Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Manuel DeLanda: Nature, Space, Society

This talk is part of a discussion series consisting of three sessions on the relationships between society, space and nature, and how they are currently being transformed both theoretically and by technological and environmental changes in the world. (05.03.2004)

Anna Maria

Image credits: news.yorku.ca

Sunday, 12 February 2012

"Dialoge with Lucinda" and Flocking

Yesterday evening I saw these two dance performances:

Nicole Beutler remade two dance pieces from Lucinda Childs (look up).
These two beautiful pieces made me think of the flocks of starlings:
- Their movement is based on simple rules.
- They never bump into each other.
- It is beautiful and mesmerizing to watch.

Also "flocking" is a dance technique where dance is created by the same rules as birds flock.
A wikipedia link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flocking_(behavior)

Neuroscientist and artist Beau Lotto

Thursday, 9 February 2012

How to map similarity

A Molecular dance in the blood

I don't knew if I got any smarter but it made me want to understand what they are doing.
Suppose a man born blind, and now adult, and taught by his touch to distinguish between a cube and a sphere of the same metal, and nighly of the same bigness, so as to tell, when he felt one and the other, which is the cube, which is the sphere. Suppose then the cube and the sphere placed on a table, and the blind man made to see: query, Whether by his sight, before he touched them, he could now distinguish and tell which is the globe, which the cube? To which the acute and judicious proposer answers: ‘Not. For though he has obtained the experience of how a globe, and how a cube, affects his touch; yet he has not yet attained the experience, that what affects his touch so or so, must affect his sight so or so…’

What Darwin newer knew

Link to the program what Darwin newer know, http://youtu.be/I91Huv4jbCk A lot of good information about how gene regulators work.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012


Looking at system aggregation after a talk with a specialist in cellulose research.

This however is a "Dictyostelium Discoideum", which has an interesting behaviour of forming a slug.

From Wikipedia: "Under the social cycle, amoebae aggregate to cAMP by the thousands, and form a motile slug, which moves towards light. Ultimately the slug forms a fruiting body in which about 20% of the cells die to lift the remaining cells up to a better place for sporulation and dispersal. Under the sexual cycle, amoebae aggregate to cAMP and sex pheromones, and two cells of opposite mating types fuse, and then begin consuming the other attracted cells. Before they are consumed, some of the prey cells form a cellulose wall around the entire group. When cannibalism is complete, the giant diploid cell is a hardy macrocyst which eventually undergoes recombination and meiosis, and hatches hundreds of recombinants."


Sunday, 5 February 2012

Some more rhino news.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Trying to wrap our heads around the science projects! *friday afternoon*

Microbial Home

“Microbial Home” is a project done by Philips Design Probes, which is a far future research program of Philips. Philips Design Probes was established to explore far future lifestyle scenarios based on rigorous research in a wide range of areas. Their projects aim to spark discussion and debate around new ideas and lifestyle concepts. The Microbial Home probe adopts a systemic ­approach to many of the domestic processes we take for granted and asks questions about how we deal with resources. It is a proposal for an integrated cyclical domestic ecosystem where each function’s output is another’s input. It views­ the home as a biological machine to filter, process­ and recycle what we conventionally think of as­ waste – sewage, effluent, garbage and waste water.

 The Microbial Home probe consists of 7 concept items: this infograpic shows how all concepts work together within a domestic setting.

Bio-digester Island; the central hub in the Microbial Home system consists of a methane digester which converts toilet waste solids and vegetable trimmings into methane gas that is used to power a series of functions in the home.

Larder; an evaporative cooling and vegetable storage system.

Bio Light; a concept that explores the use of bioluminescent bacteria, which are fed with methane and composted material.

Filtering Squatting toilet; a waste separating squatting toilet that filters effluent while channelling excreta to a methane digester in the Microbial Home system.

Urban Beehive; a concept designed for keeping bees at home and to create an urban refuge for bees as global bee colonies are in decline.

Paternoster; a concept for a domestic (or school) plastic waste up-cycler that uses mycelium to break down plastic packaging waste.

Apothecary: a concept developed for slow-diagnosing at home using 4 diagnostic tools.

I could go into more detail on all these concept but after Laura’s post on bioluminescence it might be nice to show more of the Bio-light, which is exactly about this.

The bio-light uses different biological technologies to create ambient light effects. The concept explores the use of bioluminescent bacteria, which are fed with methane and composted material (drawn from the methane digester in the Microbial Home system). Alternatively the cellular light array can be filled with fluorescent proteins that emit different frequencies of light.

This concept has been created using a technique where individual cells are hand-blown into a steel frame which is freestanding or hung on the wall. Each cell is connected via silicon tubes to the food source (which is drawn from a reservoir at the base) creating a closed loop system for the living material. This represents a new genre of ‘living’ biological products. Potentionally these products could be self-energizing, adaptive, responsive, self-repairing, act as biological sensors to environmental conditions, and change the way we communicate information.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Jae Rhim Lee: My mushroom burial suit

Insider chemist jokes

At the lunch break the other day, Max asked if we scientists have our own insider humor. Oh boy, do we! So here I will post a little walk scape through this important social aspect.

