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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 ‘Nanotechnology’

  • nanoflowers

    Nanoscale Bouquet of Flowers

    About 25 micrometers wide and 100 micrometers tall these “flowers,” created by scientists at Harvard, are made from barium carbonate and silica. Through a complex chemical process, the researchers can induce these tiny flower-like structures to self-assemble. By controlling the environmental temperature different shapes and sizes can be coaxed to spontaneously form.

    This method of manufacturing nano-scale structures has implications for the nano-industry in the long run. But for now, I would really love to order a custom made nano-bouquet for my girlfriend, accompanied by a false color image, as the bouquet would be next to invisible to the naked eye.

    Story via extremetech.com

     

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  • nanosponge

    Nanosponges “Soak Up” Toxins and Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria

    Engineers at the University of California have developed a “nanosponge” that can safely remove a variety of dangerous toxins from the bloodstream. Unlike other antitoxin platforms, this technology is not limited to a single type of threat. These nanoscale sponges can “soak up” MRSA, E. coli and other antibiotic-resistant bacteria, as well as venom from snakes and bees. Studies performed on mice show that 89% of the test subjects inoculated with the sponges survived a lethal dose of MRSA. Those injected after exposure to a lethal dose still had a high survival rate of 44% .

    The nanosponges are made of a biocompatible polymer core. In order to evade the immune system and remain in circulation in the bloodstream, the sponges are wrapped in red blood cell membranes. A single red blood cell membrane can generate thousands of nanosponges. The nanosponges work by outnumbering red blood cells, serving as “decoys” for the bacteria and toxins.

    Via Eurekalert.org 

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  • Nano Shots?

    Nanotech Shots Take Mice from Drunk to Sober in Minutes

    Ever curse the fact that you have to wait hours to sober up after a night at the bar? Now, you can sober up almost instantly  – that is, if you’re a mouse. Researchers at MIT have created an injection of alcohol-digesting enzymes in nanoscale “pills” that can quickly reduce the blood alcohol of mice.

    Until now, scientists have struggled with using enzymes as medicine, since it’s difficult to create stable versions with a controlled size and arrangement. Enzymes are a type of protein that act as a catalyst to specific biological processes. In biological washing powder, for example, enzymes are used to catalyse (speed up) the breakdown of fats and proteins, letting us wash our clothes at lower temperatures and still sustain good results.

    This effective new method of delivering enzymes might someday lead to medicines that could take humans from drunk to sober within a matter of minutes. Perhaps bars might offer these injections as a complimentary service to patrons. Whether it will cure a hangover remains to be seen.

    For the full research report click here.

  • snail-teeth_anastasia

    The Future of Solar Power? Snail Teeth!

    Gumboot chiton is a marine snail with an appetite for algae growing on rocks. Grazing on rocks would destroy the teeth of others, but not the gumboot chiton. This snail produces the hardest biomineral yet discovered to deal with its punishing eating habits.

    This mineral, called magnetite, has inspired a new type of solar cell and a new type of lithium battery. By understanding how the snail produces this mineral, researchers could develop similar ways to make nano-materials at room temperature. This will allow researchers to develop low-cost, high-efficiency microscopic structures.

    Dr. Kisailus, of Riverside’s Bourne College of Engineering in California, believes that understanding the gumboot chiton will lead to solar cells that can capture and convert more sunlight into electricity, as well to more efficient batteries. “If we can reduce the size of particles in batteries, which at present, are massive on a nano-scale, this will reduce their recharge time and increase their power efficiency”.

    Via Elements Science

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  • Screen shot 2012-12-12 at 12.26.40 PM

    Genetic Screening for Christmas Trees

    If you’ve turned to plastic Christmas trees because the real ones leave piles of needles behind, science is working to bring live conifers back into your holidays. A $1.3 million project in the US is trying to find which individual trees hold onto their needles most tenaciously. A team headed by plant pathologist Gary Chastagner is subjecting thousands of branch samples to a “rub test” and then meticulously counting the number of needles that fall off. By comparing shedding versus non-shedding pines, the team hopes to find the piece of RNA responsible for needle loss  – and to develop an easy field test for identifying that trees that lack the offending nucleotide.

