Jul 082011
 

Sustainable ecosystems reuse so-called waste in closed loop processes. Scientists are now applying this principle to human manufacturing: making flowers from shoes, meat from sewage, and on the space shuttle, water from pee.

NASA’s New Bag Turns Urine Into Sports Drink http://idle.slashdot.org/story/11/07/07/1152221/NASAs-New-Bag-Turns-Urine-Into-Sports-Drink “NASA’s Atlantis shuttle is set to launch this Friday, and its crew will be testing an innovative device that can recycle human urine into a sugary sports drink. The bag uses forward osmosis technology and features a semi-permeable membrane capable of isolating water from virtually any liquid. Recycling urine in this way has a significant effect on a ship’s payload, and considering that a single pound adds $10,000 of cost, that slight weight difference can translate to serious savings.”

Wednesday, June 15, 2011 7:20 PM Japanese Scientist Creates Meat Substitute From Sewage http://idle.slashdot.org/story/11/06/15/219200/Japanese-Scientist-Creates-Meat-Substitute-From-Sewage “Hold on to your hamburgers — Japanese scientist Mitsyuki Ikeda at the Environmental Assessment Center in Okayama has invented an artificial meat substitute made from human feces. The unseemly meal is made by extracting protein and lipids from ‘sewage mud.’ The lipids are then combined with a reaction enhancer and whipped into ‘meat’ in an exploder. Ikeda makes the ‘meat’ more palatable by adding things like soy protein.”

Biodegradable Sneakers Sprout Flowers When Planted http://news.slashdot.org/story/11/02/23/2133202/Biodegradable-Sneakers-Sprout-Flowers-When-Planted “People may joke about their dirty old sneakers turning into science projects or mini ecosystems, but once OAT Shoes’ compostable sneakers become commercially available within the next several weeks … let’s just say, those same people may no longer be joking when they make those kind of statements. Made using hemp, cork, bio-cotton, certified biodegradable plastics, chlorine-free bleach and other nontoxic materials, the shoes are designed to completely break down when buried in the ground – the first batch will even come with seeds in their tongues, so that wildflowers will sprout up in commemoration of users’ planted, expired kicks.”

May 222011
 

The Marine Environmental Research Institute (MERI) is hiring someone with writing, technical and graphics skills at the MERI Center for Marine Studies in Blue Hill, Maine. Meanwhile this Tuesday the Bangor Chamber of Commerce is showcasing business advice from L. L. Bean, Black Dinah Chocolatiers, and yes, Shipyard Brewing Company.

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Jan 232011
 

Just when you thought slime molds, which alternate between individual and collective organisms, couldn’t get any weirder.

If amoebas can grow their own food, you have even less of an excuse for not doing so yourself. And no, Farmville doesn’t count.

Slime Molds Are Earth’s Smallest, Oldest Farmers http://feeds.wired.com/~r/wired/index/~3/7UzmakhSZzY/ via Byline Colonies of a bizarre microbial goo have been found practicing agriculture at a scale tinier than any seen before….

When food is short, hundreds of thousands of amoebas come together, fusing into a single entity. It may crawl off as a slug in search of richer pastures, then form a stalk topped by a “fruiting body” that bursts to disperse a few lucky amoebas-turned-spores. Or it may form the stalk right away, without crawling.

It’s been thought that slime molds simply scavenge, eating bacteria they like and oozing out the rest. In laboratories, researchers “cure” slime molds of their bacteria by allowing them to purge themselves on Petri dishes. But Brock, who studies how slime-mold cells communicate and self-organize, kept finding bacteria in the fruiting bodies of some slime molds and not others….

They found that some strains didn’t gorge themselves and “lick the plate clean” of bacteria, but instead saved some inside of the colony. They were farmers, and fared better in some soils than their nonfarming counterparts.

From the original article:

“The behavior falls short of the kind of ‘farming’ that more advanced animals do; ants, for example, nurture a single fungus species that no longer exists in the wild. But the idea that an amoeba that spends much of its life as a single-celled organism could hold short of consuming a food supply before decamping is an astonishing one. More than just a snack for the journey of dispersal, the idea is that the bacteria that travel with the spores can ‘seed’ a new bacterial colony, and thus a food source in case the new locale should be lacking in bacteria.”

