Tag: Guided Growth


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.

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New York Preps for Climate Change by Building New Wetlands

A lot of planners give lip service to preparing for higher seas, stronger storms, and hotter summers, but in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, New York is putting its money where its mouth is. The city is considering creating new land in the East River, or constructing Dutch-style floodgates to hold back storms. From a next nature perspective, however, the most interesting proposal is the East River Blueway.

In an effort that restores some of the primeval feel of what was once the lush island of Mannahatta, the Blueway aims to create a series of wetlands and beaches that would absorb the tidal surges from future hurricanes. Lest this sound like another utopian vision, the city has already raised $8 million to revitalize a 4-mile stretch on Manhattan’s east side, and plans to grow a similar “soft edge” at Coney Island. Now that New York no longer needs its waterfront for industry or shipping, it might be time to let (artificial) nature return.

Story via Gizmodo. Picture via Inhabitat.

Rachel Armstrong
Guided Growth

Interview: Rachel Armstrong, Innovative Scientist Who Wants to Grow Architecture

The next guest in our interview series is Dr. Rachel Armstrong, interdisciplinary practitioner and sustainability innovator. Armstrong’s work uses all manners of media to engage audiences and bring them into contact with the latest advances in science and their real potential through the inventive applications of technology, to address some of the biggest problems facing the world today. She designs solutions for the built and natural environment using advanced new technologies and smart chemistry.

You may know Armstrong from her essay Self-Repairing Architecture and her research in living architecture and protocell technology, a new material that possess some of the properties of living systems and can be manipulated to grow architecture.

We recently talked with Rachel Armstrong about living buildings, Venice’s foundations, millennial nature and how to improve our future.

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How to Grow a Beer Bottle

Over the years we have seen quite a few growing bottles, ranging from the classic Orangina bottle, to a bottle you can peel like a piece of fruit, to growing Heinz ketchup bottles. Yet, arguably, this growing beer bottle is the weirdest we have seen so far.

Apparently the biomimic-marketeers wanted to promote an all natural beer, so they envisioned a futuristic scenario in which beer bottles grow straight from the hop plants. Although any sufficiently technology will be indistinguishable from nature, we doubt that we will still drink beer from bottles by the time we are capable of such advanced guided growth. It is interesting, still, that a so-called natural beer is now marketed by portraying an utterly technological process.

Thanks to Alice for the heads-up.

Leeches are the new beauty
Guided Growth

Engineering Beneficial Parasites

Toxoplasma gondii is a parasite that causes rats to become less afraid of cats. It also might change the behavior of humans, making women more outgoing and warmhearted, while men get jealous and suspicious. Toxoplasma gondii is shed in cat feces, which get eaten by rats. Infected rats become fearless to cats and then get caught easily, thus completing the parasite’s cycle through its different hosts. If a parasite can make you feel friendly, what other unusual benefits might they have?

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Sitting on Tofu

Tofu is a soy-based food typical of Asian cuisine, rich in protein, known and appreciated especially by vegetarians and vegans. We already know this. What we didn’t know is that, if dehydrated, tofu also becomes a good material to build furniture. 

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Burned Microchip

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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Micro'be dress

Grow Your Clothing with Microorganisms

Clothing can be made out of more than just woven fabrics or synthetic fibers. Lady Gaga proved this with her infamous raw beef dress. But the meat dress is not the only piece of organic garment out there.

Artist Donna Franklin and scientist Gary Cass have designed Micro’be, a fashion line consisting of clothing made from microorganisms. Where conventional clothing is woven in parts and stitched together, Micro’be consists of one seamless piece. The clothes are made from wine, and with the addition of the bacteria Acetobacter, the wine is fermented into vinegar. The by-product of this fermentation is cellulose, which is in turn used to grow the garment. The color of the fabric is determined by which wine is used. Red wine gives a red fabric, while white wine (and even beer) gives a translucent material.