    Genetic testing aside, the story of the commercial Christmas tree in the US is an interesting one. A tradition introduced by German immigrants, Christmas trees were mostly gathered from wild or semi-wild conditions until the 1970s. Unfortunately, harvesting all the young conifers from a forest has the side effect of letting understory shrubs and weeds to go wild. Competing for light against these quick-growing plants, pine tree saplings grew tall and spindly – a shape that’s not particularly festive. Christmas tree farms sprung up to provide the perfectly conical trees that no longer existed in the wild. Hypernature at its most festive.

    Via the New York Times. Image via Ian Sane.

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  • diatom circle

    Nanotech Diatoms

    No, those aren’t plastic trinkets or beads from a craft store. They’re diatoms, a group of single-celled algae, and unlike almost all of our current technologies, they can rapidly and reliably synthesize  nanoscale structures. Diatoms produce incredibly complex silica shells that are riddled with a regular pattern of pores. As can be seen above, diatoms come in an incredible variety of shapes – around 100,000 species in all. Strong, easy and quick-growing, and virtually unlimited, diatoms are drawing the attention of scientists who are interested in nanotechnology.

    As with many nanotechnologies, research into the use of diatoms is in its infancy. These microscopic algae have been studied for their ability of synthesize novel electrical devices, including new ways to detect pollution. A chemical process that converts their silica shells into silicon creates ready-made nano electronics. Since biologically active molecules attach to the pores in their shells, they may eventually function as a “lab on a chip” for detecting antibodies, traces of diseases, and other chemicals in the body. Diatoms also show promise in the fields of optics. Solar energy cells with diatom-based coatings capture three times more electrons that standard coatings. Genetic manipulation might refine the diatom’s natural precision engineering to create bespoke parts for nanosensors and nanoscale machines from diatoms. Further proof that guided growth is the future of manufacturing.

  • nanotechnology water bottle

    Nanotech Water Bottle Harvests Water from the Air

    The Namib desert gets less than a half an inch of rain per year, yet the stenocara beetle manages to survive in these punishing conditions. The beetle’s secret lies in an array of microscopic bumps and valleys on its shell. The bumps are hydrophilic (water-attracting) and the valleys are hydrophobic (water-repelling). During foggy days, tiny water droplets accumulate on the hydrophilic bumps. Once a droplet is big enough, it tumbles off the bump down into a hydrophobic trough, which funnels the water to the beetle’s mouth. Now, a company called NBD Nano is hoping to mimic stenocara’s shell to create the world’s first self-filling water bottles.

    NBD Nano co-founder Deckard Sorenson says that “We see this being applicable to anything from marathon runners to people in third-world countries, because we realize that water is such a large issue in the world today, and we want to try to alleviate those problems with a cost-efficient solution.” According to him, this technology could harvest three liters per square meter per hour in an area with 75% humidity. Unfortunately, the self-filling water bottle is still years from being realized, if ever. For those of you who are impatient for a solution to the world’s water crisis, GrabCAD is holding a contest to design devices that harvest water from the air.

    Story via BoingBoing. Image via GrabCAD.

  • ht_mission_impossible_ghost_protocol_thg_111215_wg

    Spider-Man Gloves

    Imagine how much easier the job of window cleaners would be if they could simply scale walls like Spider-Man instead of using elevators, ladders and other gear. Ever since the first Spider-Man comic appeared children and adults alike have been dreaming of these particular talents. Thanks to “gecko-tape”, these dreams are no longer  science fiction. Luckily, this new method of scaling walls doesn’t involve being bit by a radioactive spider.

    Read more »

  • YouTube Preview Image

    Nanotech Generates the Blackest Black

    As the NANO Supermarket opens discussions on the ethics, purpose and usability of nanotechnology, Frederik De Wilde is researching its artistic possibilities. De Wilde is a guest professor at the Transmedia program at the LUCA School of Arts in Brussels and artist in residence at the University of Hasselt. For a few years he has used nanotechnology to generate “super-black” artworks.

