Author: Stefan Fincken

Society of Simulations

Virtual Nose for Video Game Players

Fervent gamers and those who tried virtual reality headsets might have experienced a sensation of nausea induced by playing video games. It is a common feeling while interacting many hours with electronic games.

Bradley Ziegler, student at Purdue University, suggested to add a virtual nose to VR experiences. His game design teacher, David Whittinghill, describes the addition of a virtual nasal organ as a “stroke of genius”.

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The First Recorded Attack on a Cyborg

By his own account Steve Mann, also known as “the father of wearable computing” and “the first cyborg,” was attacked by McDonald’s employees for wearing his “EyeTap” digital eye glass last July in Paris. Still far away from the intelligence gathering “gargoyles” described in Neal Stephenson’s cyberpunk novel “Snow Crash” the EyeTap allows Mann to improve sight and film his surroundings while projecting the captured image with an added layer of augmented reality to his eye.

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Book as Human-Computer Interface

In combining the classic feeling of handling a book with the interactivity of the computer, Waldek W?grzyn of the Academy of Fine Arts in Katowice, Poland, has created a new human-computer interface. His Electrolibraryproject connects the custom made book to a PC. Providing additional information, relevant to the page being viewed, on-screen. Turn a page in the book, and you “turn a page” on the website as well.

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Food Technology

Tiny Amounts of Alcohol Might Extend Life

A new study on the effects of cholesterol on the life span of Caenorhabditiselegans, a tiny worm often used in experimentation, resulted in some surprising finds. The life span of the critters was doubled. Now it turned out it wasn’t the cholesterol after all. The cause of the effect was set in motion by the solvent used to deliver the cholesterol. The solvent used? Alcohol.

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Effortless Learning

Matrix-style learning sounds like an impossibility, yet new research suggests it might become reality. Boston University and ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories in Kyoto have conducted experiments in which they demonstrated that they…

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Synthetic Cricket Hair

Crickets Inspire New Sensitive Sensor

Inspired by crickets, researchers of the MESA+ Institute for Nanotechnology of the University of Twente in the Netherlands have build a biomimetic sensor that can measure changes in airflow and pressure. It…

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Robot Guide Dog

Possibly the answer for blind people with cynophobia, the fear of dogs. This robot guide dog is stil a bit slow compared to the old nature version, but as technology advances it…

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Bugged Bugs

Some of you might remember the Next Nature article by Rolf Coppens called Withus Oragainstus. Since then there have been occasional newsreports on cyborg insects. For instance this article from 2009 describing…

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E.Coli produced Spider Silk

In a previous post we have reported on spider silk, it’s applications and the way it is produced. Adding the gene responsible for the production of the spider silk protein to other…

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Sentient Spaces

Trading Humans for Trading Algorithms

The economic system and profit motive has been a driving force that steers and even dictates social change. Investors and stockbrokers have been a major influence to these social changes, as they decide where money is allocated to serve a specific function. The reason why money is invested in some rather than other businesses isn’t always related to evidence that any given company will do better than the other. Rumors and trading floor gossip sometimes fuel speculations that reap major profits for some and painful losses for others. Losses that could mean the termination of jobs. Of course investment and successive financial gains can also lead to job losses, mostly due to automation where machines replace human workers.

Now in a strange yet somewhat satisfactory twist of irony, the people who have been making money out of money, have a growing chance of being replaced by faster and cheaper algorithms that can do their jobs better.

“The Foresight Project” by the “Government Office for Science” of the United Kingdom produced a report called “The Future of Computer Trading in Financial Markets” which investigates the trends of computer trading and its effects on financial markets. One of these effects is the replacement of human speculators by algorithms. Thus far about a third of UK trading is done by computers compared to three quarters in the United States.

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Drugs are Nuts

Thinking about Next Nature can sometimes result in a feeling of vertigo. Normal standards are eroded and slowly replaced by next natural ones. A bewildering example can be found in a letter the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sent to a manufacturer of walnuts.

Based on claims made on your firm’s website, we have determined that your walnut products are promoted for conditions that cause them to be drugs because these products are intended for use in the prevention, mitigation, and treatment of disease. The following are examples of the claaims made on your firm’s website under the heading of a web page stating “OMEGA-3s … Every time you munch a few walnuts, you’re doing your body a big favor.”

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Spidergoats & Superskin

While some of us might have heard of the humorous but fictional ‘spider pig,’ spidergoats are the real deal. Although you might expect to see them lounging in giant webs or dangling…

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