Virtual for real. Thanks to artist Jason Freeny we can now study the full anatomical model of the legendary comical species Mus Mickylus. Thanks Ronald.
Virtual for real. Thanks to artist Jason Freeny we can now study the full anatomical model of the legendary comical species Mus Mickylus. Thanks Ronald.
Over the last few decades, the public has been – and still is – creating awareness on the values of organically produced foods. For many foodies an important value of organic foods is the pure production process, without synthetic pesticides and chemical fertilizers.
The food industry tries to capitalize on this by increasing their yield in other ways. To minimize crop losses and thus maximize revenues, they have started to engineer killer bugs. These bugs are programmed to act as pesticides, eating and killing insects to protect the crops.
However, an ethical question arises. Are we now relocating the chemical process of crop preservation from the crops themselves to the insects? Is it better to modify and “enhance” these bugs, so the issue shifts from the crops to a new species and thus an altered ecosystem?
Via Businessweek. Illustration by Gerald Leung.
Birds use whatever they can get their beaks on to build nests, including cigarette butts. Surprising new research from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México shows that instead of giving baby birds a bad case of smoker’s cough, the cigarettes in their nests might actually be helping them. The more used-up filters a nest had, the fewer nest-dwelling parasites called it home.
Since nicotine is a natural pesticide, it’s likely that trace remains of the chemical in the butts are keeping away the creepy-crawlies. The researchers still don’t know if the birds are using butts because they’re good insulators, or if they’re somehow aware of their anti-parasite properties. Birds in more wild environments have been known to line their nests with strong-smelling, bug-repelling herbs, so it’s possible they’re instinctively attracted to that special cigarette stink.
For almost three years, we worked on a sneaker company that we knew would go bankrupt on the day it was founded. This is our coming out.
The fictional company Rayfish.com offered personalized sneakers crafted from genetically modified stingray leather. The online storytelling project was created to catalyze a debate on emerging biotechnologies and the products it may bring us. It furthermore questioned our consumptive relationship with animals and products in general. While such discussions often remain abstract, we aimed to make them tangible in a concrete product you can love or hate.
The rise and fall of Rayfish Footwear took place within a period of seven months. The story began with the launch of the corporate website, commercial, CEO lecture and online design tool. The startup immediately received significant media attention and seemed bound for success, however, there were also critical petitions against the company’s instrumental use of animals.
While almost ten thousand people had designed their own fish sneaker, animal rights activists broke into the company and released all the fishes in the ocean. The CEO of the company, Dr. Raymond Ong, responded with a passionate video statement, which stirred further debate on our estranged relationship with products in a globalized world.
While Rayfish was struggling to find new investors, the escaped fishes where out in the open and started appearing into video’s of tourists and fishermen. The story ended with the bankruptcy of Rayfish, after which the true objective of the company was revealed and the ‘making of video’ was released.
Further information on our motivations, collaborators and supporters can be found on the Rayfish Event webpage. We welcome comments on the Rayfish Facebook page or in the box below. Thanks for participating!
“Of course not, chocolate milk is made from cocoa beans, some additives and white milk that a normal cow produced,” answered the teacher to five-year-old Peter. However, the same teacher could be wrong in the near future. Genetic engineering is developing rapidly and may reach a level with unlimited possibilities.
Scientist already inserted genes into the DNA of cows that came from different species. Research has shown that this technology enables transgenic cows to produce a modified milk composition. For example, Chinese scientists revealed healthier milk with special therapeutic proteins produced by genetically modified cows.
Although chocolate milk producing cows may sound silly, scientists are seriously analyzing the feasibility of the idea. Why not add genes of cocoa and sugar to a cow, in order to create a cow that produces sweet chocolate milk? And how about other flavors, such as strawberry, peach or pineapple?
On the other hand, the ethical corners of this next nature idea should be considered. Genetic manipulation is the largest ethical problems that science has ever faced. Should we restructure nature for sweet chocolate milk from a cow? And what about the potential breeding of new diseases? If genetically modified animals will be in our next nature, scientists should be extremely careful.
Whatever society decides, research about the possibilities of new animal products will continue. Eventually there will be enough benefits for humanity and the redesigning of animals will become part of our next nature.
Researchers in the US have been shocked to discover a beluga whale whose vocalisations were remarkably close to human speech. While dolphins have been taught to mimic the pattern and durations of sounds in human speech, no animal has spontaneously tried such mimicry.
