CorvetteSummer may be over, but there’s still time to get some action footage while the weather’s nice. Wired reviews your options for point-of-view cameras–and yes, shows an electric skateboard holding its own against a Corvette.

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Windstalk 825x 525New Media alumnus Rob Hussey points to this story about a proposal to tap the wind’s energy with “windstalks” rather than windmills. The idea is to harness the ability of a column made of piezoelectric material to convert the stress of bending with the wind into fossil-free electricity. Unlike a battery of conventional wind turbines, this artificial prairie would produce no friction and minimal noise. And look a mite prettier than a giant metal turbine.

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Is your broccoli still organic if it’s harvested by droids? Plus “microRNA” in food can affect your genes, and glow-in-the-dark bacteria are the new invisible ink.

“Wired reports on Harvest Automation, a Massachusetts company developing small robots that can perform basic agricultural labor. The ones currently being tested in greenhouses and plant nurseries are ‘knee-high, wheeled machines.’ ‘Each robot has a gripper for grasping pots, a deck for carrying pots, and an array of sensors to keep track of where it is and what’s around it. Teams of robots zip around nursery fields, single-mindedly spacing and grouping plants. Key to making the robots flexible and cost-effective is designing them to work only with information provided by their sensors. They don’t construct a global map of their environment, and they don’t use GPS. The robots have sensors that detect boundary markers, a laser range finder to detect objects in front of them, and a gyroscope for navigating by dead reckoning. The robots determine how far they’ve traveled by keeping track of wheel rotations.’”

http://hardware.slashdot.org/story/11/11/13/0410217/startup-testing-mobile-farmbots

You are what you eat–and your genes have to sit up and take notice when you do.

“Tiny bits of genetic material, called microRNAs, can make their way from the food you eat into your blood stream, and change how your genes are expressed, according to a new study. A team of Chinese scientists found tiny bits of white rice microRNA floating around in people’s blood after a meal. When they looked at what was happening on a cellular level, they found that the microRNAs were changing gene expression, decreasing levels of a receptor that filters out LDL (bad) cholesterol. When the scientists gave mice both rice and a chemical to block the microRNAs, their levels of that receptor returned to normal—showing that the microRNAs weren’t just swimming through the blood stream, but acting on genes in the animals’ cells.” http://science.slashdot.org/story/11/09/21/2251238/What-You-Eat-Affects-Your-Genes

Move over e-ink–now there’s b-ink.

“Researchers have invented a new form of secret messaging using bacteria that make glowing proteins only under certain conditions. In addition to being useful to spies, the new technique could also allow companies to encode secret identifiers into crops, seeds, or other living commodities.”
http://science.slashdot.org/story/11/09/28/2010234/Encoding-Messages-In-Bacteria

Whether sea levels rise or fall, your amphibious house will ride the waves of climate change.

A controversial new study suggests that most of humankind’s maladies — from wars to epidemics to economic downturns — can be traced to climate fluctuations….

Climate shifts were a statistically significant cause of social disturbance, war, migration, epidemics, famine, and nutritional status, the researchers report online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. And climate caused famines, economic downturns, and catastrophic human events far more often than did any of the other 14 variables. The most direct way in which extreme climate shifts influence human society is through agriculture, Zhang says; a falling supply of crops will drive up the price of gold and cause inflation. Similarly, epidemics can be exacerbated by famine. And when people are miserable, they are likely to become angry with their governments and each other, resulting in war.

But golden ages rise out of these dark periods, the team argues. For instance, a 100-year cold period beginning in 1560 caused shortened crop growing seasons. The researchers found a causal linkage with a decline in average human height by nearly an inch during this period, and the century was rife with disease and conflict. But the world began to warm in 1650; when Charles II was crowned king of England in 1660, the coronation sparked the Enlightenment era in Europe.

http://feeds.wired.com/~r/wired/index/~3/3KOUud3C3M4/

Meanwhile a different study pins a mini Ice Age in Europe on Christopher Columbus.

“Science News reports on a story which blames a centuries long cooling of Europe on the discovery of the new world. Scientists contend that the native depopulation and deforestation had a chilling effect on world-wide climate. ‘Trees that filled in this territory pulled billions of tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, diminishing the heat-trapping capacity of the atmosphere and cooling climate, says Richard Nevle, a geochemist at Stanford University.’

http://news.slashdot.org/story/11/10/14/0345253/columbus-blamed-for-mini-ice-age

In this century, rising sea levels have inspired a new architectural style that might be called the ‘amphibian avant-garde.’

