therourke + nature   340

Robots Help Bees Talk to Fish - IEEE Spectrum
I am honestly not sure whether fish have any concept of bees. I am equally unsure whether bees have any concept of fish. I am even more unsure whether bees and fish could be friends, if they knew that the other existed. But thanks to robots, it turns out that the answer is definitely yes.
additivism  bees  collaboration  communication  fish  hybrids  life  nature  robotics  robots  stream 
8 weeks ago by therourke
Natural’s Not in It — Real Life
If the 20th century promised better living through chemistry, the 21st century has promised better living through digital technology.
additivism  biology  essentialism  evolution  futurism  life  nature  theory  stream 
9 weeks ago by therourke
No One Is Prepared for Hagfish Slime - The Atlantic
At first glance, the hagfish—a sinuous, tubular animal with pink-grey skin and a paddle-shaped tail—looks very much like an eel. Naturalists can tell the two apart because hagfish, unlike other fish, lack backbones (and, also, jaws). For everyone else, there’s an even easier method.
additivism  fish  hagfish  nature  slime  weird  stream 
february 2019 by therourke
Yes, the Octopus Is Smart as Heck. But Why? - The New York Times
It has eight arms, three hearts — and a plan. Scientists aren’t sure how the cephalopods got to be so intelligent. To demonstrate how smart an octopus can be, Piero Amodio points to a YouTube video. It shows an octopus pulling two halves of a coconut shell together to hide inside.
additivism  cephalopod  evolution  intelligence  life  mind  nature  octopus  stream 
february 2019 by therourke
Technological and Posthuman Zones – Critical Posthumanism
Modern technology seems always to have been judged according to its utility for human beings. To the extent that technologies have been viewed as tools, instruments, or prostheses for human use, and thus under human control, they have largely been seen in positive, utopian terms.
additivism  anthropocene  environment  human  monsters  nature  posthumanism  technology  zone  stream 
november 2018 by therourke
Crispr Can Speed Up Nature—and Change How We Grow Food | WIRED
Although he worked on a farm as a teenager and has a romantic attachment to the soil, ­Lippman isn’t a farmer. He’s a plant biologist at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York with an expertise in genetics and development. And these greenhouse plants aren’t ordinary tomatoes.
additivism  agriculture  bioengineering  crispr  farming  food  nature  stream 
august 2018 by therourke
An Army of Deer Ticks Carrying Lyme Disease Is Advancing and Here’s Why It Will Only Get Worse – Mother Jones
This story was originally published by the Center for Public Integrity. It appears here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration. Maine’s invasion came early this year.
additivism  body  climate  change  environment  health  meat  nature  ticks  stream 
august 2018 by therourke
Biologists Have Discovered an Underwater Octopus City And They're Calling It Octlantis
At the end of last year, scientists discovered a small octopus city – dubbed Octlantis – a find that suggests members of the gloomy octopus species (Octopus tetricus) are perhaps not the isolated and solitary creatures we thought they were.
additivism  cephalopod  cthulhucene  life  nature  ocean  octopus  sea  stream 
june 2018 by therourke
Speculative biology: understanding the past and predicting our future | Science | The Guardian
In 1981, a remarkable book was published: After Man: A Zoology of the Future, by Dougal Dixon.
additivism  book  dougal  dixon  evolution  life  nature  speculative  biology  stream 
june 2018 by therourke
The macabre world of mind-controlling parasites – Science & research news | Frontiers
The gruesome new field of neuro-parasitology could provide insights into the neurological basis for behavior and decision-making — By Conn Hastings Imagine a parasite that makes an animal change its habits, guard the parasite’s offspring or even commit suicide.
evolution  nature  parasites  parasitism  zombies  stream 
june 2018 by therourke
Plastic plankton, the Anthropocene’s emblematic “microorganism” – We Make Money Not Art
Mandy Barker, Ophelia medustica. Specimen collected from Glounthaune shoreline, Cove of Cork, Ireland, (Pram wheel), 2015. Series: Beyond Drifting: Imperfectly Known Animals, 2015 In 1816, John Vaughan Thompson was posted to Cork in Ireland as an army Surgeon.
