Tag: Bionics

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Bionics

Mice Reporting For Duty

The weapon industry is one of the most innovative industries in the world for years. However recently, the industry has taken a quite remarkable shift towards genetic manipulation of animals. Researchers at the Hunter College of the City University of New York have successfully “developed” genetic manipulated mice, with extra smell receptors as announced on the annual meeting of the society for neuro science by Charlotte D’Hulst.

The manipulated mice have 500 times more nose cells than regular mice and these extra receptors will make them highly sensitive to the smell of explosives.  Scientists hope to use these mice in the future to discover land mines and other explosives, they expect them to be operational in about five years.

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Bionics

Latro Algae Lamp

As advances in nanotechnology bring us increasingly energy efficient products, plant life such as algae could become attractive sources for tapping energy. The Latro lamp by designer Mike Thompson is a speculative product responding to this potential future market. It utilizes living algae as its power source.

The idea was inspired by a scientific breakthrough by scientists from Yansei and Stanford University that allows a small electrical current to be drawn from algae during photosynthesis. Placing the lamp outside in the daylight, the algae use sunlight to synthesize foods from CO2 and water.

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Biomimicmarketing

Structuring Biomimicry, Improving Building’s Resiliency

The same way Einstein assumes the speed of light to be a constant of reference for his Theory of Relativity, the philosophy of biomimicry assumes Nature as a constant of reference to a performance-based beauty for design.

Imitating nature has become a meaningful approach for contemporary architects and design futurists to the built environment, especially for those who foster a future that doesn’t compete with nature but coexist with it. At the light of recent natural disasters around the world, especially those geologically associated such as tsunamis and earthquakes, which have proven its destruction power over the current built environment; architects and structural engineers have found in biomimicry an ecological approach in order to improve future building’s disaster resilience.

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Bionics

Who will Question Bio-Engineering?

Bioethicist Paul Root Wolpe presents a parade of recent bio-engineering experiments, from glowing monkeys, to genetically boosted salmon, to cyborg insects. He asks: isn’t it time to set some ground rules? Sure.…

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lastmoment
Anthropomorphobia

End of Life Care Machine

Designer, artist and engineer Dan Chen has developed the ‘End of Life Care Machine‘, a machine designed to guide and comfort dying patients with a carefully scripted message. Chen, just graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design, built the machine as one of a series of functional robots capable of reenacting human social behaviors.

The patient enters the specially designed room and lays on the bed. The doctor asks for permission to put the patient’s arm underneath the caressing mechanism.

“The device is activated, and an LED screen reads “Detecting end of life.” At this point, the doctor exits the room, leaving the patient alone by him or herself. Within moments the LED reads “End of life detected”, the robotic arm begins its caressing action, moving back and forth, stimulating the sense of comfort during the dying process.”

The machine then plays the scripted message:

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Synapse Structure
Bionics

Replacing Synapses with a Single Switch

Neural synapses in the human brain are extraordinarily complex structures. Responsible for relaying information between neurons, chemical synapses govern the release of over 100 different kinds of neurotransmitters, while electrical synapses deliver…

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Anthropomorphobia

Robutt

Tokyo University of Electro-Communications, revealed SHIRI (? = “buttocks”), a “Buttocks Humanoid That Represents Emotions With Visual and Tactual Transformation of the Muscles.” It was made by Nobuhiro Takahashi’s team, known for…

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Bionics

Bacteria Inspire New Magnetic Hard Drive

Certain types of bacteria can navigate using magnetic nanoparticles as tiny compasses. Researchers at the University of Leeds have extracted the protein that controls this process and applied it to computing. Typical…

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silkworm cocoons
Augmented-Bodies

Regrowing Bones with Silk

Time to add another superpower to insect silk, which already includes bulletproof skin and implantable microelectronics. Recent research indicates that silk may be an ideal candidate for creating strong, flexible scaffolding for…

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jae rim
Bionics

The Ecological Human

The nature of humanity in the twenty-first century is, according to sociologist Steve Fuller, a ‘bipolar disorder’ beset with dualisms of identification such as divine/animal, mind/body, nature/artifice and individual/social. He notes that they have challenged our collective sense of identity as ‘human’, particularly though the operationalization of the mind/body question in new material configurations of metallic or silicon bodies [1].

In short, we are ‘becoming’ machines. Inventor Ray Kurtzweil and performance artist Marcel Li Antunez Roca both explore this notion in their projections about the future of the human body. Yet ‘emergentist’ philosophers and scientists have challenged the mechanistic model of matter since the late 18th and early 19th century. They propose another way of understanding the organization of matter [2], without resorting to the customary mechanist  [3] – vitalist [4] dichotomy [5]. Observations from the biological and chemical sciences demonstrate that substances frequently do not behave in a manner that can be explained as the simply ‘sum’ of their components. For example, the addition of an acid and an alkali creates salt and water, while the fusion of an ovum and spermatozoon produces a conceptus. These are transformational rather than additional processes, which resist simple, mechanical interpretations.

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Anthropomorphobia

Is the Human Body Redundant?

The increasing ‘liveliness’ of machines and accessibility to the virtual world has raised questions about whether it is possible to uncouple the mind from the body in through a host of different strategies. The basic idea is that if we are able to escape the ties of our own flesh then we can upgrade them and even replace them with immortal ones. Performance artist Stelarc has made some of the most extreme and enduring work on this subject. The artist characteristically depersonalises his anatomy and claims that it is not only an object that can be subjected to re-designing but is also ‘obsolete’. During his performances, Stelarc mentally ‘vacates’ his own body to prove its obsolescence, and claims that his body is no more than a site for redesigning and re-engineering the human form.

In my view, Stelarc’s work paradoxically highlights the profound importance that embodiment holds for being human. When Stelarc dissociates his mind from his body he demonstrates its sheer plasticity and robustness. The artist then recolonizes the body with robots, communications technologies and soft prostheses as proof of this inbuilt physical redundancy. Yet the machines he hosts are given context by the presence of a body – for in its absence, they are just a collection of machines devoid of meaning. Moreover, redundancy is a characteristic of complex systems, which are a form of organization that does not obey the Cartesian, dualistic laws that govern machines. The artist’s rejection of these qualities simply highlights that the human body is not a machine.

There is nothing liberating about having an anesthetized body, nor one that is functionally redundant. While Stelarc’s suspensions and performances demonstrate that we can temporarily ‘forget’ our bodies in order to explore a transcendent state of being, there are those who live in a permanent state of disconnection.

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algae bioreactor farm
Bionics

Little Green Cows

The world is alight with algae fever.

In this age of deep ecological design aspirations, the range of speculative design projects based on algae technology is growing. Algae are imagined to provide a whole range of solutions, from energy-producing architectural towers, to lights, burgers, skin care productsanimal feed, drug factories and bioplastics. It finally appears that the world is turning green. Literally.

Algae, simple photosynthetic plants that live in water, are among some of the oldest living organisms on earth. Most species can only be seen with a microscope, but others can form dense mats of vegetation or large underwater forests. During the Archean period, between 3.9 and 3.5 billion years ago, blue-green algae* set the preconditions for modern life by changing the earth’s atmosphere, which was choked with poisonous gases, and turning it into an oxygen-rich environment. Their modern-day descendants can use a range of pigments to harvest specific wavelengths of light to form solid plant matter, or ‘biomass’, by using sunlight and carbon dioxide to produce fuel, water and oxygen.

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