This sculpture of scientist Stephen Hawking – who is both highly intelligent as well as highly dependent on technology – is our peculiar image of the week. Created by by Dinos & Jake Chapman.
Ironically the piece is called: Übermensch. Seen at Niet Normaal.
Coughing into your cell phone could soon save you a trip to the doctor’s office. Thanks to software currently being developed by Star Analytical Services, people may soon be able to install an app that can diagnose cold, flu, pneumonia or other respiratory diseases by analyzing the sound of your cough.
The premises of the software is simple: Trained health workers are already able to distinguish cough types by sound, so why not create software that does the same?
If the idea is successful, it could save patients across the world a trip to the doctor’s office. Instead, they could simply cough into their cell phone and receive a diagnosis a few seconds later.
In 1977, NASA launched Voyager 1 and Voyager 2, two unmanned interplanetary space probes that were sent out to explore the outer space. Aboard each was a record which intended to communicate the story of earth to potential extraterrestrials.
In order to portray the ‘diversity of life on earth’ the records contained 115 images and a variety of natural sounds, such as those made by surf, wind, thunder, birds, whales, and other animals. To this they added spoken greetings from earth-people in fifty-five languages, an eclectic 90-minute selection of music, including both Eastern and Western classics and a variety of ‘ethnic music’, as well as messages from President Jimmy Carter and U.N. Secretary General Waldheim.
While we can only hope that any potential extraterrestrials are familiar with the concept of a record player, one might wonder whether the simple-mindedness of this action reflects the egocentrism of ‘human nature’ or ‘Western Culture’. What does it reflect that we turn ‘outer-space’ into ‘local-space’ in terms of perceiving the universality of our technology not only as relevant and transferable beyond our culture, but also beyond our planet? In this day and age, our technical knowledge and abilities have gone way beyond the LP, but has our ability to contextualize and put our own technological developments into perspective?
Is the evolution of the single bladed razor into an exorbitant five–bladed vibrating gizmo the outcome of human needs, or is there another force in play? Say hello to Razorius Gillettus, one of the new species emerging from our technoeconomic ecology. Proof that evolution should be understood as a universal principle rather than a DNA-specific process. Yet if this is the case, how can we become responsible stewards of these new, non-genetic forms of life?
By KOERT VAN MENSVOORT
My first razor I got when I was fifteen. It consisted of two blades on a simple metal stick and I remember it gave me a really close and comfortable shave. In the twenty years that have passed since my first shave, I’ve used nine different models of razors. This morning I shaved myself with the Gillette Fusion Power Phantom, a rather heavy, yet ergonomically designed battery-powered razor that looks like a bit like vacuum cleaner and has five vibrating blades with an aloe strip for moisture. So what happened? A story about design, technology, market and evolution.
First, a personal disclaimer (in case you were wondering): Yes, I agree shaving technology was already sufficiently developed when I got my first razor twenty years ago. Actually already in 1975, shortly after the Gillette Trac II razor – the first two-bladed men’s razor – was advertised, its excessive design was parodied on the US Television show Saturday Night Live. The creators of the satirical television program played on the notion of a two bladed razor as a sign of the emerging consumption culture and made a fake commercial parody for a fictitious razor with the ridiculous amount of three (!) blades, emphasizing the consumer is gullible enough to believe and buy everything seen on TV. Of course, the comedians of Saturday Night Live could not know a three-bladed razors would become a reality on the consumer market in the late 1990′s. Let alone that they could have anticipated I would shave myself with a five bladed razor this very morning. Welcome in the twenty-first century folks: No we don’t travel in spaceships… but we do have five bladed razors!
Don’t worry, your tongue will only stay neon green for an hour or two after consuming Liquid-Plumr-Cardio. Despite the plaque-busting nanoparticles, we doubt whether this is the do-it-yourself future of medicine. Fortunately it is merely a speculative product created by John W. Stanovich. Peculiar image of the week.
Technologist, environmentalist and nextnature thinker avant la lettre Kevin Kelly, muses on what technology means in our lives – from its impact at the personal level to its place in the cosmos as an evolutionary force. Seen at TEDxAmsterdam 2009.
Recently some scientists in Britain have recommend planetary ‘geoengineering‘ to avoid climate change. And as politicians are listening, it is time to explore the options. New Scientist published this rather lovely diagram of the effectiveness and viability of nine different geoengineering schemes, from space mirrors to planting reflective crops.
Although geoengineering might be a viable escape from an overheated planet, before we dive in the game of deliberately manipulating the Earth’s climate to counteract the effects of global warming, let us realize that maakbaarheid is never finished: Every cultivation of nature typically causes the rising of a next nature that is wild and unpredictable as ever. Just like the inventor of the fridge did not anticipate a hole in the ozon layer, we should be bracing ourselves for some serious side effects of geoengineering.
Perhaps rather than desperately attempting to stop all changes in the climate, we should as a culture gain more of a flexibility towards a constantly mutating environment. After all, change happens.
