomatoes are redder, rounder, and larger than the ones from our gardens. Domestic pets could not survive in the wild, but prosper by triggering our empathy. We have made fluorescent fish, rainbow tulips and botanical gardens that contain species from every corner of the globe.
Human design has turned nature into hypernature, an exaggerated simulation of a nature that never existed. It’s better than the original, a little bit prettier and slicker, safer and more convenient. Hypernature emerges where the born and the made meet. It presents itself as nature, yet arguably, it is culture in disguise.
Note from the editor: This spread is a perfect example of the relation between this website and our Next Nature book. Over the years, we have posted several stories about hypernature, but we never really pinned the term down. The editing process of the book allowed us to study it much better and come to a better understanding of what it is, and how it should be described. Which in return resulted in the thematic sections you can find on this website, like this one about hypernature.
Featured here are pages 124-125 from the book Next Nature: Nature Changes Along with Us. More information about the book can be found here.
Italian architect Carlo Morsiani would like to take Amsterdam’s canals from dark, dank and filled with old bikes, to brilliant, blue, and presumably still filled with old bikes. Morsiani recently proposed adding bioluminescent members of Photobacterium to the city’s waterways. With the canals stocked with motion-sensitive bacteria, any passing boats or accidental swimmers would leave a hazy blue trail in their wake.
The idea is not entirely untenable – bioluminescent organisms congregate in such density in Vieques, Puerto Rico, that the bay has become a tourist attraction. Since these tropical organisms produce only weak light, Morsiani has a lot of genetic modification to work out before these bacteria can adjust to life in Europe. Add glowing canals to buildings coated with Photobacterium and transgenic streetlight trees, and we might never have to change a lightbulb again.
Story via The Pop-Up City.
The United States Food and Drug Administration recently approved Elelyso, the first drug to be grown in genetically modified plant cells. Produced in carrot cells, this drug helps to treat the symptoms of Gaucher disease, a genetic disorder that causes bruising, anemia and low blood platelets.
Israeli scientists were able to insert a gene that codes for a human enzyme into carrot cells, causing the cells to produce the same protein that Gaucher patients lack. This new method should help prevent drug shortages that have affected Gaucher sufferers in the past, as well as being cheaper and less prone to infection than animal cells. Soon mothers may be telling their children to eat carrots, not just for better eyesight, but for better health across the board.
Bioengineer Raymond Ong remixes the beauty & variety of nature into something nature could not have imagined. By transferring the DNA of existing animal patterns on the skin of stingray fishes, his company creates uniquely customized fish leather. This leather is then used to produce highly personalized sneakers.
Grow your own
fish sneaker at Rayfish.com.
Using only plastic sheets and an irrigation-nutrient system, a Japanese researcher has found a way to change agriculture as we know it. Professor Yuichi Mori argues in his talk at TEDx Tokyo that a film made of hydrogel with nano-sized holes in it is the most important ingredient for growing crops.
The roots of plants will attach themselves to the transparent membrane plastic and the technique uses much less fertilizer and one tenth of the water to produce the same amount of crops as in conventional agriculture.
According to Mori any surface in the world will work, from contaminated ground from the Tsunami in Japan in 2011 to the desert. This last statement is being tested at the moment, as desert greenhouses in the Middle East are supplied with the technique.
Just like corn, bananas, and essentially any other plant we cultivate, the Cutie mandarin is the result of a concerted effort to produce an ideal food. Mandarin oranges come from wild orange trees that grew in India, possibly as long as three millennia ago. Introduced to the West in the 19th century, the mandarin has since been carefully bred, even irradiated, to bring tasty new mutations to market.
The Cutie’s peel comes off like zipper. The fruit is small, seedless, and sugar-sweet. Gone is the hassle of wrangling with a tough peel, or spitting out pips with every bite. The Cutie is, in fact, about as close to a candy bar as a fruit can get. There’s even a saccharine marketing campaign to go along with them: Cuties are made for kids.
The mandarin’s perfection, however, dispenses with a relationship that’s as old as flowering plants. Like all citrus, Cuties produce seeds when they’re pollinated. To produce a dependable snack, Cutie growers must protect their orchards from bees and other pollinators via nets, physical isolation, or other means. Effectively fencing out bees from huge sources of nectar, this widespread farming practice may be a contributing factor to hive collapse. Developers of the Tango, another mandarin variety, have bypassed this issue by producing a completely sterile fruit.
Via Smithsonian Magazine.