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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’

  • hard drive close-up

    Bacteria Inspire New Magnetic Hard Drive

    Certain types of bacteria can navigate using magnetic nanoparticles as tiny compasses. Researchers at the University of Leeds have extracted the protein that controls this process and applied it to computing. Typical hard drives use use “granular computing”, while this new method relies on bit-pattern media, where each miniscule magnetic square on a surface can store one bit.

    The team is close to recreating the data density of modern hard drives, and hope eventually to be able to store one terabyte of date per square inch – more advanced than any existing hard drive. According to Sarah Stanilan, who lead the research, “We’re using and abusing nature because it’s had billions of years to do all of its experiments through evolution, so there is almost no point in us starting from scratch.”

    Photo via Downhilldom. Story via New Scientist.

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  • silkworm cocoons

    Regrowing Bones with Silk

    Time to add another superpower to insect silk, which already includes bulletproof skin and implantable microelectronicsRecent research indicates that silk may be an ideal candidate for creating strong, flexible scaffolding for re-growing bones. Scientists used a chemical process to break silk strands down into nano-scale fibers that were used to reinforce a silk protein scaffold. By mimicking the natural roughness and stiffness of bone, this biodegradable structure helps to encourage vigorous bone growth. While certain biomaterials are at the center of research into bone regeneration, few of these existing materials can match silk’s toughness, especially in load-bearing grafts.

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  • carrots

    First “Farm”aceuticals Grown in Carrots

    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.

    Story via Nature. Photo via Flickr user Loose Ends

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  • nano milan

    Natura Prossimo a Milano

    Calling our Italian readers! This week our NANO Supermarket will be visiting Milan as part of the Salone Internazionale del Mobile, a show devoted to product and interior design. While the show is only open to invitees, the NANO Supermarket is open to everyone. Come learn, discuss, and sample some pharmaceutical sushi.

    NANO Supermarket Exhibition 18-22 April 2012
    Studio Zeta, Via Friuli 26, 20135 Milan, Italy (map)

    Opening hours:
    Wed 4/18: 11 AM – 7 PM
    Thu 4/19: 9 AM – 7 PM
    Fri 4/20: 9 AM – 7 PM
    Sat 4/21: 9 AM – 7 PM
    Sun 4/22: 11 AM – 5 PM

    * Pre-opening at Dutch Consulate on 17th of April 18:00

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  • box front

    ‘Alp’ Turns Containers into Refrigerators

    Transporting and displaying cold food is an incredibly wasteful and inefficient process. Current display refrigerators, like those that display meats or cheeses in supermarkets, create cold air that is quickly lost to the open environment. The volume that is cooled is inevitably greater than the volume. Alp, by Ethan Frier, is a transportation and refrigeration concept for the supermarket of 2021. It consists of standardized, reusable boxes in which food items are packed, shipped and displayed.

    The boxes are constructed of highly thermally conductive nanomaterials. They cool food via contact with a refrigerated “wall” that is permanently installed in the supermarket for display purposes, or in the wheeled containers used for transport. This system replaces the cardboard boxes typically used to ship food, the refrigerated infrastructure used to transport cold food (refrigerated trucks, large industrial holding refrigerators) and replaces the refrigerated shelving systems used to display cold food for sale.  Alp is completely modular and scalable, and can be configured to replace almost any type of refrigerator, from mini fridge to industrial size. Alp challenges us to critically think about how we refrigerate and transport our food.

    For additional documentation, visit the project page.

    Want to design your own speculative nanotech? Check out the Call for Products in the second edition of the NANO Supermarket

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  • Poster1 Part 2

    Nanotech Bracelet Detects Allergies

    Designed by Luc de Smet, Awear is a speculative bracelet that can detect and record the sources of allergies for children in uncontrolled environments, such as schools and playgrounds. While the child wears the bracelet, parents or teachers can check the results on a computer or smartphone. It can be removed at any time when it is deemed no longer necessary or in the way.

    Awear works by using an array of nanosize Raman spectroscopes that can scan any surface where light pierces. These miniature spectroscopes would look inside the wearer’s skin to see if an allergic reaction is occurring, and then analyze the surrounding air to detect what allergens are in range. GPS or another similar technology would record the location. The bracelet could be linked with others to share information, and could be modified to give warnings when certain known allergens are in range.