“Venice may soon be sharing its ‘Floating City’ moniker thanks to a research project developing ‘amphibian houses’ that are designed to float in the event of a flood. The FLOATEC project sees the primary market for the houses as the Netherlands, whose low-lying land makes it particularly susceptible to the effects of rising sea levels. Such housing technology could also allow small island-states in the Indian and Pacific Oceans that are at the risk of disappearing in the next 100 years to maintain their claim to statehood through the use of artificial, floating structures.”

http://science.slashdot.org/story/11/09/05/007211/Floating-Houses-Designed-For-Low-Lying-Countries

Philips Microbe House 5Imagine an apartment where kitchen waste provides electricity, your interactive bathroom mirror helps prevent disease, and mushrooms in your composter devour plastic bags.

If you call yourself a twenty-first century design student, you should be studying this.

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Greece Volos BarterAccording to Richard Florida, readily available digital tools like Firefox and Final Cut were supposed to empower artists, designers, and other “creatives” to steer the world’s future in a 21st-century Creative Economy. So why aren’t we all employed in creative industries by now?

It’s easy to point to the usual suspects like job outsourcing to China and Wall Street fat cats. But it is also true that some creative economies are thriving–even in epicenters of economic recession such as Greece–but they are organized around barter and free software rather than dollars or drachma.

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Thought up a foldable power-cord or a new device for straining pasta? Pitch it to “social product-development” Web site Quirky, where crowdsourcing meets professionals.

Now if only Quirky didn’t outsource its manufacturing to China. Maybe someone could launch a site that connects local ideas to local fabricators. (Any of your neighbors have 3D printers…?)

“Quirky was based on my realization of how hard it is to find a manufacturer, get financing (and) know all the disciplines like industrial design, mechanical engineering, prototyping, merchandising, retail logistics,” [Ben] Kaufman, 24, told Wired.com by phone. “All these things need to come together just to push one little product out into the real world. Basically, if you have the right idea, we’ll do all the heavy lifting to make the idea you have in your head see the light of day.”

http://feeds.wired.com/~r/wired/index/~3/pBPTlR7_CjA/

Digital Humanities LogoTechnology is usually associated with scientists, but now that artsy academics have tasted the power of digital media, the digital humanities are going full tilt. Featuring everything from best-selling Kindle authors to sociologists of Twitter, this week-long on-ramp takes tweed-jacketed academics from 0 to 60 onto the information superhighway.

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Donkeys, solar power, and trash are the Internet Service Providers for censored Syrians, beleaguered Afghans, and others without government-sponsored Internet.

These DIY ISPs would make great solutions to the privacy concerns about social networks cited in some recent NMDnet posts–and give new meaning to the term “data mules.”

Syrians Using Donkeys Instead of DSL After Gov’t Shuts Down Internet

“Rebelling Syrians are using all possible alternate methods to pass information to the world amidst a total blackout on the internet by the Government. Believe it or not, Donkeys are a part of the revolution now. From the article: ‘To get the news out, activists have been smuggling videos to Jordan through the desert and across a nearly 80-kilometer border Jordan shares with Syria. Some risk approaching the border with Jordanian cellphones to report to the outside world and send clips. It’s a dangerous task because the Syrian and Jordanian armies traditionally have the area under heavy surveillance to prevent the smuggling of drugs and weapons into the kingdom or further to the Gulf states.’”

http://tech.slashdot.org/story/11/05/15/1810215/Syrians-Using-Donkeys-Instead-of-DSL-After-Govt-Shuts-Down-Internet

The US military is taking note:

Move Over, Robots: Army Prefers Flesh-and-Blood Mules

The experimental four-legged, pack-hauling robots aren’t gonna be ready for frontline duty any time soon. So the Army is considering a big step backward in frontline logistics: more mules and donkeys, with a revived “Animal Corps” to oversee the four-legged recruits.

http://feeds.wired.com/~r/wired/index/~3/ct7GAqIUi8Y/

The Afghans are at it:

Afghans Build Open Source Internet From Trash

“Residents of Jalalabad have built the FabFi network: an open-source system that uses common building materials and off-the-shelf electronics to transmit wireless ethernet signals across distances of up to several miles.”

http://hardware.slashdot.org/story/11/06/26/0322238/Afghans-Build-Open-Source-Internet-From-Trash

And there’s more:

Look Ma, No Internet! Free Software Gives Text-Messaging New Reach

Frontline SMS, an open source software that turns a laptop into an internet-free communication hub has been used in more than 50 countries by thousands of organizations.

http://feeds.wired.com/~r/wired/index/~3/C4bjgmQ7rT8/

Berkeley’s working on solar-powered cell phone networks.

Low-Cost DIY Cell Network Runs On Solar

Shareable writes with word of the intriguing work of a Berkeley professor who has developed a “low-cost, low-power cell base station featuring easy, off-the grid deployment with solar or wind power; local services autonomous from national carriers; and an impressive portfolio of voice & data services (not just GSM). It’s designed to connect rural areas in the developing world, but could have wider application like disaster recovery.”

http://mobile.slashdot.org/story/11/08/28/0048211/Low-Cost-DIY-Cell-Network-Runs-On-Solar.

