Tag: On-the-Road

Manufactured Animals

The Cat Parasite that Sells Motorcycles

The protozoa Toxoplasma gondii makes an unobtrusive home in nearly every warm-blooded species, but it’s prolific life is limited: Toxo can only reproduce in cat stomachs. The parasite, which causes mild to nonexistant flu-like symptoms, has a clever trick to make sure it winds up where it wants to be. Toxo-infected rats are completely healthy but abnormally attracted to cat urine, and more active than normal. A more outgoing, less fearful rat makes an easy snack for a cat. So far, so good for the parasite’s survival strategy, but there’s a catch for us. Toxoplasma messes with human brain chemistry in much the same way as it does with rodents.

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Anthropomorphobia

Next Nature Movie #1: Quest for Fire

The Quest for Fire (1981) shows the Next Nature of 80.000 BC. Set in a world without highways, supermarkets, airports, Internet, television, farming, money or written language, the film depicts a group of Neanderthalers who are able to control fire, but cannot create it. Similar to our habit of carrying a mobile phone, these Neanderthalers consequentially wonder around with a mobile fire.

When one day their fire is tragically smothered, the three bravest men leave the tribe and set out in a quest for fire. Throughout their journey they meet with various other humanoid species, of which the most outlandish is undoubtedly the Homo Sapiens, who impress not by their size or posture but even more by their ability to domesticate their surroundings through the use of tools and technique.

While the Neanderthaler men are accustomed to a life in caves, the geeky Homo Sapiens amazes them with technological gadgets like pottery, an artificial cave created from animal skins, advanced weaponry and, most of all, their astonishing ability to create fire – which in its time was at least equally if not more impressive than any nano-, bio-, or digital technology of today.

The Quest of Fire is a honest attempt to look at the origins of the species and the development of humanity through loss, tragedy, hardship, hostile elements and the beginnings of laughter, morality, community service, leadership, friendship and of course, love. A wondrous feat of body language performances as there is no truly discernible spoken dialogue.

The film can be thought of as the first five minutes of Space Odyssey 2001 (1968) stretched up to a feature film length. Director Jean-Jacques Annaud manages to capture the essence of the human condition as ‘natural born cultural beings’. Which deepens our understanding of the ever-changing relation nature and makes us see some of the contemporary technological ‘upgrades’ in a different light.

Passed: 2001: a Space Odyssey (1968), The Gods must be Crazy (1980), Surplus – Terrorized into Being Consumers (2003).

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Biomimicmarketing

Tree Hugger

While driving on the highway, I saw a tree. Our peculiar image of the week was spotted by Arnoud van den Heuvel using the Next Nature Spotter iPhone app.

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Made-to-debate

Drive in Wheel

drive in wheel
The Drive in Wheel is an unique and spectacular giant wheel made especially for cars. The wheel is 100 feet high and takes four cars on one trip. City sightseeing has never been easier: you drive into the city center, into the wheel, view the city from above and drive out again – without ever leaving your car.

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On-the-Road

Homemade Spacecraft

Cinematographer Luke Geissbühler made a homemade spacecraft with his 5-year-old son Max, and some of Luke’s friends. The spacecraft was made from a Thai food takeout container, an HD video camera and an iPhone for GPS tracking. They launched it into the upper stratosphere using a weather balloon. This most incredible ‘homevideo’ of the project soon went viral with millions of views.

The Brooklyn Space Program is a organization formed by a group of friends in New York City interested in scientific experiments, engineering, design and education. Visit them at brooklynspaceprogram.org to get the entire uncut voyage, buy a T-shirt and support the team.

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Manufactured Animals

Follow the Leader

No birds or airliners where hurt in the making of our peculiar image of the week. The perceived mingling of the birds and the airplane is in fact an optical effect, masking the distance between them and resulting in a dreamlike image of birds and airplanes living in harmony. If only…

Photo by Darryl Morrell, via Airliners.net

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