additivism  anthropocene  nature  ocean  plankton  plastic  pollution  stream 
june 2018 by therourke
Humans just 0.01% of all life but have destroyed 83% of wild mammals – study | Environment | The Guardian
Humankind is revealed as simultaneously insignificant and utterly dominant in the grand scheme of life on Earth by a groundbreaking new assessment of all life on the planet. The world’s 7.6 billion people represent just 0.01% of all living things, according to the study.
additivism  ecology  extinction  humans  life  nature  stream 
may 2018 by therourke
How the chicken nugget became the true symbol of our era | News | The Guardian
This is what happens when you turn the natural world into a profit-making machine. By and Jason W Moore The most telling symbol of the modern era isn’t the automobile or the smartphone. It’s the chicken nugget.
additivism  animals  anthropocene  automation  capitalism  chickens  diet  environment  food  mass  production  meat  nature  reading  stream 
may 2018 by therourke
The Thermodynamic Theory of Ecology | Quanta Magazine
The Western Ghats in India rise like a wall between the Arabian Sea and the heart of the subcontinent to the east.
additivism  ecology  energy  entropy  evolution  life  nature  physics  thermodynamics  stream 
january 2018 by therourke
What constitutes an individual organism in biology? | Aeon Essays
When she was two years old, I took my daughter to the American Museum of Natural History for the first time. As we strolled through the displays of taxidermy animals, she would waddle towards each one, and point and ask what we were looking at.
evolution  hybrids  life  nature  units  stream 
october 2017 by therourke
Against ‘Sustainability’ - The New York Times
Among the many stories that can be told about the origins of the environmental movement in the West, perhaps the most common is that it began with the emergence of Romanticism in the late 18th century. In this version, environmentalism was born as the good twin to evil industrialization.
additivism  anthropocene  capitalism  climate  change  ecology  environment  extinction  human  nature  progress  sustainability  stream 
october 2017 by therourke
Climate change is so dire we need a new kind of science fiction to make sense of it | Claire L Evans | Opinion | The Guardian
Star Trek was one way of dealing with the social anxieties of the 1960s. Since sci-fi mirrors the present, ecological collapse requires a new dystopian fiction Build an imaginary world in your mind, hanging in space. Spin it around a bit; kick the tires. Now change one thing about that world.
additivism  anthropocene  apocalypse  buffer  catastrophe  climate  change  earth  environment  fiction  figuration  figures  nature  sci-fi  stream 
september 2017 by therourke
The Thoughts of a Spiderweb | Quanta Magazine
Millions of years ago, a few spiders abandoned the kind of round webs that the word “spiderweb” calls to mind and started to focus on a new strategy. Before, they would wait for prey to become ensnared in their webs and then walk out to retrieve it.
additivism  consciousness  evolution  extended  mind  insects  insta  nature  postnature  spider  silk  spiders  web  stream 
september 2017 by therourke
Amia Srinivasan reviews ‘Other Minds’ by Peter Godfrey-Smith and ‘The Soul of an Octopus’ by Sy Montgomery · LRB 7 September 2017
In 1815, 15 years before he made his most famous print, The Great Wave, Hokusai published three volumes of erotic art. In one of them there is a woodcut print known in English as ‘The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife’ and in Japanese as ‘Tako to ama’, ‘Octopus and Shell Diver’.
additivism  books  boundaries  cephalopod  evolution  insta  intelligence  mind  nature  octopus  reading  sex  weird  stream 
september 2017 by therourke
The Future is Fungal – Mask Magazine
The future as shown to us by science fictions is almost always shiny. Whether in aspirational daydreams or depictions of dystopia, the vision continues to be one of gleaming metal, stark white interiors, and of course many more robots.
additivism  buffer  climate  change  communism  compost  crap  detritus  environment  extinction  figures  fungus  futurity  growth  insta  life  nature  queer  reading  waste  stream 
august 2017 by therourke
This Is What Happens When Humans Use Animals to Make Art - Creators
Though defining exactly what art is is a near-impossible art all its own, human involvement seems to be an essential tenet, whether it's in creation or conceptualization.