    Want to design your own speculative nanotech? Check out the Call for Products in the second edition of the NANO Supermarket

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  • scale of the universe

    The Relative Size of Old Nature

    Created by Cary Huang, this interactive scale of the universe shows the relative sizes of everything from quarks to the Hoover Dam. Be prepared for some cosmic gee-whiz moments when you get out to the nebulas. The objects are complimented with cheeky facts such as “If you were to stretch your skin over Vatican City, the coating would be 200 nanometers thick.” Just a reminder that there’s still an incomprehensibly huge amount of ‘old nature’ out there left to explore.

    The Scale of the Universe

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  • NANO_call_header_

    Nano Supermarket 2nd Edition: Call for Products

    The NANO Supermarket is evolving! After two successful years touring the globe, the supermarket is now entering its second edition. We are calling upon designers, technologists and artists to submit their speculative nanotech products for the next round of the NANO supermarket. A selection of the most innovative products will be exhibited in the physical space, and featured in the accompanying catalogue. The best product overall will win a € 2500 prize.

    Nanotechnology is an important emerging technology  – it radically intervenes with our sense of what is natural – yet most people are still relatively unaware of its consequences. The Next Nature NANO Supermarket is a physical “supermarket” that features debate-provoking visions on nanotech products that could be expected to hit the shelves between today and 2020.

    Just what is a nano product? Click through for some examples of our past entries:

    Read more »

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  • MIT artificial leaf

    Fake Leaf is Twice as Efficient as the Real Thing

    Improving on photosynthesis has long been a dream for scientists. The so-called artificial leaf – which wouldn’t necessarily look like one – would run on only solar energy and CO2, just like a normal leaf. But unlike a real leaf, an artificial leaf could be made far more efficient at collecting solar energy, and would turn that energy into electricity.

    With their new ‘bionanodevice’, researchers at the University of Michigan have moved one step closer to that goal. Splicing together proteins from cynobacteria, Synechococcus, and Clostridium with nano-scale wire, they have created a frankenstein device that is more efficient at photosynthesis than any of the bacteria on their own. Their research joins recent efforts at MIT, where scientists have developed a ‘leaf’ that produces hydrogen from water and sunlight.

    Fake leaves producing real energy are still a way off, since producing nanodevices cheap and tough enough for mass production will prove difficult. Even though these devices are double the efficiency of natural leaves, they still only convert 4 to 5% of solar energy into useable electricity. Artificial photosynthesis may have to triple the efficiency of actual plants in order to compete with more conventional means of producing electricity.

    Image of MIT artificial leaf via Geek.com

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  • 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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  • nanoworld1_530

    Nano World Map

    The NanoWorld Map is an imaginative map of the emerging world of nanotechnology. It presents an overview of the state of the art of nanotechnology: its application domains, its enabling technologies and products.

    When traveling through the landscape of the Nano World one comes across its opportunities, fears, risks and desires. Established applications are presented as cities, whereas speculative applications are rendered as villages.

    Map out your route or travel along the given routes on the map. Imagine how the products on your journey will have impact on your life and the life of others. Would you use the products? How can this change your life and what will be the impact on your environment?

    Launch the: Online Version of the Nano World Map.


    The Nano World Map was designed by Niko Vegt, advised by Hendrik-Jan Grievink, Koert van Mensvoort and Bart Walhout in collaboration with the Rathenau Institute. Created for the Nano Supermarket. Sponsored by Nanopodium.

    Read more »

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  • manco_7

    Manko & Soup [#6]

    When Nada returned as promised with a small bowl of soup in her hands, Manko was sitting upright with a grumbling stomach. Even now that Manko could see normal again, Nada’s hair was still a red blur. Her green eyes looked at him curiously from under the short bob haircut.

    Nada: ‘Ha, you’re staring at my kinetic hairdo.’

    She shook her head, which made her hair flash up into a bright red light, as if she was a big matchstick and her head was about to burst into flames.

    Nada:
    ‘Here, this tomato soup will make you feel better. It’s slightly enhanced with nano-tech, as is everything in this place.’

