Tag: Hypernature

Artificial Womb
Biomimicry

The Birth of the Artificial Womb

Scientists at Juntendo University in Tokyo have developed a practice called EUFI, extrauterine fetal incubation. In EUFI, the researchers take goat fetuses, thread catheters through the large vessels in the umbilical cord and supply the fetuses with oxygenated blood while suspending them in incubators that contain artificial amniotic fluid heated to body temperature.

It may seem that Aldous Huxley’s words from Brave New World have come to life: “One by one the eggs were transferred from their test-tubes to the larger containers; deftly the peritoneal lining was slit, the morula dropped into place, the saline solution poured . . . and already the bottle had passed on through an opening in the wall, slowly on into the Social Predestination Room”.

Find more on Before It’s News.

MeatFlower__530
Food Technology

Care for a Meat Flower Amuse?

While vegetarian food products typically mimic existing meat products, the meat flower reverses this principle: In vitro technology is used to grow meat in the shape of a flower.

The Meat Flower is illustrative for the diminishing of borders between ‘meat’ and ‘vegetarian’ due to emerging technology: although the cultured meat is grown from animal cells, no animals are hurt and injured in the process.

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Diagram of the steps in making in vitro meat
Food Technology

Grossed Out by Lab-Grown Meat? Here’s 7 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Be

Many people find the idea of eating in vitro meat – animal muscle tissue grown in a lab – to be creepy, unnatural or downright disgusting. Maybe it’s the association with medical science, or maybe it’s the fact that a happy cow in a grassy meadow seems far more friendly that something scraped from a bioreactor. It turns out, however, that in vitro meat is a lot less unnatural than we think it is, and that “normal” food is far more bizarre than it seems. Here’s the top seven reasons why you shouldn’t be grossed out by lab-grown meat:

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beef tree ready for the grill
Food Technology

The Woods Smell of Meat

A team of plaid-clad butchers have spotted a mature meat tree deep within the bacon-scented woods. Armed with hatchets and bone saws, the men chop the tree into logs. Back at the slaughter-mill, a quick bath in scalding water removes the tree’s dense layer of fur. Its bark is cured for leather. Its central supporting bone is cleaned and shipped out for use in construction and plumbing. The meat tree, however, is most prized for its succulent flesh. Meat tree logs can be seen rotating in the windows of many shawarma and döner kebab cafes. In the image above, a bûche de Noël has been sliced into bone-in ribeye steaks for a delicious, sustainable holiday dinner.

Image via Vancouver Fine Arts.

thumb sucking human fetus
Anthropomorphobia

How to Turn Skin Cells into a Baby

A Japanese biologist, Katsuhiko Hayashi, has managed to create both sperm and egg cells from stem cells in mice.  Not only that, but Hayashi was even able to produce a viable baby mouse using these same stem cells. His research may have far-reaching consequences for human fertility, one of which would be that two men or two women could make a biological baby together.

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Hypernature

Andras Forgacs on Victimless Leather

At the end of his TED talk, tissue engineer and entrepreneur Andras Forgacs receives presumably the very first standing ovation on the TED stage for a speaker arguing that lab grown meat and leather is a civilized way to move beyond slaughtering animals for hamburgers and handbags.

Forgacs is the co-founder and CEO of Modern Meadow, a company developing novel biomaterials. These include cultured meat and leather which, as they put it, “will require no animal slaughter and much lower inputs of land, water, energy and chemicals”.

According to Forgacs, bioengineered victimless leather is a gateway towards the acceptance of bioengineering meat. Could be, yet before we can decide if we will ever be willing to eat bioengineered meat, we need to explore the food culture it will bring us.

arne_hendriks_portrait_s
Hypernature

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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artificial life
Biomimicry

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.

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Knitted Meat
Meat the Future

Seven Future Visions on In-Vitro Meat

With today’s presentation of the first lab grown hamburger by Prof. Mark Post, in-vitro meat makes an important step towards our daily diet. Cultured meat could one day be a sustainable and animal friendly alternative to today’s meat production. Yet, despite this technological breakthrough, many people still find it is an unattractive idea to eat meat from the lab. Before we can decide if we will ever be willing to eat in-vitro, we need to explore the food culture it will bring us.

While most of the ongoing research focuses on duplicating current meat products (like hamburgers) and making the cultured beef affordable, sustainable and tasty, the envisioning of new meat products that fit this new technology is equally important. Just like industrial manufacturing brought us new furniture, in-vitro meat technology may lead to entirely new food products, beyond todays sausages, steaks and burgers.

Besides a Hamburger, What Else?

Although cultured meat is typically presented as a technology to solve problems like animal suffering, food scarcity and climate issues, the technology could also be framed positively: Eating in-vitro could bring us entirely new food experiences and eating habits that may enrich our lives.

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