“The Observer is to host a stage at a brand new festival – Bluedot – in July. Taking place at the Jodrell Bank observatory in Cheshire, Bluedot is a three-day festival of discovery that aims to fuse a complex mix of music, artists, speakers, scientists and performers into a unique event.
The arts and science programme will be led by Brian Eno, who has created a new installation, Zenith, specifically for Bluedot, which will project on to the Lovell Telescope and interact with the data gathered by the telescope over the weekend. ”
“Pharmaceutical companies typically develop new drugs with thousands of staff and budgets that run into the billions of dollars. One estimate puts the cost of bringing a new drug to market at $2.6 billion with others suggesting that it could be double that cost at $5 billion.
One man, Professor Atul Butte director of the University of California Institute of Computational Health Sciences, believes that like other Silicon Valley startups, almost anyone can bring a drug to market from their garage with just a computer, the internet, and freely available data.In a talk given at the Science on the Swan conference held in Perth this week, Professor Butte outlined the process for an audience of local and international scientists and medics.”
“On a crowded stretch of Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn, on the seventh floor of a building gentrification forgot, is a place where you can dabble in genetic engineering. Genspace, a kind of co-working lab for scientists, offers a fully equipped research laboratory available for public use for a modest monthly fee.
It was the first of its kind to open its doors back in 2010 and signaled the rebirth of the gentleman (or gentlewoman) scientist. Since then, BioCurious, another DIY lab, has opened in Silicon Valley, allowing hobbyist biologists to fiddle with their own DNA and titrate their own blood samples. A number of startups like Bento Lab have popped up to serve the DIY Bio movement, making compact desktop versions of traditional biology lab equipment small enough to set up anywhere at home.”
“The Wilson Center’s Synthetic Biology Project has released a short documentary on the growth of the do-it-yourself biology (DIYbio) movement as seen through a community DIYbio lab in Baltimore, Maryland.
The Rise of Do-It-Yourself Biology: A Look at the Baltimore Underground Science Space (BUGSS) explores the work of BUGSS, a fast-growing community lab on the east side of Baltimore, Maryland. BUGSS grew out of a group of interested students and professors at a local community college and now offers courses, lectures and the ability to experiment with biotechnology, from building microorganisms to modifying 3D printers.
In addition to providing an inside look at the BUGSS lab, the film explores the issues surrounding DIYbio community labs in general, including how they secure funding, where they find their equipment, and how they address concerns about biosafety.”
“You read that right. Austrian designers Katharina Unger and Julia Kaisinger have developed a device that turns polymer waste into edible mushrooms in collaboration with researchers from Utrecht University in the Netherlands. Dinner is served!
Take a few seconds to have a look around and count how many items near you have plastic components. From your laptop to the chair you are on or the frame of the window in from of you, …
Plastic makes the world go round. It’s cheap, it’s malleable, it’s versatile and it only has a tiny con: it’s terrible to naturally break down. Many approaches have tried to address this major concern, but none of those lines of attack look as tasty as this approach!”
“Moon Ribas might just be the most normal looking cyborg you’ll meet. Unlike the contingent of extreme biohackers or “grinders,” the 30-year old Spanish avant-garde artist’s superpower—or self-imposed aberration—is not immediately obvious. Ribas has a tiny magnet near the crook of her elbow that allows her to feel all tremors and earthquakes anywhere on earth, in real time.
Like her longtime artistic partner Neil Harbisson, who has a color-sensing antenna permanently attached to his cranium, Ribas says the external physical change is not the point of being a cyborg. “I modified my body, to modify my mind,” says Ribas. As you can see in the video above, she translates the tremors she feels in her arm into dance movements.
But why the need for the surgically-implanted body hack?
“I want to perceive movement in a deeper way, “ explains Ribas, a choreographer who studied movement at Dartington College in London. “The planet moves, constantly shaking and moving everyday. I thought it would be amazing to translate the massive and natural movements of the planet in a different way.”
“A Canadian company is trying to make it possible for anyone to be a “biohacker” and make custom genetically modified organisms in their home kitchen.
Homemade GMOs may sound scary to some, but Toronto-based Synbiota thinks making genetic engineering technology available to ordinary people will lead to new products that we haven’t yet dreamed of.
But are things really so simple? Is that a technology we really can give to anyone? And do we even want to? Those were some of the questions I had when I showed up at a “biohacking party” hosted by Synbiota in a rented ranch-style bungalow in Austin, Texas, early this year.”
“In theory, we know what sound waves would look like if we could see them, but it’s not every day we actually get to lay eyes on the effects they produce on the world.
