Earlier this year, a group of Chinese scientists published a paper about the modification of the genome of human embryos with the cutting-edge powerful technique called CRISPRs. The research arose ethical debates among scientists. Last September, Beijing Genomics Institute (BGI) has revealed another study that caused a new wave of disputes and concerns among scientists, ethicists and animal welfare organizations: they will start selling genetically engineering miniature pigs as pets.
In these modern times a traditional first aid kit won’t do anymore. As the world around us innovates, our needs in case of an emergency change as well. That’s the reason why a San Francisco-based design agency named Box Clever decided to redesign the classic emergency kit to suit the demands of life nowadays.
Save the date! Next Tuesday, June 30, Future Series, in collaboration with Dutch Design Week and de Volkskrant, will host a evening on the theme Design and Evolution. Next Nature Network director Dr. Koert van Mensvoort will lead the conversation and examine the relationship between design and evolution and how they can influence each other. Invited speakers: designer Teresa van Dongen, creator of Ambio – the Bacterial Lamp, visionary artist and filmmaker Floris Kaayk, and designer Govert Flint, known for his Dynamic Exoskeleton Chair.
It’s more than two years since I have started this exploration of the Anthropocene for Next Nature for you. We have visited many places together, places I have traveled to as a reporter, author, biologist: we have entered a graphite mine, where ancient algae are turned into high-tech gadgets, we have discovered a former military training areas that has become a neo-natural ecosystem, we have encountered plants and birds that try to live and thrive in the new geological epoch we are about to name after ourselves, the Anthropocene. The Anthropocene will not be a smooth ride, but an exciting one.
I was on my bike, cycling to Berlin’s Gleisdreieck area to attend Re:publica, Germany’s hip and cool digital culture event, when a pile of rubble caught my attention. “Gleisdreieck”, or “rail track triangle”, has in recent years become a hotspot of urban development. For decades, the area had been a kind of inner-city wilderness, an urban savannah with little formal use.
Our cells are not that different from a car engine: they depend on carbon-based fuels for energy. But using carbon for energy is an inefficient process. This is what the biotech startup BiPlastiq seeks to resolve, using solar energy instead of carbon and oxygen, by hacking our cells.
The founder of BiPlastiq, Christopher Powell believes that by hacking our mitochondrial structures to use solar energy, the power output of our bodies might increase dramatically. This upgrade could arguably transform human bodies into regenerative machines and extend human lives by decades.
What does it mean to be a bird in a world massively altered by human actions? This White-tailed Kite (Elanus leucurus), a beautiful raptor, is finding it out while hovering above Baylands Park near Palo Alto, California.
Humans have made not only the Dodo, but dozens of bird species, vanish from Earth in the past decades, through hunting, habitat destruction and the spread of cats, rats and dogs with the help of ships. Globally, 1300 out of a total of 10,000 bird species are seriously in decline. Other birds have learned to live with humans and profit from their presence.
Imagine humankind would magically disappear from the planet today. We would leave the ruins of cities, roads, cars and… plastics. Since its invention in 1907, plastic steadily worked its way into the geology of Earth. As plastics hardly break down they could survive humankind.
Artist Britt Duppen envisions that, in due time, new species might evolve that could feed on plastic. Her speculative ‘Plastivore’ bird (Latin for ‘plastic eater’, plasticio meaning ‘plastic’ or ‘food that contains particles of plastic’ and vorare meaning ‘to devour’) thrives on a diet of fungi and plastics.