    Manko put the bowl to his mouth and eagerly slurped the soup. It did not burn his mouth, so he took a big gulp and a warm stream made its way down his throat and into his rejoicing belly. This must have been the best soup he’d ever had. The warmth did not stop in his belly though, but continued to spread thoughout his body. A mellow warmth that soon reached his arms and leg. As he swallowed the last bit of soup, he could feel it already reaching his fingertips. It was as if he was being filled up like a radiator, hollow on the inside, with hot water filling him up entirely. It was a marvelous feeling.

    Read more »

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  • id16903_530

    (Nano)technology imitating Nature

    Over the coming years, nanotechnology will invade our everyday lives. Nanotechnology, usually defined as the control and manipulation of matter at the nanoscale, will be incorporated in anything from windshields to cancer drugs, and from sun lotion to batteries. But what exactly is this technology that encroaches upon our daily activities?

    One strategy of explaining nanotechnology is by referring to scale. For instance, it is said that the dot of this ‘i’ encompasses a million nanoparticles or that a human hair is 80.000 nanometers wide. Surely this sounds impressive, but what exactly does it mean? Would it make any difference to my non-technical mind if a human hair would be 800 nanometers wide? Or 8.000.000 nanometers? How do you imagine a technology that is defined by its size, when that size is too small to imagine?

    Read more »

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  • manco_4

    Manko & Nothing [#5]

    Manko was completely cut off from everything around him, virtually dead, buried alive inside of his own body. He remembered Zero’s advice not to panic, but to no effect. He had no feedback from his body. He couldn’t even sense any breathing, which freaked him out. Right now in his mind waves of questions tumbled over each other.

    Were these people serious about living forever? Was this the way he was supposed to contribute? By being preserved like this? He pondered on the possibility of never being woken up. Even if Zero’s team wanted to revive him, would it not be possible that they would fail to wake him up? How often had they done this before? Were there more people like him in other rooms? Were they trying to bring him back to the world at this moment? Were there any complications? Would they soon give up on him?

    Read more »

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  • nanosupermarket_collage_530

    Nano Supermarket in Amsterdam

    From Friday 28 January – Wednesday 2 Februari the Nano Supermarket will be opened at the Leidseplein in Amsterdam. Additionally, on the 27th of January we will be opened at the Nano Festival in Nemo Science Center.

    The NANO Supermarket presents speculative nanotech products that may hit the shelves within the next ten years: medicinal candy, interactive wall paint, programmable wine, a twitter implant, invisible security spray. Come visit us to taste & test our products and experience the impact of nanotechnology on our everyday lives.

    Event website: www.nextnature.net/nano-supermarket

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  • YouTube Preview Image

    Nano Supermarket on Dutch TV News

    The Dutch evening News payed a visit to our Nano Supermarket to familiarize the television viewers with the intricate world of nanotechnology and its potential impact our economy and everyday lives. I apologize to 95% of our readers for the Dutch language in the item. Luckily we’ve got subtitles.

  • ns_bus_530

    Nano Supermarket – Opening Pictures

    Last Saturday, our Nano Supermarket opened its doors in a pleasurably crowded atmosphere. Below are some snapshots of the opening event. If you happen to be in the neighborhood, you can still visit the Nano Supermarket in Eindhoven (NL) until Sunday 31 Oktober.


    Inside the Nano Supermarket.


    Wallsmart programmable paint, by Jonas Enqvist.


    Nanolift – physical photoshop, proposed by Orestis Tsinalis. Read more »

  • nanosupermarket_collage_530

    Nano Supermarket Opens its Doors

    Nanotechnology is an important emerging technology of our time – it radically intervenes with our sense of what is natural – yet most people are still relatively unaware of its consequences. The NANO Supermarket presents speculative nanotech products that may hit the shelves within the next ten years: medicinal candy, interactive wall paint, programmable wine, a twitter implant, invisible security spray.

    Our products are both innovative and useful as well as uncanny and disturbing. They were envisioned as scenarios for potential nano futures, that help us decide what nano future we want. Come visit the Nano Supermarket to taste & test the products and experience the impact of nanotechnology on our everyday lives.

    More info: www.nextnature.net/nano-supermarket