Here are some of my favorite science jokes. First out is a translation to (almost cliché) phrases in a typical scientific paper.

One thing I like and use a lot with my students, LOL cats! (about Scrödinger´s cat

For more LOL cat chemistry, click here.

And this one is perhaps not so scientific, but I recognize myself in it to some extent.


Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Basics of Bioluminescence

Bioluminescence is the light produced by a chemical reaction that occurs in an organism.

Bioluminescence is the only source of light in the deep ocean where sunlight does not penetrate. Amazingly, about ninety percent of the organisms that live in the ocean have the capability to produce light.
Most bioluminescence is blue for two reasons. First, blue-green light travels the farthest in water. Second, most organisms are sensitive to only blue light. They do not have the visual pigments to absorb the longer or shorter wavelengths. As with every rule, exceptions exist. Some cnidarians emit green light and one family of fish, the Malacosteids (known as the Loosejaws) emit and are able to see red light. The red light they produce is almost infrared and not visible to the human eye. This is a huge advantage to these fish because they can produce light to see their prey, but their prey can not see them!

The luminescence of photosynthetic dinoflagelletes is very much influenced by the intensity of the previous days sunlight. The brighter the sunlight, the brighter the luminescence will be. In most multi-cellular organisms, the ability to produce light is controlled neurally. However, the transmitter that signals the change to take place is unknown in most organisms.

All bioluminescent reactions occur in the presence of oxygen. Two types of chemicals are required- a luciferin and a luciferase (lucifer means light bringing). The luciferin is the basic substrate of the reaction and produces the light. The luciferase catalyzes the reaction. In the basic reaction, the luciferase catalyzes the oxidation of luciferin, which results in two products- light and inactive oxyluciferin. Most of the energy released in this reaction occurs in the form of light, therefore, bioluminescence is commonly called “cold light.”

Five main types of luciferins are known.
1.Bacterial Luciferin is a reduced riboflavin phosphate and found in bacteria, some fish, and squid.

2. Dinoflagellate Luciferin is thought to be derived from chlorophyll because it has similar structure and is found in dinoflagellates and euphasiid shrimp.

3. Vargulin, is found in the ostracod Vargula and is also used by the midshipman fish Poricthys. This is an interesting dietary link because the fish can not luminesce until they are fed luciferin bearing food.

4. Coelenterazine is the most common luciferin; it is found in many phyla- the radiolarians, ctenophores, cnidarians, squids, copepods, chaetognaths, and some fish and shrimp.

5. Firefly luciferin, which requires ATP as a cofactor in its reactions.

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

The Cell Model

What can I learn from the systems at play inside our body?

During the last week I did research on cells. They are in every organism. They are beautiful soft, liquid manufactories that organize our energy and life.

I compared the way cells live, work and communicate with the way that we (humans) do.

Around me I see that humans live very individually. We have few interaction with strangers, there is not much fusion going on as I see it.

This week I have looked at how I could facilitate a casual interaction between "cells".
I asked Dina Dedic, one of the phd students from KTH that joins this course, for help. During one morning we had a great conversation about the fascinating cells that build our body. Below 3 things that I find very interesting.

How do our borders become membranes: permeable?

Today I presented my findings and design concept of The Cell Model to the Biomimesis group at the Vasa museum.

It was great to get the help of a scientist during this project. With her help I got insights that I wouldn't have gotten otherwise. Afterwards Dina commented that she now feels part of this project. I think this is very valuable for any project where parties are involved from different disciplines.

Elephants mourning

Elephants mourning

Ask nature - Butterfly perspective

Some thoughts/questions that have been present this past week:

What would we (read humans) say if a butterfly decided to try to mimic how a shark moves in water and then spends ten years in a science lab/factory to develop a suit that makes him swim faster?

What would we say if another organism would look at the question "ask nature" in the same way as we do?

Biomimicry for the sake of mankind? 

I believe that the fact that we look at "nature" as something separated from "us" is a part of the problem. 

Sunday, 29 January 2012

So this sums up the thoughts and research that I have done about the rhino horn.

The rhinoceros horn is a unique composite that is made up primarily of keratin. -Keratin
molecules form two-strand molecules that are arranged to form intermediate laments (IFs).
These IFs surround a hair-like core that is generated from the nasal bone of the rhinoceros.
The lament density of rhinoceros horn is 7 mm2
and the average lament diameter is 100
m. Melanin and calcium are the two primary non-keratinous components of the rhinoceros
horn: melanin makes the horn more resistant to UV radiation while calcium makes it more
resistant to physical wear. The concentration of these two substances is higher in the center
of the horn and consequently the horn has a pointed structure. Water content also has a
large e ect on the behaviour of the horn: it has a proportional relationship to the elastic and
shear moduli of the horn. In their habitats, rhinoceroses use their horns to spar, dig for
water, and guide their o spring. Therefore the horn must be tough while resisting fracture.
It has a work of fracture of approximately 10 kJm2
. The values for many other mechanical
properties of the horn are unknown due to the di culty of obtaining the necessary samples.
Finally, rhinoceros horn research may lead to innovation within the eld of composites,
including internal-assembly processes and self-healing mechanisms.



