Join the Bio Art & Design Awards
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 research group to turn your vision into reality? We have cake for you.
A battle is underway between designers and engineers; at stake is the design of our technological future. It rages subtly like a moorland fire. Koert van Mensvoort adds fuel to the flames, but also offers a solution. The impact of new technology on our lives is hard to overestimate. Read more
Next Natural Goats Adapt to Climb Trees
We learned from the natural world that squirrels and birds live in trees and that goats stay on the ground… but not in next nature! These acrobatic goats, found in Morocco, have become adept at climbing Argan trees in search of food, showing us a great example of their intelligence and adaptability.
Chrysler Looks to Human Lungs for a Better Gas Tank
Alveoli in human lungs serve as the inspiration for designing better, stronger ways of storing compressed natural gas.
When Is Biomimicry Not Really Biomimicry?
Recently the internet has become fascinated with a fruit fly found in the United Arab Emirates whose wings appear to have an ornate pattern deliberately resembling an ant-like insect. With some experts confirming that the pattern indeed represents an ant, the image has been explained in a different light by Morgan D. Jackson, an entomology student at the University of Guelph in Canada.
Buckle up for Black Sky Thinking
So you might have heard about the Technological Singularity, but did you ever wonder what happens after the fact? Black Sky thinking is a term that is being developed to shape an approach for dealing with unfamiliar territories – both real and conceptual.
Black Sky thinking seeks to understand more about our situation without prejudging or even needing to know the future. It travels into the unknown, not as a reckless gesture but as a creative act, so that we may envision the world we wish to inhabit. This does not mean that anything goes, but rather, signals a fresh exploration of things we thought we knew, so that we can look and imagine afresh.
The Insect with Natural Mechanical Gears
At first glance the picture might look like the delicate gear wheel from an old Swiss watch, but it is actually the first and only mechanical gear ever found in nature. It belongs to a three-millimeter-long hopping insect, known as Issus Coleoptratus. The gears are located at the top of the insects’ hind legs and include 10 to 12 tapered teeth, allowing the insect to jump forward.
Moving From Password to Biometric Data
If Apple is right we are making strides towards a future without passwords. We’ll only need our biometric data to access to our personal devices, services and websites, for instance using our fingerprints. It seems like we are going to identify ourselves with technology every day more.
Interview: Arne Hendriks, Researcher and “Father” of The Incredible Shrinking Man
The next guest in our interview series is Arne Hendriks, Dutch artist, exhibition maker, researcher and historian. He teaches at the Next Nature Lab of the Technical University in Eindhoven, Netherlands.
Hendriks’s activity explores the positive transformative power of creative impulses and the importance of fundamental free scientific research. In his speculative design research, the strange and the familiar continuously swap places to provoke conflicting perspectives.
His investigation The Incredible Shrinking Man, that proposes to reduce the human species to a height of 50 cm, where individuals would only need about 2% of what is consumed today, is nominated for the Dutch Design Award, in the category Future Concept – competing with the NANO Supermarket, among others.
Waiting for the winners announce, in late October, we talked with Arne Hendriks about the possible benefits of shrinking, technology, trust and a thorny issues for which he asked for our readers advice.
Artifice Earth: Adam Rutherford on the Promises of Synthetic Biology
In the basement recording studio of the journal Nature scientist and broadcaster Adam Rutherford sat down with speculative architect Liam Young to discuss the mythical beasts of synthetic biology. Rutherford recently worked with the BBC on a series called the ‘Gene Code’ which explored the consequences of decoding the human genome. Recognizing the potential externalities of communicating science poorly, Rutherford works at conveying the poorly understood field of synthetic biology to a broader audience.
Oranges Are Going Extinct – Unless a Gene from Spinach Can Help
The apocalypse is on its way – at least for oranges. Citrus greening, a disease that kills citrus trees and makes their fruit green, shrunken and inedibly bitter, is racing across the globe. The disease, which is transmitted from tree to tree by a tiny insect called a psyllid, was first reported in China in 1943. Since then, it’s spread across the globe, finally making its way to Florida’s famous orange groves in 2005.
There is no known cure. A worldwide search failed to turn up a naturally immune tree. Measures like burning infected trees and dousing the psyllids with insecticide slow but do not stop the disease. With such seemingly bleak odds, does this mean the end of oranges, lemons and grapefruits?