additivism  animals  art  hybrids  nature  stream 
march 2017 by therourke
Monkeys mourn robot baby in groundbreaking new BBC show 
Monkeys have been shown to mourn a robot baby they accepted as one of their own. In a new BBC show, Spy In The Wild, the monkeys gather around the artificial creature and appear to go into a state of grief.
additivism  death  monkeys  nature  robotics  robots  simulation  technology  stream 
january 2017 by therourke
How to Crochet a Coral Reef--and Why - Scientific American Blog Network
It’s hard to get people’s attention focused on the environment. Blame it on diminishing attention spans, overwhelming amounts of information, or simply the fact that people grow weary of hearing the same problems discussed to death.
additivism  coral  reef  crochet  environment  figures  knitting  nature  stream 
january 2017 by therourke
Beyond humans, what other kinds of minds might be out there? | Aeon Essays
In 1984, the philosopher Aaron Sloman invited scholars to describe ‘the space of possible minds’. Sloman’s phrase alludes to the fact that human minds, in all their variety, are not the only sorts of minds.
additivism  ai  brain  consciousness  human  imitation  game  intelligence  mind  nature  perception  posthuman  posthumanism  reading  simulation  turing  test  stream 
october 2016 by therourke
Are Humans Creating More Species Than We’re Killing? - The Atlantic
People might be behind a speciation boom that cancels out the extinction crisis—but that’s not necessarily good news. The tunnels of the London Underground are hot, dark, and damp. Crowds of warm-blooded humans congregate on the platforms. Stagnant pools of water collect beneath the tracks.
additivism  anthropocene  environment  extinction  humans  life  nature  speciation  stream 
october 2016 by therourke
When Sex Is Shocking
Male beetles trying to mate with this decoy female get 4,000 fatal volts of electricity. An emerald ash borer hovers, checking out the female forms below him. He’s drawn by how light plays across their bodies. He picks one, approaches, initiates physical contact—and is zapped by 4,000 volts.
additivism  beetles  cyborgs  electricity  females  insects  males  nature  robots  sex  stream 
september 2016 by therourke
Among the many stories that can be told about the origins of the environmental movement in the West, perhaps the most common is that it began with the emergence of Romanticism in the late 18th century. In this version, environmentalism was born as the good twin to evil industrialization.
additivism  additivisn  anthropocene  capitalism  climate  change  ecology  environment  extinction  human  nature  progress  sustainability  stream 
september 2016 by therourke
Crabs With Beach Trash Homes – Okinawa, Japan | Okinawa Nature Photography
It’s important to photograph the hermit crabs in their natural habitat.  I prefer to photograph them using a wide angle lens to achieve a unique perspective. Hermit crab in a glass bottle- Yomitan, Okinawa.
additivism  crabs  crap  detritus  garbage  kipple  nature  ocean  plastic  postnature  waste  stream 
september 2016 by therourke
Slime Intelligence | Rhizome
Physarum polycephalum is a single-celled organism invisible to the naked eye. However, in its ideal conditions—dark, wet, and bacterial—it multiplies into a visible bright yellow mass that spreads ostentatiously, fanning out in veins or erupting in polyp-like protrusions.
additivism  art  life  mould  nature  slime  weird  stream 
august 2016 by therourke
Even the World's Deepest Trench Is Full of Garbage Now
The Mariana Trench is the deepest spot in the ocean—and it’s home to some strange sights, sounds, and creatures. But there’s one thing down there that’s very familiar: a whole bunch of garbage.
additivism  anthropocene  environment  kipple  life  nature  ocean  plastic  trash  waste  stream  from twitter_favs
june 2016 by therourke
People Are Making And Selling Counterfeit Jellyfish In China | Popular Science
There are all sorts of food scams perpetrated every day here in America. The whole farm-to-table trend, for example — a lot of that is probably just marketing bullshit, according to a recent excellent investigation published by the Tampa Bay Times.
additivism  artificial  china  counterfeit  jellyfish  life  making  nature  ocean  plastic  shanzai  stream 
june 2016 by therourke
A Man and His Botfly: What Happened When a Tropical Pest’s Egg Got Into a Human Forehead
Jerry Coyne is an evolutionary biologist at the University of Chicago. His research on population and evolutionary genetics has been widely published in professional and trade journals and his 2009 book, Why Evolution Is True, established him as a leading force in the study of evolution.
