Tag: Designed-by-Evolution

Biomimicry

Toss the Brita: Bacteria Can Filter Antibiotics from Water

We use antibiotics for medical treatment, but the presence of antibiotics in drinking water is harmful to us and to our environment. Currently, activated carbon is used to filter out harmful antibiotics, but the effect is not perfect. A team at the University of Cincinnati has now developed and tested a new filter made of two bacterial proteins which can remove almost twice as much antibiotics as activated carbon, using only water and direct sunlight.

Compared with activated carbon filters, the bacterial protein system offers several improvements. Firstly, the new protein filter can selectively absorb antibiotics. It employs a protein pump called AcrB, a selective “garbage disposal” for the bacteria that cannot get clogged with organic matter. Secondly, direct sunlight powers the bacterial protein system. A light-driven bacterial protein called Delta-rhodopsin supplies power for the AcrB. Moreover, these bacteria can even be used to extract antibiotics for recycling, and may even eventually be used to filter our heavy metals and hormones.

Story via Phys.org and Nano Letters

Catalysts of Evolution

Let’s Build a Garden on Mars

Typically the impact of humanity on plant life is not always positive: Deforestation, decrease of diversity, soil pollution. Doom and gloom are all around. Hence, our delight to learn there are also people dedicating their time and energy to the expansion of plant life. Surely if they do it in such remarkable ways.

Astrobiologist Dr. Louisa Preston and Designer Vanessa Harden propose to build a garden on Mars. Thats not easy. One would need a gardening robot, fitted plant species and some kind of dome structure for the plants to grow in. These two young women now started a kickstarter campaign to realize their project.

Arguably, we owe it to our fellow carbon bases plant species, to employ our space rockets to their benefit, helping them to inhabit new worlds. Additionally, the astro plants may also provide human space travelers in their nutritious needs.

Go to the kickstarter campaign.

Designed-by-Evolution

The Prefuture of Synthetic Biology

Somewhere between a vat of expensive face cream and a baby Neanderthal lies a probable future for synthetic biology. While synbio start-ups – large and small – struggle with the reality of scaling up microscopic cellular factories into profitable business models, stories of DIY anti-cancer research, Neanderthal cloning, limitless ‘green’ kerosene, and tumor-killing bacteria are told as outcomes of a likely future where humans have full control over biology.

Over the last decade, many diverse interests have contributed to this ambition of an easy-to-manipulate biology, as the field of synthetic biology has spread around research labs all over the world. Scientists, engineers, policymakers, industrialists, space agencies, politicians, and even designers are constructing a future defined by the grand rhetoric of a world-changing, world-saving technology.

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Anthropocene

Nature through the Windshield

For more than eight years artist Koert van Mensvoort has been working on a project to redefine our concept of nature. Through his platform Next Nature he has published books, held talks, ran workshops, maintained an active blog, and even developed a hoax, all in effort to communicate that there is no absolute nature, but that technology and nature are deeply intertwined; a biosynthetic nature so to speak. Can the development of a Gillette razor be considered in Darwinian terms of evolution? Is the fake nature of an indoor ski slope any less legitimate than the Alps? By fundamentally shifting the way we conceive nature, he believes we will be better able to cope with the oncoming climatic and environmental challenges ahead.

This interview is reprinted from Volume magazine #35: Everything Under Control.

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Biocustomization

Lets Grow a Glowing Plant

Four years ago we wrote about a vision to create bioluminescent trees that would replace streetlights. This dream is getting just a little bit closer, now that a team of Stanford trained synthetic biologists led by Antony Evans launched a Kickstarter campaign to grow glowing plants.

Using Genome Compiler software, the team is ready to input bio-luminescence genes into a mustard plant and have it be naturally glowing. Natural lighting with no electricity. Hypernature ahoy!

Designed-by-Evolution

Evolving Soft Robots

With four types of different building blocks – soft and hard tissues and two types of muscles – scientistic simulated evolution, with the one rule for success that the fastest robots create more offspring. Do you remember when you first got out of the ocean, brushed the water off your fins and tried your first steps? Aww. It’s a parade of puffing creatures you can not miss.

Via Motherboard

Wild Systems

Computer Algorithms Are Already Replacing Human Journalists

Did an algorithm write this blog post? If it did, you’d likely never know it. Chicago-based Narrative Science is producing smart software that writes stories for parents of Little Leaguers all the way on up to media giants like Forbes. You might expect stilted, formulaic prose from a robot, but the result is surprisingly lively:

“Friona fell 10-8 to Boys Ranch in five innings on Monday at Friona despite racking up seven hits and eight runs. Friona was led by a flawless day at the dish by Hunter Sundre, who went 2-2 against Boys Ranch pitching. Sundre singled in the third inning and tripled in the fourth inning … Friona piled up the steals, swiping eight bags in all …”

Kristian Hammond, cofounder of Narrative Science, predicts that in 15 years, 90% of all news will be auto-generated in this manner. The company’s software may someday be programmed to spit out snark, wry commentary, or philosophical reflections on the effable beauty of a spring day. As Big Data mines every minute aspect of our lives, the time is ripe for a writer – human or otherwise – to transform these reams of data into stories.

Read more about Narrative Science at Wired.

Biomimicmarketing

Next Nature saves Old Nature

Who would have thought synthetic organisms would ever be employed to save endangered species? Conservation biologist worried about the extinction of exotic frog populations are calling the help of synthetic biologists to avoid disaster.

Currently, a fungus epidemics with the eerie name batrachochytrium dendrobatidis threatens more than 2,800 amphibian species. The depicted Panamanian golden frog has already been pushed close to extinction by fungal disease, but conservationists believe the tragedy could be countered by a new generation of synthetically manipulated organisms.

“We face the prospect of losing a great deal from the natural world and we have to think of solutions that could be generated by all sorts of different techniques, including those involved in synthetic biology.” conservation biologist Kent Redford told the Guardian.

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Augmented-Bodies

Did Booze Make Us Modern?

Psychiatrist Jeffrey P. Kahn believes that beer, far from being an agent of late-night chaos and early morning regrets, is what gave our ancestors modern civilization. Beer, he writes, triggered the leap from rule-bound hunter-gather groups into the creative, complex societies we’ve been enjoying for the last 10,000 years. Is there some truth in this statement, or is it no more solid than a foamy head of ale?

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