Author: Allison Guy

citrus greening
Designed-by-Evolution

Oranges Are Going Extinct – Unless a Gene from Spinach Can Help

The apocalypse is on its way – at least for oranges. Citrus greening, a disease that kills citrus trees and makes their fruit green, shrunken and inedibly bitter, is racing across the globe. The disease, which is transmitted from tree to tree by a tiny insect called a psyllid, was first reported in China in 1943. Since then, it’s spread across the globe, finally making its way to Florida’s famous orange groves in 2005.

There is no known cure. A worldwide search failed to turn up a naturally immune tree. Measures like burning infected trees and dousing the psyllids with insecticide slow but do not stop the disease. With such seemingly bleak odds, does this mean the end of oranges, lemons and grapefruits?

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in vitro meat hamburger
Food Technology

World’s First In Vitro Hamburger Arrives

After leaving our stomachs growling for two whole years, Professor Mark Post has announced that the world’s first in vitro hamburger is finally here. The burger, grown from 3,000 rice-sized strips of lab-grown muscle tissue, will be cooked and consumed before a London audience this Monday. The 150 gram burger cost a whopping €300,000, making it far and away the most expensive hamburger ever produced. We don’t envy the chef in charge of grilling it.

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discus breed fish
Genetic-surprises

Taste the Artificial Fish Rainbow

A gorgeously uncanny school of discus fish cluster in an aquarium, all of them captive breeds. Though there’s nothing unusual about artificially selecting animals for flamboyant or bizarre traits, it’s still compelling…

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Screen shot 2013-07-23 at 3.29.46 PM
Food Technology

Food Familiarization #3: Mimicry

This is the second part in a series that examines the different ways new foods become naturalized parts of our diets. Part 1, Part 2

Food mimics try to look and taste like whatever they’re replacing. Veggie burgers, veggie sausages, even the dreaded vegan bacon, all exist to comfort the nostalgic vegetarian. These meat-mimics imply that a change in diet doesn’t mean a loss of deep-seated cultural rituals. You can still barbecue and eat a full English breakfast. Sort of. 

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friedrich de grosse
Food Technology

Food Familiarization #2: Celebrity Endorsement

This is the second part in a series that examines the different ways new foods become naturalized parts of our diets. For part one, click here

Potatoes are an evil, unchristian tuber, a food so disgusting that even dogs refuse to eat it. Or, if you’re European, that’s what you might still think, if not for the aristocracy’s work to popularize the potato in the 1700s. Though we associate the celebrity endorsement with vapid talk shows and magazine spreads, in reality it’s been around for centuries, and it’s played a far more serious role than we give it credit for.

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Patagonian-toothfish
Fake-for-Real

Food Familiarization #1: Semantic Tricks

This is the first in a series of case studies that examine the different ways new foods become naturalized parts of our diets. Why is this important? Promoting the consumption of insect, plant and in-vitro protein is an increasingly vital component of addressing global food and environmental concerns. Despite this, convincing consumers to abandon steaks and chicken nuggets remains a daunting task. 

When is a Patagonia toothfish not a Patagonian toothfish? When it’s a Chilean sea bass. In the first principle of food familiarization, semantic tricks are used to place strange food in a context where it feels familiar, alluring, or healthful. In the infamous example of Dissostichus eleginoides, an ugly fish with an ugly name was rebranded as the sexy-sounding Chilean sea bass.

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Anthropomorphobia

The “Actroid” Lives in the Uncanny Valley

Deep, Deep in the uncanny valley lives this Japanese humanoid robot, aptly called an ‘actroid’. She can function autonomously, talking and gesturing while interacting with people. While her appearance may not be as hyper-realistic as her cousin Geminoid F, her interaction is autonomous instead of tele-operated. This makes her at the same time more effective and a bit creepier.

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Prosthetic limb that embraces its artificiality
Anthropomorphobia

Prosthetic Limbs Straight from Versailles

We often bemoan the design issues with skeuomorph prosthetics: Why make a weak re-creation when you can make aesthetic or functional improvements on the original? The Alternative Limb Project takes this philosophy to heart by creating gorgeous new limbs that call attention to their artificiality with jewels, hand-painted flowers, and see-through anatomy.

Above, Jo Cranston wears the Snake Arm. Click through for more photos.

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