But researchers heard a nine-year-old whale named NOC make sounds octaves below normal, in clipped bursts. They then rewarded NOC for the speech-like sounds to teach him to make them on command and fitted him with a pressure transducer within his nasal cavity, where sounds are produced, to monitor just what was going on.
In vitro meat has been billed as a way to end animal suffering, put a stop to global warming, and solve the world’s insatiable demand for animal protein. There’s no doubt that our hunger for meat is driving cataclysmic climate change, habitat loss, and overfishing. Things need to change, and change fast. But is meat cultured from animal cells, grown in a lab, and exercised with electric pulses the change we need?
Earlier this year, Mark Post of Maastrict University announced his plan to produce a €250,000 burger. While the cost is astronomical, Post promised that economies of scale would eventually make the lab meat cost-competitive with conventional flesh. However, like jetpacks, underwater cities and orbiting colonies, many scientific breakthroughs that once seemed inevitable have proven to be possible, but economically unfeasible.
We can do it. We just can’t afford it. Below are the top four reasons to believe that in vitro meat isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
Often cockroaches aren’t people’s best friends, but maybe in a few years you will be relieved when you see a cockroach. Researchers of the North Carolina State University succeeded in developing a new technique that will be able to move a cockroach in any direction. By doing this, they may be creating an opportunity to change the cockroach’s poor image into that of a life saver.
The technique has three main principles. First, to control the cockroach, they give it a backpack containing a microchip, with a wireless receiver and transmitter. This microchip communicates with a micro-controller, which is also stuffed into the backpack. The controller is wired by electrodes that are implanted into the antenna at the front of its body and the cerci at its abdomen.
The future of farming is not to be found in further mass-industrialization nor in the return to traditional farming with man and horse power, but rather in swarms of smart, cheap robotic farmers that patiently seed, tend and harvest fields one plant at a time without the need for damaging pesticides.
As a result of urbanization there is less and less green nature. Animals get a smaller habitat to live and collect food. But the stony man-made towns become a ecosystem in itself. Some animals are able to change their way of living. For example the heron.
In Amsterdam the birds live together with the inhabitants of the city. The herons live in colonies in the top of the trees. In Amsterdam now they live together in the city park. Originally herons are migratory birds, in the winter they leave to warmer habitats. But in the city there is enough food to survive the winter. Besides the fish from the ditches, now the herons have also the goldfish from the neighbor on the menu.
Some herons are even too lazy to find their own food and try to collect it from the local snack bar. Their only problem left are the Sundays and public holidays to which they are not adjusted yet.
Nearly every adult in the Western world owns a personalized pet, sometimes more than one. It is treated with great care, fed when necessary and fitted to the owner’s wishes and needs. The car.
For decades this car is held close to the humans, since the car was not able to go out on its own. The car of the future is able to drive itself and this future is approaching fast. Today this, so called, autonomous cars are already able to drive safely through a neighborhood and to race on full speed at a race track. But how about the future?
Using fuzzy logic decision-making the car is definitely growing apart from us. Developers are designing vehicles that require less and less human interaction, so that in the near future we will be able to control the car just a little. In the end, the autonomous car will become uncontrollable and will use its own intelligence to drive and to decide. The artificial intelligence will get smarter, which will cause the cars to become beings with self-consciousness instead of the material as it used to be. It may become part of our uncontrollable next nature.
This pet we once had, may turn into an animal we cannot control any longer. Yet we still control it, but we may lose that control.
The weapon industry is one of the most innovative industries in the world for years. However recently, the industry has taken a quite remarkable shift towards genetic manipulation of animals. Researchers at the Hunter College of the City University of New York have successfully “developed” genetic manipulated mice, with extra smell receptors as announced on the annual meeting of the society for neuro science by Charlotte D’Hulst.
The manipulated mice have 500 times more nose cells than regular mice and these extra receptors will make them highly sensitive to the smell of explosives. Scientists hope to use these mice in the future to discover land mines and other explosives, they expect them to be operational in about five years.
