Tag: Biopolitics

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Biopolitics

Interview: Nadine Bongaerts, Synthetic Biologist Bridging Science with Society

Nadine Bongaerts is a Dutch synthetic biologist and entrepreneur who is building bridges between science, business and society. Fascinated by engineering life at the smallest scale, she designs bacteria with new functions. In 2010, she joined a team of TU Delft students to participated in the worldwide synthetic biology competition iGEM (Internationally Genetically Engineered Machine) for which they developed DNA bricks that turned bacteria into minuscule oil-degrading cells. The work was recognized nationally and internationally and awarded with different prizes. Her current research focuses on using genetic engineering of bacteria to produce a pearl-like material with advanced mechanical properties.

Bongaerts is always looking for creative ways to share her knowledge and connect science to societal developments. This resulted in the co-founding of Biotecture (2011), a company for communication and education of Life Sciences. Since 2014, she is Global Community Director of Hello Tomorrow in which she leads a global network of scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs and investors to stimulate interdisciplinary collaborations that accelerate scientific findings to the market.

We recently talk to Nadine Bongaerts about the role and impact of synthetic biology, the gap between bio­sciences and society and the importance of communication to overcome the fear of new technologies.

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Biopolitics

Recreating Woolly Mammoth DNA

Bioengineering might soon enable us to bring long gone animals back to life, à la Jurassic Park. Recently, a team of scientists at Harvard University managed to insert wooly mammoth DNA into the genome of its closest relative – the Asian elephant.

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Biopolitics

Electricity From Plants

Imagine you are spending a nice sunny day at the park. Like all good Society of Simulations inhabitants, you want to take a picture of your friends and the amazing picnic you are having, to post it on your social networks. Bummer! The battery of your mobile phone is dead. And of course, there isn’t any electric socket anywhere near. This difficulty soon might be a problem of the past. Dutch technostarter Plant-e designs and develops products that use living plants to generate electricity.

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Biopolitics

Using Wood to Purify Water

Clean drinking water is vital for all human beings. But unfortunately, not everybody has access to safe and uncontaminated water. 3,4 million people, especially children, die annually from water-related diseases.
There are multiple solutions to provide clean drinking water, even in very remote areas. Some are useful, but most of them are also expensive. Using wood might be the most inexpensive, accessible and simple way to clean water, so far.

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Biopolitics

Hurricane Naming System

Since 1948 the World Meteorological Organisation has been naming hurricanes and tropical storms. “ANDREW”, “SANDY”, “IVAN”, “KATRINA”, to name a few. But what did these people do to deserve their names attached…

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Biopolitics

Nature Disappears from Childrens’ Books

In an analysis of Caldecott Medal winning children’s books, sociologist Allen Williams recently discovered that depictions of nature have dramatically declined from 1938 to 2008. Looking at 8,000 images in 296 books,…

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incredible shrinking man
Augmented-Bodies

Incredibly Shrinking Humanity

Arne Hendricks will be presenting The Incredible Shrinking Man at the Next Nature Power Show on November 5th.

Social erosion, fisheries depletion, deforestation- for the 7 billion people on earth, we’re not just approaching an era of resource scarcity, we’re already there. Except for the lucky few, food, shelter, and even water can be expensive and in short supply. We have tried to address global problems with bigger technologies and bigger laws, but what if we decided to go small? Really small. How would the world change if every human was only 50 centimeters tall?

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Augmented-Bodies

Get Vegetarian Teeth and Eat Less Meat

Want to live a greener life? Eat less meat. Recently the UN appealed for a radical shift in diet, to improve individual health and ease conditions affecting the global environment. Reducing meat…

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center for postnatural history
Biopolitics

Take your transgenic kids to the CPNH

The Center for PostNatural History doesn’t house the dinosaurs or dioramas of your run-of-the-mill natural history museum. Instead, it’s the first museum dedicated exclusively to the study and preservation of ‘postnatural’ life: genetically modified organisms, lab animals, and cloned livestock. While the CPNH has been organizing traveling exhibits since 2008, its permanent exhibition space is due to open in Pittsburgh in the fall of 2011. While there have been several art shows centered on bioart and transgenic life, the Center may be the most science-minded endeavor to tackle the fuzzy boundaries between nature and culture.

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Biopolitics

Disaster Edens: The Anti-Tourist Attraction

Imagine your cruise to the Galapagos came with a ghoulish warning: “Your hair will fall out, your skin will blister, you’ll probably get cancer and your children’s children might be born deformed.” Not enough of a deterrent? How about “We’ll shoot you on sight”?  If you’re a visiting tourist or a fisherman looking to poach some tuna or turtles, you might decide to hightail it back to the mainland.

Human culture normally creates areas amenable to other humans, but to few other species. Apartment blocks, parking lots, suburbs and Starbucks are pretty great for us, but miserable, even uninhabitable, to most creatures more specialized than a pigeon. ‘Involuntary parks,’ a term coined by Next Nature favorite Bruce Sterling, arise when warfare or industrial accidents upset the normal balance of human land-use. Soldiers shoot their enemies but not the birds. Radiation warnings will keep out the evacuated citizens, but not the bears and tigers.

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Biopolitics

In Ethiopia, the Bible Grows a Forest

What are those two green dots in the dusty landscape?  Ethiopian Orthodox Christians believe in preserving forests around their churches as living symbols of Eden.  Since 95% of the country’s historical forests…

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Bionics

Policing Genes

The genetics of the plants in your garden could become a police matter. Pharmaceutical companies are experimenting with genetically engineering plants to produce useful and valuable drugs. However, the techniques employed to…

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Anthropomorphobia

Next Nature Movie #1: Quest for Fire

The Quest for Fire (1981) shows the Next Nature of 80.000 BC. Set in a world without highways, supermarkets, airports, Internet, television, farming, money or written language, the film depicts a group…

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Biopolitics

Robo-fly

Waiter, there’s a robot in my soup! Weighing only 60 milligrams, with a wingspan of three centimeters, robo-fly’s tiny movements are modeled on those of a real fly. While much work remains…

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