body  health  human  infection  nature  other  parasites  parasitism  stream 
may 2016 by therourke
The Enlightenment Is Dead, Long Live the Entanglement | Next Nature Network
We humans are changing. We have become so intertwined with what we have created that we are no longer separate from it. We have outgrown the distinction between the natural and the artificial. We are what we make.
additivism  culture  design  enlightenment  history  human  nature  posthumanism  technology  time  stream 
april 2016 by therourke
The Emperor’s Love of Slime Mold | Popular Science
Slime mold—a living network of tendrils found on rotting wood and other plant debris—is easily one of the strangest things alive. Neither plant, nor fungus, it’s a collection of individual cells glomming together in a web-like mush that stalks the forest floor.
additivism  ai  biology  cells  evolution  intelligence  nature  slime  mould  stream 
april 2016 by therourke
Research crowns termites the top engineers of the natural world - Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE)
Scientists have already shown that termites build their mounds in a unique way involving "bio-cementation", a process where grains of soil are fused together into small balls with moisture, saliva and excretion.
additivism  architecture  engineering  insects  nature  termites  stream 
april 2016 by therourke
Exiting The Anthropocene and Entering The Symbiocene. | glennaalbrecht
It has been proposed that humans are now living within a period of the Earth’s history appropriately named ‘The Anthropocene’ (Crutzen and Stoermer 2000).
additivism  anthropocene  biomimicry  environment  evolution  hybrids  nature  symbiocene  stream 
april 2016 by therourke
Wasting Away: Value, Waste, And Appropriation In The Capitalist World-Ecology | Non
The decisive violence imposed on life by the capitalist mode of production derives from its quest for radical simplification.
abundance  additivism  appropriation  capitalism  cheap  nature  ecology  economics  excess  growth  money  profit  progress  reading  value  waste  stream 
march 2016 by therourke
IF you ever have the good fortune to see a Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep, the experience might go like this: On a sunny morning in Yosemite National Park, you walk through alpine meadows and then up a ridge to the summit of Mount Gibbs at 12,764 feet above sea level.
additivism  kindle  nature  postnatural  rewilding  the  wild  wilderness  stream 
march 2016 by therourke
Meet the Man Who Created Sexless Oysters | MUNCHIES
Oysters are the most sexual creatures in the animal kingdom: their flesh literally morphs into a reproductive organ during the spawning season, which in Australia, runs from around December to February. During these summer months, oysters are intensely creamy, milky, and full-bodied.
additivism  animals  food  nature  oysters  stream 
march 2016 by therourke
Going beyond the “ecological turn” in the humanities | ENTITLE blog
Talk about the Anthropocene often has a tendency to rely on apolitical and colonialist assumptions. But the turn to ecology in the humanities will require acknowledging—and, more importantly, supporting—those peoples who have never turned their back on ‘ecology’ in the first place.
academia  additivism  anthropocene  ecology  environment  human  humanities  nature  stream 
march 2016 by therourke
THERE’S a term biologists and economists use these days — ecosystem services — which refers to the many ways nature supports the human endeavor.
additivism  disease  ecology  environment  evolution  exaptation  nature  stream 
february 2016 by therourke
Landscapes of Data Infection – BLDGBLOG
There’s a fascinating Q&A in a recent issue of New Scientist with doctor and genetic researcher Karin Ljubic Fister. Fister studies “plant-based data storage,” which relies on a combination of artificially modified genes, bacteria, and “infected” tobacco plants.
additivism  biohacking  bldgblog  data  infection  information  nature  plants  storage  stream 
february 2016 by therourke
No Mushroom Cloud – The New Inquiry
“The timber has been cut, the oil has run out, the…soil no longer supports crops”; global capitalism has stripped the place and abandoned it as “[t]he search for assets resumes elsewhere.
additivism  anthropocene  apocalypse  biology  books  change  extinction  fungus  growth  mushrooms  mutation  nature  reading  review  stream 
february 2016 by therourke
Human Nature – The New Inquiry
SINCE its rise in the 1970s, mainstream environmentalism has been viewed by many as a “new social movement.
