Tag: Designed-by-Evolution


The Six Epochs of Evolution

Monday afternoon, feeling a a bit jaded? Buckle up for a delightful cinematic espresso shot from Jason Silva (*) on the six epochs of evolution.

* Warning: Video essays from Mr. Silva may cause rushes of Techno-utopism.

Carnivorous Plants

Carnivorous Plants Turn Vegetarian

Carnivorous plants are among the more unique plant species in nature. Through evolution plants like the Venus Flytrap have developed mechanisms to capture small animals (usually insects) from which they take nutrients. But pollution is making some of these plant species change their diet.

Most carnivorous plants trap animals because the soil does not contain enough nutrients like nitrogen. These plants get 57% of their nitrogen intake from animals. Because of pollution caused by industry and transport plants in polluted areas are able to get more nitrogen from rainfall and this reduced their nitrogen intake from animals to 22%.

The change in diet actually changed the appearance of the plants themselves. Their leaves lose some of their stickiness and the plants in polluted areas also started changing their colour. Will extended pollution cause these plants to turn to a fully vegetarian diet? More about the subject can be found in this article by Tom Marshall.

Do you want to know more about the future of meat? We are writing a speculative cookbook of in-vitro meat dishes, join us on www.bistro-invitro.com.


Paradise Reset

Interview with our own Koert van Mensvoort in the IKON Television Documentary ‘Paradise Reset’ on the future of human nature. Watch the entire documentary here.

Do you want to know more about the future of meat? We are writing a speculative cookbook of in-vitro meat dishes, join us on www.bistro-invitro.com.

biomech 03 1998_03_INSIDE

Protocell Shoe Mends Itself

The self-repairing sole is a dynamic solution to an everyday problem.

The ‘proto-sole’ is suitable for all footwear ranging from mainstream consumer trainers to haute couture footwear. It consists of a fluid reservoir, like a bubble, which is situated in the heel of the shoe, where the ingredients to make the active agents ‘protocells’ are pumped by the foot and mixed on demand as they leave the storage vessel. The newly formed protocells move through the spongy sole of the shoe where they are delivered to and activated at sites of wear and tear.

Protocells are a form of organic hardware that is not technically ‘alive’ since they do not possess any DNA. Yet they are capable of life-like behaviour that draws from the self-organizing potential of their ingredients. In keeping with Stuart Kauffman’s notion of ‘order for free,’ the protocells are equipped with remarkable, emergent properties such as, movement, sensitivity and the production of microstructures.

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Army Protected Organic Foods

Over the last few decades, the public has been – and still is – creating awareness on the values of organically produced foods. For many foodies an important value of organic foods is the pure production process, without synthetic pesticides and chemical fertilizers.

The food industry tries to capitalize on this by increasing their yield in other ways. To minimize crop losses and thus maximize revenues, they have started to engineer killer bugs. These bugs are programmed to act as pesticides, eating and killing insects to protect the crops.

However, an ethical question arises. Are we now relocating the chemical process of crop preservation from the crops themselves to the insects? Is it better to modify and “enhance” these bugs, so the issue shifts from the crops to a new species and thus an altered ecosystem?

Via Businessweek. Illustration by Gerald Leung.

diatom circle

Nanotech Diatoms

No, those aren’t plastic trinkets or beads from a craft store. They’re diatoms, a group of single-celled algae, and unlike almost all of our current technologies, they can rapidly and reliably synthesize  nanoscale structures. Diatoms produce incredibly complex silica shells that are riddled with a regular pattern of pores. As can be seen above, diatoms come in an incredible variety of shapes – around 100,000 species in all. Strong, easy and quick-growing, and virtually unlimited, diatoms are drawing the attention of scientists who are interested in nanotechnology.

As with many nanotechnologies, research into the use of diatoms is in its infancy. These microscopic algae have been studied for their ability of synthesize novel electrical devices, including new ways to detect pollution. A chemical process that converts their silica shells into silicon creates ready-made nano electronics. Since biologically active molecules attach to the pores in their shells, they may eventually function as a “lab on a chip” for detecting antibodies, traces of diseases, and other chemicals in the body. Diatoms also show promise in the fields of optics. Solar energy cells with diatom-based coatings capture three times more electrons that standard coatings. Genetic manipulation might refine the diatom’s natural precision engineering to create bespoke parts for nanosensors and nanoscale machines from diatoms. Further proof that guided growth is the future of manufacturing.


Power, Water and Shelter from Giant Mushrooms?

In his (fictional!) documentary, designer and artist Tobias Revell sketches the city of New Mumbai powered by giant mushrooms. These genetically-engineered fungal organisms provide a new type of infrastructure – providing heat, light and building material.

The documentary shows how the mushrooms grow quickly and begin to harvest the sun, creating energy that provides heat and lighting, like an organic solar panel. They can even be engineered to power a whole building. Some grow strong enough to be used as shelter, parts of building structures, and surfaces to grow local crops.

The mushrooms’ benefits expand even further as the clever residents of the Dharavi Mumbai slums discover new features. Their porous surfaces also absorb water from the seasonal downpours, which can be collected and used for drinking and bathing.

nanotechnology water bottle

Nanotech Water Bottle Harvests Water from the Air

The Namib desert gets less than a half an inch of rain per year, yet the stenocara beetle manages to survive in these punishing conditions. The beetle’s secret lies in an array of microscopic bumps and valleys on its shell. The bumps are hydrophilic (water-attracting) and the valleys are hydrophobic (water-repelling). During foggy days, tiny water droplets accumulate on the hydrophilic bumps. Once a droplet is big enough, it tumbles off the bump down into a hydrophobic trough, which funnels the water to the beetle’s mouth. Now, a company called NBD Nano is hoping to mimic stenocara’s shell to create the world’s first self-filling water bottles.

NBD Nano co-founder Deckard Sorenson says that “We see this being applicable to anything from marathon runners to people in third-world countries, because we realize that water is such a large issue in the world today, and we want to try to alleviate those problems with a cost-efficient solution.” According to him, this technology could harvest three liters per square meter per hour in an area with 75% humidity. Unfortunately, the self-filling water bottle is still years from being realized, if ever. For those of you who are impatient for a solution to the world’s water crisis, GrabCAD is holding a contest to design devices that harvest water from the air.

Story via BoingBoing. Image via GrabCAD.

Augmented Bodies

Spider-Man Gloves

Imagine how much easier the job of window cleaners would be if they could simply scale walls like Spider-Man instead of using elevators, ladders and other gear. Ever since the first Spider-Man comic appeared children and adults alike have been dreaming of these particular talents. Thanks to “gecko-tape”, these dreams are no longer  science fiction. Luckily, this new method of scaling walls doesn’t involve being bit by a radioactive spider.

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