Limewire’s founder wants to distribute pedals as well as MP3s.

Peer-to-Peer Pioneer Sees New York Bicycles Pier-to-Pier

Mark Gorton founded LimeWire, but his true passion is transit — specifically, bikes — and sharply curtailing the role of cars in our cities. We sit down with him to find out why. http://feeds.wired.com/~r/wired/index/~3/8SOZGbSiQ84/

In the first program of its kind, Apple will now recycle your old laptop or desktop PC for free. And you might net a few bucks toward your next device.

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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.”

Desert3d digital fabricators are all the rage among DIY designers, and promise to decentralize the physical economy in the way the Internet decentralized the information economy. On the other hand, many environmentalists just see the fabber as another energy-sucking contraption that fills our world with plastic gewgaws.

Now an art student has juryrigged a “solar sinter,” replacing a fabber’s high-tech laser with focused sunlight and toxic resin with sand. It all fits in a suitcase he brought to the Egyptian desert for a test run.

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Wind deadline is 18 May, requires “strong social media skills” and a laptop (sounds like an NMD student to me). Also two internships in the health sector.

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Why buy your own car/CDs/power tools, when your neighbors already have loads of them?

Rachel Botsman makes the case:

http://www.ted.com/talks/rachel_botsman_the_case_for_collaborative_consumption.html

NeighborGoods is already up to 2.0:

http://www.wired.com/beyond_the_beyond/2011/03/neighborgoods-kickstarter/ (Via Bruce Sterling).

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/mickipedia/neighbors-helping-neighborgoods

Thanks to you, NeighborGoods has quickly become the leading online community for local resource sharing. Now, we’re reaching out directly to our members to help us take NeighborGoods to the next level.

We’re gearing up to launch NeighborGoods 2.0, which focuses on creating sharing communities for organizations, companies and and groups of all sizes.

Smartphones help:

People will ditch their cars and embrace mass transit if they have the tools to manage their commutes. Enter the smartphone … http://feeds.wired.com/~r/wired/index/~3/iPSyBkh6X_g/ Xatori unveils a free iPhone app that enables drivers to punch in their destinations and locate outlet owners who are willing to share. http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=fa66fe847e6ccd56e61dde5770c4ffbf

Now, to Find a Parking Spot, Drivers Look on Their Phones http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=d9838be80c3361a169de04e52c21ba99

And Zipcar’s IPO is meteoric:

http://feeds.wired.com/~r/wired/index/~3/vQEd37Mmv0A/ via Byline

Zipcar raises $174 million and sees its stock price soar a whopping 60 percent in its first day as a public company. The decade-old car sharing company, maybe the most disruptive entrant in the automobile rental space since Rent-A-Wreck, is now a billion-dollar operation.

Reversing a trend to give corporations all the rights of humans, the US Supreme Court decided AT&T isn’t eligible for “personal privacy” when it comes to the release of embarrassing information submitted to the government. Meanwhile, Bolivia’s new law could give ecosystems the right to sue polluters.

http://feeds.wired.com/~r/wired/index/~3/0tNjh7HCWgo/ via Byline

Bolivia’s Law of Mother Earth is set to pass, and on Wednesday the United Nations will discuss a proposed treaty based on the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth. Both mandate legal recognition of ecosystems’ right to exist.

Wired speculates that this could help deter ecological disasters.

http://feeds.wired.com/~r/wired/index/~3/QBuZq21YP1w/ via Byline

Hundreds of lawsuits have flowed from the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe, filed by citizens, states and the federal government. And someday, perhaps, the Gulf of Mexico’s ecosystems will also file suit.

While it’s surprising to hear this Supreme Court rule against corporations, maybe it’s just part of a conclusion by society in general that “privacy is so twentieth century.”

http://yro.slashdot.org/story/11/03/02/159242/Supreme-Court-Rules-On-Corporate-Privacy?from=rss via Byline

“The Supreme Court unanimously decided (PDF) Monday that AT&T can’t keep embarrassing corporate information that it submits to the government out of public view; “personal privacy” rights do not apply to corporations. “We trust that AT&T will not take it personally” concluded the ruling.”

09orono lgh Perma may 03 illWant to try a helping of edible landscape? Mosey over to LongGreenHouse this Friday and Wednesday for a permaculture field day.

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Calibamboo bCalifornia-based bamboo supplier and renewable material promoter CaliBamboo offers free materials to the best project, and last month NMD alumnus Chris Bagley bagged the prize for his bamboo ski capstone.

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VwVolkswagon has unveiled a plug-in hybrid that gets 260 miles to the gallon and can go 20 miles on electricity alone. At 24 grams of CO2 per kilometer, the XL1 emits less than a third of the emissions of a 2010 Prius.

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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.”

Feel guilty about stuffing all that giftwrapping in the trash? Stuff it in the garden instead, thanks to these examples of growable packaging.

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