additivism  books  capitalism  ecology  human  nature  reading  theory  stream 
january 2016 by therourke
Ants Write Architectural Plans Into The Walls of Their Buildings – Phenomena: Not Exactly Rocket Science
Imagine constructing a building with no blueprints or architects, and no inkling of what the finished edifice should look like. It sounds like a recipe for disaster, and yet that’s what ants and termites do all the time—and the results speak for themselves.
additivism  ants  architecture  insects  nature  stream 
january 2016 by therourke
Why life is not a thing but a restless manner of being | Aeon Essays
Mike Russell found his moment of inspiration on a warm spring evening in Glasgow in 1983, when his 11-year-old son broke a new toy. The toy in question was a chemical garden, a small plastic tank in which stalagmite-like tendrils grew out of seed crystals placed in a mineral solution.
biology  entropy  life  nature  negentropy  stream  from twitter_favs
january 2016 by therourke
The Dialogical Avatar: a presentation with Donna Haraway&&& Journal
as the central speaker and facilitator. Aside from the Cyborg Manifesto, it constitutes one of Haraway’s most extended engagements with science fiction, and with a specific work of science fiction cinema in particular, as a central topic.
additivism  anthropocene  avatar  donna  haraway  ecology  fiction  human  materiality  nature  posthumanism  power  race  reading  revolution  sci-fi  science  theory  whiteness  stream 
january 2016 by therourke
Scientists discover ‘genderfluid’ lioness who looks, acts and roars like a male · PinkNews
Mmamoriri the lioness is said to exhibit the physical characteristics of both genders. Scientists discovered the lioness on the plains of the Okavango Delta in Botswana, southern Africa.
additivism  evolution  exaptation  feminism  fluidity  gender  identity  nature  stream 
january 2016 by therourke
The Essence of Peopling
Sarah Perry is a contributing editor of Ribbonfarm. Nouns for human beings – “people” or “person” – conjure in the mind a snapshot of the surface appearance of humans. Using nouns like “people” subtly encourages thinking about people as frozen in time, doing nothing in particular.
earth  ethics  humans  nature  people  peopling  philosophy  posthumanism  theory  stream 
january 2016 by therourke
The Circle of Poo | Hakai Magazine
In the Southern Ocean, surrounding Antarctica, blue whales were nearly wiped out by industrial whaling from the 1920s to 1940s. But now, with whaling curtailed, the whales are surging back: their population growing by 7.3 percent per year.
additivism  crap  detritus  ecosystem  environment  kipple  nature  ocean  poo  waste  whales  stream 
january 2016 by therourke
Nature Has Lost Its Meaning - The Atlantic
Humans were once a fairly average species of large mammals, living off the land with little effect on it. But in recent millennia, our relationship with the natural world has changed as dramatically as our perception of it.  
additivism  additivist  anthropocene  climate  change  environment  geology  nature  time  stream 
december 2015 by therourke
The Anthropocene and a Critical Theory of Machines | Heathwood Press
The significance of the idea of the Anthropocene epoch is centrally about the understanding of human intervention into and extraction from nature, and one that can be signalled in the geological record.
additivism  anthropocene  critical  theory  environment  geology  machines  nature  reading  reference  technology  time  stream 
november 2015 by therourke
A Feminist Approach to the Anthropocene: Earth Stalked by Man
To take seriously the concept of the Anthropocene—the idea that we have entered a new epoch defined by humans’ impact on Earth’s ecosystems—requires engagement with global history.
additivism  anthropocene  extinction  feminism  life  man  nature  reading  theory  stream 
november 2015 by therourke
'Auto-rewilding' landscapes and the Anthropocene - Interview with Anna Tsing - Allegra
Anna Tsing is professor of anthropology at the University of Santa Cruz, California and the Nils Bohr professor at Aarhus University, Denmark, where she heads the Living in the Anthropocene research project.
anthropocene  interview  nature  reading  rewilding  stream 
november 2015 by therourke
Nature Is The Ultimate 3-D Printer: Can We Make Our New Manufacturing As Clean?
