Tag: Designed-by-Evolution

citrus greening
Food Technology

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?

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self made robot
Anthropomorphobia

Homemade Robot Designed from Recycled Scraps

Chinese inventor Tao Xiangli manufactured a robot in the yard of his house in Beijing. He spent almost a year and about 150,000 Yuan, corresponding to $24,500 dollars, to build the robot. His “newborn” is 6.8 feet tall and around 529 pounds in weight. It is made out of recycled scrap metals and electric wires bought from a second-hand market. The question is: what is he going to do with it?

Source NBC News

Anthropomorphobia

We are already Cyborgs

Buckle up for another cinematic espresso shot from our favorite performance philosopher Jason Silva, who recently also appeared on the wonderful London Real.
If you care for a longer version of the ‘We are already Cyborg’ argument check out Amber Chase.

Ecobot III
Designed-by-Evolution

EcoBot III: a Robot that Produces Energy Fueled by Organic Matter

There are robots that look like people, and then there are robots, like the Ecobot III, that look nothing like humans but have our same biological needs: they have to eat, digest and excrete. The EcoBot III is a product of the partnership between scientists at Wessex Water and the Bristol Robotics Laboratory. This robot works in a sewage treatment system and feeds off sewage, with an artificial stomach made ??up of fuel cells that run on human waste.

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Bionic Protein
Augmented-Bodies

Researcher Create Fully Artificial Proteins

Though not yet as functional as biological proteins, these artificial proteins created by physicists at the University of Vienna are the first versatile and modular examples of a fully artificial protein. Their method involves the self-assembly of simple particles into polymer chains. By controlling the interaction between the beginning and end of the polymer chain they are able to “lock” the folded end result.

Proteins are the molecular machines that form the building blocks of all living organisms, and underlie complex bio-molecular processes within our bodies. From muscle contraction to DNA replication, proteins are involved in uncountable biological activities. This research presents a foundation on which novel applications can be built, from material sciences to new forms of drug delivery. One day, these bionic proteins might very well be integrated into our own biology.

Via Medienportal

Scientists Engineer Cancer Fighting Purple Tomatoes
Designed-by-Evolution

Purple GM Tomatoes Prevent Cancer

Normally, when we select for characteristics in fruits and vegetables, it’s to bring them closer to some modernist ideal: corn that’s sweeter, lettuce that’s crisper, cucumbers that are perfectly green and straight. However, a new strain of tomato out of the UK may soon topple the spherical red fruit from its iconic position. These purple GM tomatoes owe their unusual hue to a dark purple-blue pigment called anthocynanin. Not only does this antioxidant double the shelf life of tomatoes in the supermarkt, it also extends the lives of mice that are genetically predisposed to cancer. A tomato that cuts down on food waste and the incidence of cancer? Even if pasta and pizza will never look the same, maybe it’s time to pass the purple.

Via John Innes Centre. Photo via Natural Eater.
Thanks to Peter Klomp for the heads up!

Burned Microchip
Designed-by-Evolution

Microchips Learn to Repair Themselves

Right now, one of the reasons that robots and other artificially intelligent devices cannot qualify as living beings is their inability to self-repair. However, a recent breakthrough from the Caltech High-Speed Integrated Circuits laboratory have brought us one step closer to the reality of machines that can cure themselves after being damaged.

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http://phys.org/news/2013-04-team-solar-powered-proteins-filter-antibiotics.html
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.