Samsung has released the results of a consumer study that indicated nearly a third of Denver–area residents would sooner give up sex for a year that go without a cell phone for the same amount of time.
From the Samsung press release:
“The September 2009 research study found 29 percent of men and women in Denver would rather forgo sex for an entire year rather than give up their cell phones for the same amount of time. When it came to the battles of sexes, Denver women (33 percent) were more willing than men (20 percent) to lose their libidos versus missing their mobile phones.”
We leave it up to you, good readers, to contemplate the long term evolutionary consequences of these results.
So you’re triggered by our call for products and now you’re considering to send in one, two or maybe three of your brilliant products for the Nano Supermarket? Good. Or – and this is very likely – you are just interested in this emerging new field of science and design? Also good. In both cases, we recommend you to do a little in-depth nanotech reading. And makes a better starting point to read than, well… the beginning?
December 29th 1959, physicist Richard Feynman gave a lecture titled There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom at an American Physical Society meeting at Caltech. In this lecture, he layed out the new era of what we nowadays call nanotechnology: the study of the controlling (and designing!) of matter on an atomic and molecular scale. The key question in Feynman’s talk was: What would happen if we could arrange the atoms – one by one, any way we want them?
Well, this question is still largely left unanswered: we might be designing the penicillin or the asbestos of the 21st century. This makes the question how to design our nanotech future an urgent one, hence our call for entries. Either way, being able to design atom-by-atom would bring us into a new era of design that merges all existing design disciplines into one: Total Design?
Surely we are quite attuned to some unexpected flavors in these quarters, but this Nano Care™ Blueberry Paste Wax wins our syncretic mash-up award for combining technorethoric with biomimicmarketing.
Who wouldn’t fall for the prospect of giving your car an all-natural-hi-tech massage with a Nanotech Blueberry wax? The creators of the car wax must have wanted to make sure they would reach all imaginable target groups with their product.
“This easy to use formula uses nano-technology based polishing agents and waxes for enhanced surface penetration, durability and gloss. Nano Care Blueberry Paste Wax is made with pure Carnauba and Nano waxes and contains no abrasives. Because it contains a special non-swirl agent Blueberry Paste Wax is especially effective on dark or bright colored cars.”
Sometimes it seems the surrealists were telling the truth after all. Peculiar product of the week.
That’s one small tweet for man, one giant tweet for mankind.
These two co-workers found out the face tracking feature of the utterly advanced HP webcam will not recognize or track black faces.
Hewlett Packard says it’s because the program doesn’t respond to “insufficient foreground lighting.” Too bad for those born without “insufficient foreground lighting”? Amazing, what technorethoric euphemisms people come up with to justify racism these days.
So far for the vain hope that computer systems could overcome human defects and bring justice and equality to mankind. Pity. Thanks Michel.
While currently applied devices, such as cochlea or retinal implants, rely on inductive coupling, which means the power source needs to be centimeters away, engineers at Brown University have now developed an implantable neural sensing chip that is powered via a radio source that can be up to a meter away. The technology is similar to the equipment used to power and read information from radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags.
So far, the technology has only been tested to measure neural activity in moths, but of course “the real challenges and application potential emerge in work with primates.” says Arto Nurmikko, professor of engineering at Brown University. Another small step in the diminishing of the border between people and products.
Quite a multi-layeredness of the artificially strengthened immune systems they have in place at the Thai border. Microbes and terrorist: hand in your passport. Peculiar image of the week.
“We live in a time where everything or everyone can be upgraded or ‘pimped’. After the worldwide acceptance of plastic surgery, it was time to subject our worldly possessions (Pimp my Ride) and digital identities (Facebook) to an esthetical and/or functional upgrade. So it’s likely that eventually everything will be pimp-able. Even our own planet.”
The PIMP MY PLANET video, created the good people of Studio Smack, explores the possibilities of redesigning our planet according to ideals or aesthetic values. It is the wet dream of every modernist – I bet Mondriaan would have liked this – and then you wake up and realize that maakbaarheid is never finished and with every attempt to cultivate nature, a next nature arises that is wild and unpredictable as ever.
Peculiar image of the week. Created by Merijn Bolink.
Recently were introduced, the OOMouse…
…and the Magic Mouse. Both tools are developed to browse the ones and zeros more easily.
It almost seems unfair to compare them, so I won’t. But what I would like to compare instead is both companies’ mission statements:
Open Office: Our mission statement is to create, as a community, the leading international office suite that will run on all major platforms and provide access to all functionality and data through open-component based APIs and an XML-based file format.
Apple: Apple ignited the personal computer revolution in the 1970s with the Apple II and reinvented the personal computer in the 1980s with the Macintosh. Today, Apple continues to lead the industry in innovation with its award-winning computers, OS X operating system and iLife and professional applications. Apple is also spearheading the digital media revolution with its iPod portable music and video players and iTunes online store, and has entered the mobile phone market with its revolutionary iPhone.
The first reads in one word: “community” (building and sharing together). The second reads: “ego” (look how good I am). Now look again at their mices.