Sunday, 22 January 2012

printing with bacteria

Looking back on day 1: KTH, Labscape, bacterial cultures, Innventia, paper, graphic media…made me think of this:

Jelte van Abbema did this experimental project in which he printed with bacteria. A posterbox is converted in some sort of huge petri dish with controlled conditions, in which bacteria will grow. The image will transform when the micro-organisms begin to grow over their printed boundaries. Nice project that explores the possibilities of bacteria in graphic media.

Walking in the winter

We have all noticed that it has been snowing/raining/snowing/raining/freezing/snowing/freezing on and and on... it makes life a real adventure. My easy-going 2 minute walk to the metro station became a dangerous task, I risk my life at least 2 times daily.

I learned from last year when I went through (and survived) my first nordic winter. I bought winter shoes: warm shoes with “good grip” under the sole.
These shoes help me being a bit more stable, but it happens more than occasionally that it feels as if the world under my feet slides away. Luckily I’m young and vital and able to catch myself most of the times - it is really embarrassing to fall into a slippery pool of winter slush.

This week during the first week of this course we climbed up a little hill close to Stockholms University. I was wearing my pair of winter shoes but I still felt clumsy and awkward walking around in this naturescape.
During this walkscape I realized I don’t really feel comfortable in this type of naturescape. So I did some research and looked at how different animals adapted to this type of naturescape so they survive, and feel comfortable.

Me and my flat mate are taking care of 2 cats of a friend of us.

This is Tibast.

And this is Lisa.

Lisa is a very normal, but a very old and angry lady cat.
Though, Tibast, is a young and vital mister cat. He is a typical cat that stems from the wild cats that live for example here in the north of Europe. His long hairs protect him from the cold. This type of cats are often quite big which also make them more cold resistant. I took a look under his feet and this is what I found.

Tibast has lots of long hairs between his toes. This will keep his feet warm while walking on cold surfaces covered in ice and snow. Clever. But how about the grip? I guess Tibast is anyway more stable than me because he has 4 legs and a tale to keep his balance, whereas I just have two legs and two clumsy arms trying to find a tree or stick to keep me from slipping.
But when I made this picture Tibast felt offended. Or I think so, because before I knew it he clutched his claws in the skin of my hand. Quite a surprise because where did these claws come from, they are not visible in the picture. So I guess, whenever Tibast feels slippery he will use his claws to grab hold of the surface he is walking on.

Animals on the Poles are doing similar things to keep themselves from slipping.

Polar bears.

And even the Walrus.

In town I have seen old people that attached a product to their shoes that will keep them from slipping. It doesn’t look very cool, but I also found this.

This is obviously really cool and I’m sure it would have made me feel much more secure during our naturescape walk. Though I doubt how "biomimicry-ish" this is. Did they take their inspiration from nature? It would be for example more efficient if you could "pull back your claws" if you don’t need them anymore. And what about the materials that we can use and the production process. I would like to know how the Inuits solved this problem, anyone up for a walkscape at the Arctic!

The scientist in his natural habitat?

Thursday, 19 January 2012

WALKSCAPES - Assignment 1

Confronting science and nature: Prejudices on science, on nature, and on collaboration. Science thinking versus design thinking, where do they meet? How can they be introduced to each other?

An exercise in articulating the prejudices, preconceptions and experiences of two environments: The lab of the scientists, and a natural habitat. The exercise consists of observing language, principles, philosophies, as well as colours, sounds, feelings and thoughts in the two environments, and to interpret (represent, communicate, manipulate) them in any of the following formats (or other if applicable): visual, sculptural, textual, performance.

Read the full description here.

Monday, 9 January 2012

The Course

Our Base Contrasts: ‘As scientists, we are trained to Kill’
‘Nature is trained to provide conditions conducive to further life’

How do these 2 statements meet in the middle? Get translated? Get experienced? Use and experience nature?

The above statements are contrasts in the approach to use nature as a source of inspiration in design and science. From the design perspective of EDG, how do these 2 worlds communicate with each other? This 5 week introduction course to biomimicry and biomimetics will explore these varying approaches, and try to extract nature’s science theory to an understandable level. You will start with a view into both worlds of science and nature through ‘walkscapes’.

We will create a foundation into the source of biomimicry and nature and view its organisms and systems through 3 levels of feedback loops - form, process and design. The student will then see science’s interpretation and innovation in the field of nature and design. Each student will be given a choice of a current KTH scientific research PHD project which will need to be communicated, translated and experienced, as part of the final exhibition. It is the student’s choice, and interpretation, which biomimesis route to take inspired from one of the 2 contrasting statements above. (or somewhere in between?) All work will be exhibited in the final week of this course (February 17).

The full course description is here.

Anna Maria, Åsmund and Mikael