The presence of plastics in the World Ocean is well known, but what do we know about its presence in the sea salt widely consumed by humans across the globe? A recent study by Malaysian researchers examining the purity of 17 commercial sea salt brands from eight different countries found chemical traces in all samples. The contaminants include microplastics and pigments associated with textile, rubber and fiberglass products.
A multinational team of geologists made a rough estimate of the size of the physical structure of Earth’s technosphere – finding that its mass approximates to 30 trillion tons. That’s a mass of more than 50 kilos for every square meter of the Earth’s surface.
The Letter to Humanity is addressed to all 7 billion people on Earth and available in twenty-five languages. It encourages a new perspective on the role of humanity on Earth. The letter urges humans not to be slaves or victims of technology, but to use technology to enhance humanity.
It feels strange writing you a letter, I admit. Letters are generally addressed to an individual or a limited group of people. It’s unusual to write to humanity as a whole. You don’t even have a postal address, and I doubt you get much correspondence. Still, I thought it was time I wrote.
Obviously, I realise I can’t possibly reach you completely – if only because humanity not only consists of every person who’s alive right now but also of everyone who’s ever lived. That’s an estimated 107 billion people. And then there are all the others who haven’t been born yet – hopefully there will be a great many of them. I’ll return to that later, but before we talk about the future, I’d like to look back.
In the desert landscape of the Californian Coachella Valley, artist Jennifer Bolande installed a series of billboards that camouflage themselves with the surroundings. Drivers in the desert are treated with an advertisement of the very thing so often overlooked.
Our peculiar image of the week is picture of a tree. No wait, a tree with an advertisement. No wait, a cellphone antenna tree with an empty billboard and a tiny label that reads: Media 24/7. One has to agree the whole scene exemplifies media 24/7 alright. Only in lovely Dubai.
Artist: Unknown. Photo: Van Mensvoort
Instagram accounts with young girls featuring stunning selfies are hardly unusual. However, 21-year-old Paola Antonini’s popular IG account is certainly beyond the ordinary. The Brazilian model uses her Instagram to show off her prosthetic limb, the result of a tragic car accident in 2014 when Antonini was hit by a drunk driver.
Some 500 years ago surrealist avant la lettre, Hieronymus Bosch, painted his ‘The Garden Of Earthly Delights’. The masterpiece is a warning on the perils of life’s temptations. To celebrate the 500 year anniversary for the painter, our friends at Studio Smack made a contemporary interpretation in a hallucinatory 4K animation.
Oh no! What do we have here? A map of The Netherlands with all its major cities – Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, Utrecht, Almere – flooded and vanished into the ocean. Must be a speculative rendering of what happens when climate change kicks in and ocean levels rise. Is this our future? Think again, this is what some historians believe our past was, long before people started building dikes in the lowlands.
Behold food technologist Prof. Atze Jan van der Goot and his 3x30x60 cm mega steak! The taste is a bit bland still but the texture resembles animal muscle tissue, which gives it a great ‘bite’. The mega steak was grown in a laboratory at Wageningen University (The Netherlands) with a process that, according to the researchers, resembles the baking of bread. And it is vegetarian too.
The FarmBot Genesis is a farming machine designed for at-home automated food production. The autonomous robot can be installed atop and around a small garden – in your backyard, on a rooftop, or inside a greenhouse. FarmBot performs nearly the entire gardening process prior to harvesting, including planting the seeds, watering each plant precisely and on a set schedule, monitoring conditions and removing weeds. You can pre-order your own FarmBot kit for $3,900.
The medieval VR headset interpretation by Lara Baladi begs the question: how will the future perceive our so-called modern technologies? We are primitives of a next nature. Peculiar image of the week.
Photo by Sue Ding, seen at MIT VR conference, thanks Geert.
As technology progresses not only cleaners, taxi drivers and accountants, but also the president of the United States, may be replaced by intelligent machines. Especially with the imperfect 2016 candidates, Trump and Hillary, it is tempting to consider IBM’s artificial intelligence system Watson as the leader of the free world.
Regular readers of this blog know we closely monitor the “blind innovation” of shaving razors, as a symbol of our co-evolutionary relationship with technology. Recently, we stumbled upon a rare mutation: The Razorius Gilletus Blue III, is the non-disposable version of the disposable Gillette Blue III razor. It thrives in regions where people have less money to spend, but still want something durable.
Our peculiar image of the week shows a sign for Internet opening hours recently encountered in Cuba. At first you read it as a symbol of the stalled technological development in the socialist state, but then you realize the tidal approach to an Internet connection might just as well be interpreted as a deliberate design for silence, quietude and meditation. Back or forward to nature? We file it as Innovative Nostalgia.
Imagine you were a caveman living in 70.000 BC and a visionary caveman friend would predict that in the far future: “People will be able to fly, and there will one day be more people flying above the surface of the Earth than there are people on it now”. It would be an mind boggling caveman prediction. Still the numbers add up.
Designer and architect Neri Oxman and her mediated matter lab explore design at the intersection of technology and biology. In her TED talk, she leads us into a new age of guided growth, microbial factories, augmented bodies and intimate technologies.