We must green 3-D printing while the technology is still in its infancy. Before the Gutenberg press, the mechanical loom, the steam engine, or the computer became ubiquitous, there was a pause. The inventors had hatched the next big thing, and they wondered what would happen next.
3d  printing  additivism  environment  nature  plastic  recycling  stream 
november 2015 by therourke
Plastic-eating worms may offer solution to mounting waste, researchers discover
Consider the plastic foam cup. Every year, Americans throw away 2.5 billion of them. And yet, that waste is just a fraction of the 33 million tons of plastic Americans discard every year.
additivism  environment  nature  plastic  worms  stream 
october 2015 by therourke
e-flux journal 56th Venice Biennale – SUPERCOMMUNITY – Extinction as Usual?: Geo-Social Futures and Left Optimism
The concept of the Anthropocene, the so-called geological age of man, has become pervasive in recent years, marking one of those rare instances when an idea from the natural sciences gains wider purchase on the popular imagination, as evolution, thermodynamics, and Gaia have before it.
additivism  anthropocene  evolution  extinction  nature  postnatural  svience  stream 
october 2015 by therourke
Julian Savulescu: The Philosopher Who Says We Should Play God
Australian bioethicist Julian Savulescu has a knack for provocation. Take human cloning. He says most of us would readily accept it if it benefited us.
additivism  bio-ethics  biology  cloning  dystopia  ethics  eugenics  evolution  future  futurism  nature  philosophy  progress  synthetic-biology  technology  transhumanism  utopia  stream 
september 2015 by therourke
This Man Has Been Trying to Live Life as a Goat | Motherboard
Thomas Thwaites is currently investigating what it might be like to live as a goat. He commissioned prosthetics for his arms and legs so that he could walk, as comfortably as possible, on all fours.
additivism  furries  nature  posthumanism  transhumanism  weird  stream 
august 2015 by therourke
The Dark Mountain Manifesto: A Brief Review | Post-futurum
“The machine is stuttering and the engineers are in panic. They are wondering if perhaps they do not understand it as well as they imagined. They are wondering whether they are controlling it at all or whether, perhaps, it is controlling them.”
additivism  earth  enlightenment  environment  future  human  manifesto  nature  posthumanism  progress  reading  technology  uncivilisation  stream  from twitter_favs
july 2015 by therourke
Preface to a Genealogy of the Postnatural - Center for PostNatural History
(Originally appearing in the book "Intercalations 2: Land & Animal & Non-Animal" Co-edited by Anna-Sophie Springer & Etienne Turpin. Published by K. Verlag and the Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin. 2015. Copies of the book available for purchase here. A downloadable PDF of the essay is here.
additivism  anthropocene  genealogy  human  nature  postnatural  stream  from twitter_favs
july 2015 by therourke
Why don't we just terraform Earth? — Hopes&Fears — flow "Science"
McKay's research focuses on the evolution of the solar system and the origin of life. McKay is currently involved in planning future Mars missions and has authored a number of studies on terraforming Mars as well as geo-engineering Earth.
additivism  anthropocene  earth  nasa  nature  space  terraforming  stream 
june 2015 by therourke
What can lobbyists do when science contradicts their political messages? Some simply deny the science, as many conservatives do with climate change. Others pretend to embrace the science, while ignoring or purging the disagreeable content.
anthropocene  environment  history  nature  rhetoric  science  stream 
may 2015 by therourke
Mammoth Tusk Hunters
One last chance. That’s all the Siberian hunter wants. For five months Karl Gorokhov has tracked his ancient prey across a desolate island in the East Siberian Sea, slogging 18 hours a day over the icy tundra.
additivism  arctic  history  ivory  mammoths  nature  time  stream 
may 2015 by therourke
I Just Want to Say One Word to You: Plastiglomerate - Scientific American
Humanity inscribes itself into the rock record of Earth’s history. People now move more sediment than all the world’s rivers combined. Fossil fuel burning has changed the composition of the atmosphere.