    One technique is to ‘grow’ carbon nanotubes on a silicon wafer. When a photon approaches the surface it slips in between the nanotubes, and cannot be reflected. Because colors are generated through the reflection of photons, the surface of De Wilde’s artworks appear to be blacker than black. When applied to a complex 3D object it appears to be just a silhouette, because no reflections, highlights or shadows can be seen. The works of De Wilde are reminiscent of Anish Kapoor’s Descent into Limbo shown at De Pont in Tilburg, Netherlands.

    Frederik De Wilde takes part in a selection for the TED2013 programme with his talk. Good luck with this.

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  • lungless small

    Nano Product: Lungless

    350 million years after crawling from the sea, the Lungless suit will bring us back. Inspired by fish gills, the Lungless Aquatic Respiration Suit uses millions of cascading sheets of nano-membrane to filter oxygen from the water and deliver it to the diver’s mouth. Enjoy unlimited, tank-free exploration on the other 70% of the planet.

    From the NANO Supermarket product collection. Designer: Sean Serafini. Enabling technology: Nano structures. Feasibility: Medium.

  • nansense

    Nano Product: Nansense

    For years, people have relied on harsh drugs and irritating alarms to control when they sleep and when they wake. Now, the Nansense wristwatch offers an all-natural way to determine your daily rhythms. Using painless nanoscale needles, Nansense monitors and regulates your levels of cortisol and melatonin, the hormones that govern circadian cycles. Have a deadline to meet? Spin the dial for a gentle way to stay awake. Drowsy from jet lag? Nansense will put you on local time in no time.

    From the NANO Supermarket product collection. Designers: Joshua Brevoort, Lisa Chun, Eric Baldwin, Ian Campbell. Enabling technology: Nano sensors, metabolic engineering. Feasibility: Medium.

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  • menoe_1500x877

    Nano Product: Menoé

    At the beginning of menopause, celebrate your reproductive past by giving “birth” to a unique peace of jewelry. By using Menoé’s nano-coated birth control pills over a lifetime, you can grow a gem-quality pearl inside your uterus. This beautiful heirloom will inspire a new rite of passage in any woman’s life.

    From the NANO Supermarket product collection. Designer: Robin Pohl. Enabling technology: Programmable matter. Feasibility: Very low.

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  • info eggs_1500

    Nano Product: Honest Egg

    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.

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  • kreatin_ink_1500x877

    Nano Product: Keratin Ink

    Using genetically modified bacteria, Keratin Ink turns your fingernail clippings into a highly personal ink for writing and drawing. The bacteria transform the keratin in your hair and nails into a dark brown pigment. No need to worry about the microorganisms escaping: Each Keratin Ink well keeps the bacteria safely sealed away. A great gift for the eco-conscious recycler in your life.

    From the NANO Supermarket product collection.Designer: Casper Vos. Enabling technology: Metabolic engineering. Feasibility: Medium.

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  • gloo-doo_1500x877

    Nano Product: Glo-Doo

    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.

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  • nico_bear

    Nano Product: Nico

    Nico is cute, cuddly and serious about your child’s health. Many adults smoke around children with no thought for their developing lungs. Covered in nicotine-sensitive nano-cloth, Nico monitors your child’s exposure to secondhand smoke by changing from brown to black. Log into the website or simply glance at the Nico keychain to see if your child is around a smoker – and if it’s time to fire the babysitter.

    From the NANO Supermarket product collection. Designer: Vincent Hammingh. Enabling technology: Nano sensors. Feasibility: High.

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  • condom_1500x877

    Nano Product: Conception Control

    Using a condom impregnated with artificial nano-antigens, Conception Control only permits sperm with the right chromosome to pass through: X for girls, Y for boys. Conception Control guarantees a child of your chosen gender. Makes picking names and painting the nursery a snap. Perfect for families in need of a male heir.

    Designer: Aylin Groenewoud. Enabling technology: Nano filtration. Feasibility: Medium