Tag: Biopolitics


Join the Designers & Artists 4 Genomics Award

So, you are well aware that biotech will drive our evolution, you took the crash course on synthetic genomics, you’ve got your map of the DNA world in your backpack and are now eager to redesign some microbes that turn waste into energy, eat plastic, detect flu, or build a better being altogether? You have a brilliant project plan already, but only need some – let say– euro 25.000 and a bit of help from a genomic center to turn your vision into reality? We have cake for you.

The Designers & Artists 4 Genomics Award (DA4GA) aims to explore the hybrid practice between design, art and genomics on contemporary society. If you are graduated no longer than five years ago you are eligible to submit a project plan and take a chance on winning a euro 25.000,- to realize you project in collaboration with one of the participating Genomic centers.

If we are going to mutate the made & the born, let us at least do this creatively. The application deadline is September 8th 2010.


Craig Venter unveils ‘Synthetic Life’

Craig Venter announces what might be a historic milestone in the nature caused by people. For 15 years, Craig Venter and his team of scientists have tried to synthesize life from scratch. This week, he publicized their success.

A chromosome was designed in digital code on the computer and then transplanted into a bacterial cell, transforming that cell into a new bacterial species. Apart from the usual blueprint for proteins, the DNA also carried the names of the key contributors and even its own email address.

“This is the first self-replicating species on the planet, whose parent is a computer”

Venter already mentions some potential practical applications for his discovery: a vaccine for HIV and a new strain of algae that can significantly decrease CO2-levels and provide a source for gasoline.

Though great things can be done with this new technique, it also raises a lot of questions. Is man now some kind of god? Will we be able to design our own pets? Will we save our mp3-files on a flower instead of a USB-stick?


ECO Currency – A Proposal to Balance Economical and Environmental Value

Imagine we would have an alternative monetary currency for environmental value. Would the rain forest still be destroyed if there existed an ECO–currency to express its value and pay farmers to let the trees stand? Designers of the Next Nature Lab are investigating how we can link economy with ecology. A proposal on how we can link economy with ecology.

The starting point of the ECO–currency(*) project is the hypothesis that an important factor in the ongoing environmental crisis is the disconnect between the economical ecology and the environmental ecology. With the latter we mean the ecology of plants, trees, animals, and other organic material. Whereas the economical ecology is defined by our financial system of market, money, goods and other economical exchange. Our second working hypothesis states that we could address environmental issues by linking the economical sphere and the environmental sphere in a better way than that is currently the case.

Comparing the two ecologies: The rain forest is a stable, self-sustainable and threatened ecosystem, whereas the financial system is a unstable and threatening ecosystem that feeds on the biosphere.

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Europe airspace reboot

After a ban on flying last weeks due to the volcanic eruption in Iceland, the European airspace was slowly rebooting to its old state of activity. This movie shows the movement of planes over time and shows how the activity grows.

Via Infosthetics


Nine Strategies of Geo-engineering

Recently some scientists in Britain have recommend planetary ‘geoengineering‘ to avoid climate change. And as politicians are listening, it is time to explore the options. New Scientist published this rather lovely diagram of the effectiveness and viability of nine different geoengineering schemes, from space mirrors to planting reflective crops.

Although geoengineering might be a viable escape from an overheated planet, before we dive in the game of deliberately manipulating the Earth’s climate to counteract the effects of global warming, let us realize that maakbaarheid is never finished: Every cultivation of nature typically causes the rising of a next nature that is wild and unpredictable as ever. Just like the inventor of the fridge did not anticipate a hole in the ozon layer, we should be bracing ourselves for some serious side effects of geoengineering.

Perhaps rather than desperately attempting to stop all changes in the climate, we should as a culture gain more of a flexibility towards a constantly mutating environment. After all, change happens.


Biomimic Propaganda

The symbolic power of animals has always appealed to people. There are numerous examples throughout human history where representations of animals play a significant role in the cycle in which meanings are determined: from the animal-gods of the ancient egyptians via the lamb of god to more recent examples like Mickey Mouse and the eagle – a symbol of power in both the USA and nazi Germany.

The American Eagle and the Nazi Adler, here both featured on a coin.

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Immune Systems

Quite a multi-layeredness of the artificially strengthened immune systems they have in place at the Thai border. Microbes and terrorist: hand in your passport. Peculiar image of the week.


Dolphin fitted with prosthetic fin

Tyre manufacturing company has come to the rescue of Fuji the dolphin who was stricken by a mysterious life threatening illness and lost her fin. She caught a disease that begun gradually rotting her tail and her tail had to be amputated to save her life.

For awhile the now 37-year old Fuji survived without a fin, but her lack of exercise and weight gain proved problematic. A friend of the handler’s working at one of Japan’s leading tyre makers, Bridgestone Corp, offered to make them an artificial tail fin for Fuji, the first of its kind in the world. The result was a tail fin 30 centimetres in length and 70 centimetres wide, a bit smaller than the tail of a healthy dolphin of Fuji’s size.


Moscow won’t let it snow

Already in the early days of modern civilization, people claimed that they could control the weather. A known example from recent history are the rituals that American Indians used to induce rain.

Nowadays, many people still tend to regard these stories as fairy-tales and consider controlling the weather impossible. In Moscow though, the mayor recently proposed a snow-free city. It proves that several countries, including the People’s Republic of China, USA and Russia, are modifying precipitation for several decades. In Russia, it is common practice to engineer dry days on public holidays and special events in Moscow.

Moscow’s plan is to disperse a mixture of silver iodide, liquid nitrogen and cement powder into clouds to trigger precipitation. This ensures that snow is banned from Moscow’s city centre, but results in a regional climate change in the areas just outside Moscow where the clouds empty their load. You can imagine the consequences…

Related: Hurricane control causes storm of lawsuits, Fight climate change: Hack the planet, China controls weather for olympics.


Do It Yourself Pet

Image: A. Sidorov

Have you ever fantasized about creatures which carry the biggest smile? Or creatures which are so deeply covered with fur that you wish they were real? Good news, soon you’ll be able to watch your favorite animal become alive!

While the average consumer is still happy with laser printer technologies the first 3D printer which uses organic materials is on its way. Currently we already manage to print cell structures of about 2 inches high. Once finished these devices will be used for noble purposes like printing organs, victimless meat or other food. However, the real fun starts some years later, when they are cheap enough to buy one yourself.

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