There are actually a number of scientific experiments that can be used to produce a practical visual effect in response to sound. Six of these have been used by Wellington, New Zealand-based musician Nigel Stanford, who, along with director Shahir Daud, has put them together to form the music video for “Cymatics”, the single for his newly launched album “Solar Echoes“”
“When Julian Bleecker first set foot in a lab at the University of Washington Seattle researching human-computer interaction, he was at a loss. He’d studied electrical engineering as an undergrad, so the lab’s work on an early version of virtual reality was unfamiliar ground. To get the lay of the land, Bleecker was told to read “Neuromancer,” the 1984 science fiction novel by William Gibson in which people connect computers to their brains and experience the data of cyberspace as if it had physical form.
“Neuromancer,” more than any software code, was the lab’s shared language. It was the 1990s, and they were working at the blurry edge of a new technology. Researchers found it easier to explain their ideas by saying, “it’s like that scene . . . ,” then wade into technical, esoteric computer science-speak. The book also gave them something to shoot for. “It validated what we were doing in a way,” Bleecker said. “This was fiction, but now we’re actually making it.”’
“Biohackers constructed their temple for amatuer bio-creativity in 2009, with the establishment of Brooklyn-based Genspace, the world’s first government-compliant DIY biotech lab.
As Casey Research commentator Doug Hornig put it in Biohackers, Our Next Computer Revolution or Global Catastrophe in the Making?: “Genspace is the democratization of science in a nutshell, a nonprofit funded by membership dues, tuition fees, and donations from supportive nonmembers. You can attach yourself to one of the scientists already embarked on a project, or you can set up one of your own. The only credential you need to bring is your enthusiasm for the subject, with Ph.D.s onsite to help you through the rough spots.”
The idea is spreading across the globe. In the U.S. alone, there are now about a dozen community biolabs, or “hackerspaces,” as they’re known. Along with Genspace, they include Boston’s Open Source Science Lab, BOSSLAB, BioCurious in the San Francisco Bay Area, and Los Angeles as well as Bio, Tech and Beyond, which just opened near me at Carlsbad California. More information on local groups and standards for laboratory safety can be found at DIYbio.org.
“Oron Catts knits tiny sweaters from cells and grows toy dolls from living tissue, but the “bio artist” wants to make sure his intentions are clear. “I’m not interested in science,” he recently announced to a room brimming with scientists, “I’m interested in life.”
Catts spoke on September 30th at CUriosity3, a Columbia University seminar program that encourages dialogue between scientists and artists. A bohemian with an irreverent, jaunty goatee that contrasts his slick ponytail, Catts is a member of the BioArt movement, which promotes living tissue as an artistic medium. He’s a bioengineer without any formal laboratory experience, a Harvard researcher without a PhD. He embodies the enigma of a science artist.
While the CUriosity3 program aims to connect art and science, the event highlighted gaps in perspective that are difficult to bridge. Catt’s foil was Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic, a biomedical engineer at Columbia, who provided an overview of stem cell research while regularly trying to squeeze in artistic references. Armed with high-definition micrographs of bright green stem cells, Vunjak-Novakovic’s unfaltering message was that “even cells are artistic.” The crowd applauded as a digital image of cancer cells clustered into a mangled smiley face on the screen behind her –unimpeachable evidence, she said, that science can be pretty.”
“In tattoo parlors and basements around the world, people are turning themselves into cyborgs by embedding magnets and computer chips directly into their bodies.
They call themselves biohackers, cyborgs and grinders. With each piece of technology they put beneath their skin, they are exploring the boundaries — and the implications — of fusing man and machine.
Welcome to the world of biohacking.
It’s a niche community at the literal bleeding edge of body modification, and it attracts fervent fans from a variety of schools of thought. Some simply enjoy experimenting with new tech. Others use the magnets and chips for utilitarian purposes. A few, paradoxically, see it as a path to get back to nature.”
“Fernan Federici’s microscopic images of plants, bacteria, and crystals are a classic example of finding art in unexpected places.
A couple years ago, Federici was working on his Ph.D. in biological sciences at Cambridge University studying self-organization, the process by which things organize themselves spontaneously and without direction. Like a flock of birds flying together.
More specifically, he was using microscopes and a process called fluorescence microscopy to see if he could identify these kinds of patterns on a cellular level. In fluorescence microscopy, scientists shine a particular kind of light at whatever they’re trying to illuminate and then that substance identifies itself by shining a different color or light back. Sometimes researchers will also attach proteins that they know emit a particular kind of light to substances as a kind of identifier. In the non-microscopic world, it’s like using a black light on a stoner poster.”
“Eduardo Kac’s work encompasses many genres. He is internationally recognized for his media poetry, telepresence, transgenic and bio artworks. A pioneer of telecommunications art in the pre-Web 1980s, he emerged in the early ’90s with radical works combining telerobotics and living organisms. At the dawn of the twenty-first century Kac opened a new direction for contemporary art with his “transgenic art”–first with a groundbreaking transgenic work entitled Genesis (1999), which included an “artist’s gene” he invented, and then with his fluorescent rabbit called Alba (2000). His visionary integration of robotics, biology and networking explores the fluidity of subject positions in the post-digital world.”
