By now, we are used to uncanny humanoid robots giving us shivers of anthropomorphobia, but at times biology can do that too. Is that Mother Nature showing herself in that tree? Or do people just have an amazing ability to recognize people in almost anything?
Peculiar image of the week, via Amazing Trees.
Botox – one of the many self-cultivating tools people use in the effort to design themselves – works by paralyzing the muscles involved in producing facial expressions. Studies suggest that by doing so, it limits the ability to process the emotional content of language, and may lower the quality of emotional experiences.
Dr. Garth Webb, an optometrist from British Columbia, has invented the Ocumetics Bionic Lens: lenses that after being implanted through an eight minute surgery, improve eyesight up to threefold. These prosthetic lenses, besides transforming the individual who adopts them into a literal cyborg, prevent issues like cataracts, according to Dr. Webb.
Researchers at the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia in Spain have created a prototype called Hydroceramic: a composite material able to lower the temperature of an interior space by five degrees Celsius. Inspired by the sweating human skin, the team sees the modern architecture as an organism, exploring new design possibilities from both material and behavioural perspectives.
Virtual worlds, printed food, living cities, wild robots – we’re so surrounded by technology that it’s becoming our next nature. How can we live in harmony with it? The Next Nature Network is a 21st century nature organization that wants to go forward – not back – to nature. We stir debate, create events, exhibitions, publications and products that bring biology and technology into balance. Because ultimately, we may not just have to save the pandas but the people too. Will you join us?
In these modern times a traditional first aid kit won’t do anymore. As the world around us innovates, our needs in case of an emergency change as well. That’s the reason why a San Francisco-based design agency named Box Clever decided to redesign the classic emergency kit to suit the demands of life nowadays.
A pill that makes you smarter without causing harmful side-effects? Modafinil might be this “smart-drug”. The substance is generally prescribed to narcolepsy patients. Narcolepsy is a neurological disorder involving the loss of the brain’s ability to regulate sleep-wake cycles normally. Modafinil is designed to keep narcoleptic people awake but, when taken by a healthy person, it might boost alertness even further.
Onomichi, a city in the Hiroshima prefecture in Japan, has recently launched an online street view map to introduce the view of the city by a cat’s perspective. From the feline residents, the Cat Street View map offers a fresh angle to look at the urban space in a different way, disclosing the hidden routes and secret paths that were never visible before.
The acronym that keeps Europe awake at night is TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership), a trade and investment deal that the EU is negotiating with the US. From Rome to Brussels consumer groups rise up against it. The reason? This deal could get never-seen-before genetically modified organisms on the supermarket shelves.
Although the trade and the human consumption of GMO animal products are outright banned, there are some bugs in the system, such as the recent “jellyfish-lamb” case. France went into a panic because a lamb that was the offspring of a sheep modified to express a green fluorescent protein made it to market. All over the world biologists are experimenting with animal genomes and the risk of bumping into a “bodybuilder pig” exists. To what extent is there the possibility of having genetically modified animals on our plates? Here an estimate by Wired.
All throughout the science fiction genre we find tales of artificial intelligence surpassing human, “natural” intelligence. Well, as it often happens with science fiction, this archetypal theme is taking its first steps towards its materialization in our real world. Ironically – or maybe not – roboticist David Hanson has built an android in the likeness of sci-fi writer Philip K. Dick.