Do away with dishonest health claims for eggs and uncertain promises of organic, free-range hens. With eggshells that change color according to hormones, medicines, and nutrients, Honest Egg tells you the truth about your food. The color of each egg provides information on animal welfare, as well as how healthy the egg is for you. How much time did the chicken spend outside? How much room did it have? Is the egg rich in vitamins and wholesome fats? For ethical eaters, Honest Egg takes the guesswork out of shopping.
From the NANO Supermarket product collection. Designer: Soroka Grievink. Enabling technology: Genetic engineering. Feasibility: Very low.
Dog feces are an unsightly blemish on city streets. With Glo-Doo, dog food laced with bioluminescent bacteria transforms each pile into an appealing way to light up the night. As the busy microbes get to work, they break down the poop and emit a blue glow in the process. Left long enough, Glo-Doo will decompose your dog’s doo into harmless, stink-free soil.
From the NANO Supermarket product collection. Designer: Sanne Kat. Enabling technology: Genetic engineering. Feasibility: Low.
The Kitchen Meat Incubator does for home cooking what the electronic synthesizer did for the home musician. It provides its users with a set of pre-programmed samples that can be remixed and combined to their liking. Besides the preparation of traditional styles like steak, sausage or meatballs, consumers can bring their own imagination to the meat preparation process. The handy sliders on the device control size, shape and texture. More expensive models of the Kitchen Meat Incubator also come with a wireless link that allows you to download meat recipes from the internet or share them with friends.
Designed by Daniel Ong for the Eating in Vitro series.
Is the neon green tetra GloFish soon to be the florescent, transgenic terror of America’s waterways? The internet hype machine has repeated ad infinitum the Washington Post’s recent story about the invasive potential of a new breed of GloFish. First sold to the public in 2003, the original GloFish were four brightly colored strains of zebrafish that fluoresced thanks to jellyfish and coral genes.
Last February, the biotech company Yorktown expanded their species range by introducing a transgenic, acid green version of the tetra fish. It’s this Electric Green Tetra (©) that has biologists and wetland conservationists worried. While tropical zebrafish go belly-up in cooler US waters, their argument goes, tetras are better adapted to seasonally cold conditions. Any released GloFish tetras could potentially take over lakes and rivers, their freaky genes compelling them to outcompete native species or breed with their wild cousins.
It’s a catchy argument. It’s also untrue.
If you’ve noticed candy-colored pigeons flapping through Copenhagen lately, don’t blame a freak chemical spill. Artist Julien Charriere and photographer Julius von Bismark have built a conveyer-belt device, equipped with seed and spray nozzles, to lure in unwitting pigeons for a brisk airbrushing. The bird trap was installed for a week to mark the Copenhagen’s architectural biennial, with a total of 35 birds being transformed from drab flying rats into limited-edition “prints”. Watch out, pigeons: Now that you’re art, you’ll have to watch out for overzealous collectors.
Plentiful, familiar and practically tame, pigeons make great raw material for bio-hackers. We’ve seen them used as tools for protestors, as secure alternatives to file-sharing, and as genetically engineered soap dispensers. With green roofs and backyard chickens proliferating through trendy cities, perhaps these artists are paving the way for pigeons to become the next hip urban organism. The only drawback to a pigeon rainbow? There’s definitely not a pot of gold at the end.
Check out the full, gloriously colored collection here. Thanks to Mike Bularz for the tip.
Farmers have long made frugal use of their table scraps, feeding their leftovers to hogs, dogs and now, cows. In a bizarre sign of our cash-strapped and climate-changing zeitgeist, a farmer in Kentucky has turned to feeding his 1,400 cattle on candy. A crippling drought in the US has raised corn prices so much that it’s now cheaper for Joseph Watson to buy factory-discard candy than America’s staple crop.
Global warming is often called “global weirding”, and the factors that have lead to this bovine sugar high are absolutely weird. Global trade and subsidies has combined with food science to create a glut of cheap sugar enhanced with cheap artificial flavorings and colors. Although the original article does not mention the specific brand of candy, from the photos it appears that they’re “rainbow belts” that, strangely enough, list corn syrup as their second ingredient after sugar. Not to mention that cows are ruminants. Even a “normal” diet of corn is fatal, over the long-term, for an animal that evolved to eat nothing but grass.
Luckily, the cattle are unfazed by being put out to graze on Candyland. Watson reports that they’re plump and healthy on their new diet of sugar supplemented with ethanol byproducts (also mostly from corn) and minerals. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to have a burger for dessert.