Cannon had the body-monitoring device inserted under the skin on his left forearm to track changes in his body temperature.
Built by his company Grindhouse Wetware, the Circadia 1.0 contains a computer chip within a sealed box about the size of a pack of cards and is powered by a battery that can be wirelessly charged.”
“In the last week, over 3,000 people on Kickstarter ignored the fact it’s next to impossible to keep a houseplant alive and backed the now fully-funded “Glowing Plants: Natural Lighting with no Electricity” campaign. The funds will be used to build upon existing technology and create a transgenic plant that has a soft blue-green glow to act as an electricity-free nightlight. Backer rewards, each glowing, include an arabidopsis plant, a rose plant, and arabidopsis seeds. We check in as the Glowing Plants team heads towards their first stretch goal and look at how this project is part of a bigger trend in DIY biology. But be warned: this is not your grandma’s seed catalog.”
“A special effects artist and woodworker living hundreds of miles apart have pieced together a prosthetic hand for a 5-year-old South African boy who was born without fingers on his right hand. Using a 3D printer, along with bits of cable, bungee cord returns, and rubber thimbles, the two men collaborated over the internet to make it happen. And not only have they changed the life of young Liam, they now hope to do the same for others looking for low-cost prosthetic alternatives. To that end, they have made their assistive technology open source and launched a fund raising campaign.
The project came together when Liam’s mom stumbled upon a blog being run by Ivan Owen and Rich Van As.”
“It is always fun to see what our resident technology-worshipping religious fanatics–the transhumanists–are up to. For those who don’t know, transhumanism is a futuristic social movement–eugenic in nature–that seeks to use biotech, cyber tech, and every other kind of tech to transform themselves into a “post human” species. The movement’s goals are right out of a teenage boy’s wish list; to live forever with super hero type powers. Take a gander at the piece by transhumanist proselytizer Zoltan Istvan, as he opines in the Huffington Post that we should become gods.”
“Every year on the website Edge, scientists and other thinkers reply to one question. This year it’s “What do you consider the most interesting recent news” in science? The answers are fascinating. We’re used to thinking of news as the events that happen in a city or country within a few weeks or months. But scientists expand our thinking to the unimaginably large and the infinitesimally small.”
“There is a longstanding tension between innovation and regulation in genetic engineering, as policymakers have struggled to balance the benefits of innovation with the need to address safety concerns. But with recent advances – most notably the discovery of the gene-targeting and gene-cutting molecular machinery known as CRISPR-Cas9 – the tension has begun to snap. While consumers are focused on a debate over the labelling of the first generation of genetically engineered food ingredients, the latest techniques allow types of genetic modification that fall outside of existing regulatory frameworks, and in some cases are deliberately designed to circumvent them.”
“Chinese scientists have announced that they have been able to develop mice embryos within a microgravity satellite, the first time mammalian embryos have ever been developed in space.
The satellite was launched on April 6, carrying with it 6,000 embryos. These were placed in a self-sufficient containment unit which CC-TV, China’s state news television network, describes as “the size of a microwave oven.” The embryos were in very early stages of development, and 600 of those embryos were placed under a high-resolution camera, which would take photos every four hours for four days of their growth. Duan Enkui, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, told CC-TV scientists noticed the cells had entered blastocyst, the stage where noticeable cell differentiation occurs, about 72 hours after the satellite’s launch. That’s the same the timeline embryonic development takes on Earth.”
“The last track on Yeasayer’s acclaimed 2012 album Fragrant World, “Glass of the Microscope” is heavy with the band’s characteristic silky synths and torpid melodies. There’s a post-apocalyptic vibe in the video that is subtle but persistent, imagining band members Chris Keating, Ira Wolf Tuton, and Anand Wilder as scientists struggling to find a cure for an unnamed global affliction. In addition to the Naturalis tower, the band filmed in molecular biologist Hans Tanke’s lab at Leiden University, one of the oldest research universities in Europe and the place where the 17th-century Dutch microbiologist Antoine van Leeuwenhoek developed an early prototype of the microscope.”
“O canadense William Gadoury, de 15 anos, pode feito história ao descobrir uma cidade maia até então desconhecida a partir da observação das estrelas e com a ajuda do Google Maps.
Segundo o Journal de Montréal, o morador da província de Quebec (Canadá) estudou 22 constelações, reproduziu todas elas em um mapa e, ao analisá-lo, percebeu que elas correspondiam às coordenadas geográficas de 117 cidades maias espalhadas pelo México, Guatemala, Honduras e El Salvador.
Ao aplicar sua teoria a uma 23º constelação, sempre usando dados da Agência Espacial Canadense, e checar a localização no Google Maps, William encontrou vestígios de uma nova cidade na Península de Iucatã, no México.