Nov 042010
 

For centuries, the Chinese have been treating disease as an imbalance in the body. The latest research into body-as-ecosystem reminds us that if bacteria outnumber native cells in the human body by 10 to 1, we’d better figure out how to get along with all those neighbors living under our skin.

http://science.slashdot.org/story/10/10/19/0126252/The-Effect-of-Internal-Bacteria-On-the-Human-Body?from=rss

meckdevil writes with this excerpt from the Miller-McCune magazine: “In a series of recent findings, researchers describe bacteria that communicate in sophisticated ways, take concerted action, influence human physiology, alter human thinking, bioengineer the environment and control their own evolution. … The abilities of bacteria are interesting to understand in their own right, and knowing how bacteria function in the biosphere may lead to new sources of energy or ways to degrade toxic chemicals, for example. But emerging evidence on the role of bacteria in human physiology brings the wonder and promise — and the hazards of misunderstanding them — up close and personal. … Because in a very real sense, bacteria are us. Recent research has shown that gut microbes control or influence nutrient supply to the human host, the development of mature intestinal cells and blood vessels, the stimulation and maturation of the immune system, and blood levels of lipids such as cholesterol. They are, therefore, intimately involved in the bodily functions that tend to be out of kilter in modern society: metabolism, cardiovascular processes and defense against disease. Many researchers are coming to view such diseases as manifestations of imbalance in the ecology of the microbes inhabiting the human body. If further evidence bears this out, medicine is about to undergo a profound paradigm shift, and medical treatment could regularly involve kindness to microbes.”

Meanwhile scientists are beginning to look at bacteria as the appropriate model for complex human behavior rather than the artificial intelligence algorithms of game theory. Perhaps Jeremy Rifkin was right: the 20th century may have culminated in the computer, but the 21st century will focus on cytoplasm over silicon.

http://science.slashdot.org/story/10/10/12/1759234/Gambling-On-Bacteria

An anonymous reader writes “When it comes to gambling, many people rely on game theory, a branch of applied mathematics that attempts to measure the choices of others to inform their own decisions. It’s used in economics, politics, medicine — and, of course, Las Vegas. But recent findings from a Tel Aviv University researcher suggest that we may put ourselves on the winning side if we look to bacteria instead. According to Prof. Eshel Ben-Jacob of Tel Aviv University’s School of Physics and Astronomy, current game theory can’t account for bacteria’s natural decision-making abilities — it’s just too simplistic. Understanding bacteria’s reactions to stressful and hazardous conditions may improve decision-making processes in any human arena from everyday life to political elections.”

Jan 222010
 

I’m not making that title up–it’s a book about how the stuff we buy ends up under our skin, quite literally:

Over a four-day period, our intrepid (and perhaps foolhardy) authors ingest and inhale a host of things that surround us all every day, all of which are suspected of being toxic and posing long term health risks to humans. By revealing the pollution load in their bodies before and after the experiment – and the results in most cases are downright frightening – they tell the inside story of seven common substances.

Jan 222010
 

I’m not making that title up–it’s a book about how the stuff we buy ends up under our skin, quite literally:

Over a four-day period, our intrepid (and perhaps foolhardy) authors ingest and inhale a host of things that surround us all every day, all of which are suspected of being toxic and posing long term health risks to humans. By revealing the pollution load in their bodies before and after the experiment – and the results in most cases are downright frightening – they tell the inside story of seven common substances.

Jan 222010
 

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I’m not making that title up–it’s a book about how the stuff we buy ends up under our skin, quite literally:

Over a four-day period, our intrepid (and perhaps foolhardy) authors ingest and inhale a host of things that surround us all every day, all of which are suspected of being toxic and posing long term health risks to humans. By revealing the pollution load in their bodies before and after the experiment – and the results in most cases are downright frightening – they tell the inside story of seven common substances.

http://slowdeathbyrubberduck.com/ (via Vanessa Vobis)