Category: Essays

In Vitro Meat
Meat the Future

Growing the Future of Meat

Biology grows. In petri dishes or bodies, cells grow and multiply, self-regulating and self-repairing. By taking advantage of the power of biological growth, a single stem cell can theoretically be nurtured to grow indefinitely. Outside of the limits imposed by the edges of an animal’s body, the cells can reproduce and multiply until they exhaust the nutrients and space provided, filling petri dishes and vats to grow the future of meat.

By CHRISTINA AGAPAKIS – From The In Vitro Meat Cookbook

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Anthropocene

The Anthropocene Explosion

Biologically, there is nothing remarkable in the fact that humans are agents of ecological change and environmental upset. All species transform their surroundings. The dizzying complexity of landscapes on Earth is not just a happy accident of geology and climate, but the result of billions of years of organisms grazing, excavating, defecating, and decomposing. Nor is it unusual that certain lucky species are able to outcompete and eventually entirely displace other species. The Great American Interchange, when North American fauna crossed the newly formed isthmus of Panama to conquer South America three million years ago1 is just one among countless examples of swift, large-scale extinctions resulting from competition and predation.

What is remarkable, however, is the stunning speed of human adaptation relative to other species, and that our adaptation is self-directed. From sonar and flight to disease immunity, humans can “evolve” exquisite new traits in a single generation. The Anthropocene represents a catastrophic mismatch between the pace of human technological evolution and the genetic evolution of nearly every other species on Earth. As with many other geological epochs, the Anthropocene has been heralded with a mass extinction, one which is generally accepted to be the sixth great one to occur on Earth.2

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Humane-Technology

Love Your Monsters

Why we must care for our technologies as we do our children.

By BRUNO LATOUR

In the summer of 1816, a young British woman by the name of Mary Godwin and her boyfriend Percy Shelley went to visit Lord Byron in Lake Geneva, Switzerland. They had planned to spend much of the summer outdoors, but the eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia the previous year had changed the climate of Europe. The weather was so bad that they spent most of their time indoors, discussing the latest popular writings on science and the supernatural.

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Wild Systems

Pyramid of Technology

How Technology Becomes Nature in Seven Steps.

From stone-axes to mobile phones, throughout history people have given birth to a wide range of technologies that extend our given physical and mental capabilities. Today, it is almost impossible to imagine a world without technology. Every human being on the planet employs technology of some sort, and every human has to cope with technological change at various points during his or her lifetime. Yet, despite our deep-rooted relationship with technology, and the fact that we are wholly surrounded by it, most of us are still relatively unaware of how new technologies are introduced, accepted or discarded within our society.

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Designed-by-Evolution

What’s the Point If We Can’t Have Fun?

Since Darwin we tend to look at the biological world exclusively in economical terms. The idea that monkey’s, frogs, or even ants do more than simply propagate, doesn’t find much acceptance among scientists. And yet, even crayfishes at times seem to displace objects just for fun.

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Fake-nature

Next Nature and the Curse of Oil

The Next Nature network is admirably raising awareness of the fact that our received and even critical understanding of nature as something opposed and underlying culture (“old nature”) is outdated – if it ever has been valid. Following this, the project wants to take the insight further by insisting that because nature has always been cultural, the next step is to embrace and celebrate how cultural artifacts are (and always have been) escaping control, becoming autonomous, and thereby forming the eponymous “next nature”.

By TERE VADÉN

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Dynamic-architecture

Living Among Pests – Designing the Biosynthetic City

Biosynthetic design is usually discussed at the scale of the individual product. But the city – itself a mixture of synthetic interventions within biological systems – can be considered a more complex piece of biosynthetic design. Conversations in urban planning have moved away from blunt engineering and the evisceration of species to serve human convenience, towards balanced management and co-existence. Joyce Hwang discusses the challenges for designers, and gains for citizens, of living in a truly biosynthetic city. 

This essay originally appeared in Volume magazine #35. Get your copy here. 

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Anthropocene

A Stroll Through the Bubbles of Chemicals and Men

In flipping through the future shock images of biosynthetic speculation, it’s easy to miss the historical trajectory to which biosynthetic practices belong. Etienne Turpin takes a look at the long twentieth century of ‘bubble-expanding’ invention and the underlying drive to maintain our sphere of seven billion people, in order to understand this trajectory. He regards proto-biosynthetic techniques like the Haber-Bosch process, which caused an agrarian revolution by synthetically introducing ammonia-produced fertilizer to farm fields, as a key to understanding the dynamics of living in this brave new biosynthetic world. 

This essay was originally published in Volume magazine issue #35. Get your copy here.

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