deep  time  environment  geology  nature  plastic  plastiglomerates  stream 
may 2015 by therourke
We are not edging up to a mass extinction – Stewart Brand – Aeon
The way the public hears about conservation issues is nearly always in the mode of ‘[Beloved Animal] Threatened With Extinction’. That makes for electrifying headlines, but it misdirects concern. The loss of whole species is not the leading problem in conservation.
additivism  biodiversity  biology  earth  ecology  ecosystem  environment  extinction  humans  life  nature  species  stream 
april 2015 by therourke
Wild Systems «
Steven Levy writes in Wired on the unexpected turn of the Artificial Intelligence revolution: rather than whole artificial minds, it consists of a rich bestiary of digital fauna, which few would dispute possess something approaching intelligence. warehouses are a bit of a jumble.
complexity  ecology  nature  next  reference  technology  stream 
september 2014 by therourke
Synthetic Biology: Designing a “Metaphysical” Chicken
The ultimate design material is one that understands what it is to become. By way of an example, I’d like to think about how we might design a chicken.

Think of the creativity of Nature – which, in very real terms can:
• Transform an acorn into a giant oak tree
• Change the colour of a chameleon
• Evolve scales into feathers so that a creature can soar.
Throughout the ages we have sought to understand how one thing becomes another – and it really isn’t such a difficult thing to do:
• Ivy can be trained over frameworks to grow arches
• Trees can be pleached to build fences
• Plants and animals can be selectively bred to particular requirements.
matter  design  life  synthetic-life  materiality  research  reference  the-thing  science  biology  digital-biology  simulation  representation  post  nature  being  ontology  metaphysics  synthetic-biology 
september 2012 by therourke
Nature, nurture and liberal values
Biology determines our behaviour more than it suits many to acknowledge. But people—and politics and morality—cannot be described just by neural impulses
morality  biology  therourke  machinemachine  genetics  nurture  nature  liberal  politics  belief  neuroscience  science  religion  human  from delicious
january 2012 by therourke
Kids, unlike adults, think technology is fundamentally human
With children so easy to embrace robotics, it’s clear that there’s a ton of potential for integrating intelligent technologies into learning environments. Besides, the idea of “exploring and creating” sounds a heck of a lot better than answering true/false questions out of a booklet. Clearly there are tons of new and interesting ways to learn, and technology is, in many ways, responsible for this.

Taking a deeper look at the stories the children created, the survey found that unlike many adults who see technology as separate from humanness, it seems that “kids tend to think of technology as fundamentally human: as a social companion that can entertain, motivate, and empower them in various contexts.”
future  society  children  adults  therourke  machinemachine  nature  progress  reality  perception  education  kids  learning  tech  robots  article  technology  culture  from delicious
january 2012 by therourke
It’s Only Humanist
To me it tastes like a desire to locate man’s place in a world that he perceives primarily with the aid of machines. The art of the Greeks has been used in the past as a touchstone for artists who measure their own vision against an anthropocentric one. “Greek art had a purely human conception of beauty,” Apollinaire wrote in an essay about a 1912 exhibition of Cubist painting. “It took man as the measure of perfection. The art of the new painters takes the infinite universe as its ideal, and it is to the fourth dimension alone that we owe this new measure of perfection […].” The modernists never determined what the “fourth dimension” was, besides a plane of activity beyond human perception. Today the internet—and the spatial and perceptual relations it has engendered—make a familiar substitute for it. “Greek new media shit” puts representations of the visible and the invisible in the same frame.
rhizome  humanism  art  posthumanism  criticism  human  perception  modernism  machinemachine  anthropomorphism  beauty  nature  technology  theory  from delicious
january 2012 by therourke
What happens to a caterpillar's brain during metamorphosis?
Basically, three things can happen to any given neuron in the central nervous system. It's a really complex proccess!
A) some neurons are born very early in the caterpillar's life (embryonically) but are quiescent until adulthood - during metamorphosis, these neurons put on their game face and start to do real work in adulthood.
B) Some neurons are useful in larval life and not in adult life, and basically die during metamorphosis.
C) Some neurons are useful in both larval and adult life, but do different things - so they basically retract their projections during metamorphosis and make new ones for adulthood.
