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