All of these things are specified on a genetic level, but because of the variation in what happens to any given neuron it's a pretty complex process. The really crazy thing is that for each neuron, there is basically one genetic specification for its larval life and another for its adult life! (Although most neurons probably do something pretty similar in both.)
life  nature  brain  caterpillar  butterfly  moth  metamorphosis  change  evolution  transformation  therourke  machinemachine  science  biology  research  pupae  crysalis  from delicious
november 2011 by therourke
Is mental time travel what makes us human?
A stonishing animals show up everywhere these days. Cooperative apes, grief-stricken elephants, empathetic cats and dogs crowd our bookshop shelves. It’s all the rage to plumb the cognitive and emotional depths of the animal world, rejecting sceptics’ sneers of “anthropomorphism” to insist that we’re finally coming to see animals for who they really are: not so different from us.

Pushing against this tide of animal awe is a competing cultural trope, the relentless seeking of human superiority. It’s from this second camp that Michael C. Corballis, a professor emeritus of psychology from New Zealand, has written The Recursive Mind: The origins of human language, thought, and civilization. Mental time travel and theory of mind, Corballis believes, are two uniquely human ways of thinking that propelled our species to heights above all others, thanks to what is called recursion.
human_nature  philosophy  mind  psychology  human  nature  evolution  thought  consciousness.  brain  perception  recursion  language  animals  biology  machinemachine  time  travel  imagination  review  book  cognition  meaning  value  anthropomorphosis  anthropic  anthropomorphism  from delicious
october 2011 by therourke
On Discovering Life
There is an aspect of life sciences that has been largely absent: the confrontation of fundamental questions of biology much as particle accelerators grapple with fundamental questions of physics. The roll call of early pioneers and prospectors is notable, but short. Fortunately, increasing numbers of researchers are now re-entering this fertile frontier.<br />
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The open secret of this emerging frontier is that we do not have a fundamental definition or understanding of life. Similarly, we do not understand life’s origins, how life emerges from chemistry. We do know that the chemistry of life on Earth, or “Terran” biochemistry for short, is rather restrictive in its molecular permutations. Unnecessarily so, it seems, given the enormous choice of good options provided by chemistry for building biological bodies and functions. However, we do not know whether nature or nurture is the reason.
life  syntheticlife  computers  cern  numbers  mathematics  research  nature  nurture  biochemistry  evolution  biology  chemistry  machinemachine  physics  outside  from delicious
july 2011 by therourke
What's human? What's animal? And what of the biology in between?
Friday's report by the Academy of Medical Sciences on the increasingly fuzzy boundaries between the human and the animal is the latest in a long series of policy reflections on how to keep pace with developments in the biosciences. It can justly be said that politics and regulation have not dealt well with our newfound capacities for muddying the boundaries between us and other species. And yet the last two decades have witnessed an unprecedented growth in bioscientific techniques that increasingly call into question what it means to be human. Take the human genome project: many of us may have intuitively suspected that we might have more genetically in common with the chimpanzee than even Darwin had envisaged, only then to be told of our cousinly closeness to the fruit fly, maize and the zebra fish.
biology  human  animal  nature  evolution  life  machinemachine  change  mutation  research  science  complexity  from delicious
july 2011 by therourke
Regulations proposed for animal–human chimaeras
The increasingly sophisticated blending of different species to create chimaeras is pushing biology into a new ethical dimension. Last year, scientists used new stem-cell technologies to create a mouse with a functioning pancreas composed entirely of rat cells. So might it soon be possible to create a monkey with a brain composed entirely of human neurons? And would it think like a human?<br />
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Such an animal might be useful to researchers studying human cognition or human-specific pathogens. But it would be ethically unacceptable and should be banned, argues a government-commissioned report from the UK Academy of Medical Sciences, a body that promotes medical research.<br />
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The document, Animals Containing Human Material , says that genetic and stem-cell technologies are now so advanced that the creation of such animals is already on the horizon. But no country has yet devised a broad regulatory framework for the research.
chimera  nature  human  genetics  research  science  morality  ethics  machinemachine  regulation  biology  medicine  stem-cells  hybrids  chimaeras  experimentation  from delicious
july 2011 by therourke
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