MonthOctober 2012

Students Turning Away From College And Toward Apprenticeships?

I don’t know if this is common enough to call a trend, but it does sound interesting:

“I was planning on getting a degree in international relations, but with financial aid and how difficult it is to pay for college and everything,” she says. “So when Siemens came along and gave me the offer, it was too good of an opportunity to just let it go.

With college costs rising and student debt mounting, a group of college-prep kids in Charlotte are opting for an alternative route: European-style apprenticeships.

Siemens hired her and five other apprentices last year. These days, Espinal works on the factory floor.

“Running a machine, learning about programs, how to set up a machine for a program, also learning how to use tools and learning how to read blueprints,” she says.

NPR: A Different Road To Work, Bypassing College Dreams

Comic: Prequel To Changes By Ales Kot and Morgan Jeske

Change is a forthcoming comic by Wild Children author Ales Kot and “Disappearing Town” artist Morgan Jeske.

It’s scheduled for 12/12/12 from Image, but today Kot published some prequel pages:

Change prequel page 1

Change prequel page 2

The Biocurious DIY BioPrinters

Biocurious InkJetBioPrinter

bioprint petri dish

The Biocurious biohacker lab in the San Francisco Bay Area (Sunnyvale, specifically) is working on a couple of DIY bioprinters, InkJetBioPrinter and the HackteriaBot.

They’re built out of old CD-ROM drives, recycled ink cartridges and a open source Arduino boards. So far I think they just print bacteria? From the InkJetBioPrinter page:

We’ve disassembled an abandoned HP 5150 inkjet printer for use as a bioprinter. So far, we’ve pried open some ink cartridges, filles the black cartridge with arabinose, printed the BioCurious logo on filter paper, put the paper on a lawn of pGLO E. coli, and watched our logo light up in GFP!

Check out some pics on our Flickr group here: http://www.flickr.com/groups/bioprinter

Next, we want to start printing live cells, starting with E. coli. We’ll probably print the cells on a sheet of filter material and put it onto an agar plate, or pour a thin, dense layer of agar on a support material, and feed that into the printer directly. We’ll see…

(via H+ Magazine)

Why Humans Will Probably Never Photosynthesize

cover of the book Top Secret

BBC Future has an interesting round-up of animals that can photosynthsize like plants, but concludes:

Even if the symbionts took, even if the controlling genes were successfully added, would this make a difference to us? Probably not. Photosynthesis is a useless ability without some way of exposing yourself to as much of the Sun’s energy as possible. That requires a large surface area, relative to their volume. Plants achieve that with large, horizontal, light-capturing surfaces – leaves. Elysia, the sea slug, being flat and green, looks like a living leaf. It’s also translucent, so light can pass through its tissues to the chloroplasts within.

Humans, on the other hand, are pretty much opaque columns. Even if our skin was riddled with working chloroplasts, they would only manufacture a fraction of the nutrients we need to survive. “Animals need a lot of energy, and moving at all doesn’t really jive well with photosynthesis,” says Agapakis. “If you imagine a person who had to get all of their energy from the sun, they’d have to be very still. Then, they’d need a high surface area, with leafy protrusions. At that point, the person’s a tree.”

Full Story: BBC: Will we ever… photosynthesise like plants?

(Via Disinfo)

Hakim Bey Interview From 2010

From e-flux journal 2010:

Well, when I was a child I was of course fascinated by adventure stories, figures like Richard Halliburton and other world travelers who wrote books for children, and National Geographic magazine—I inherited a whole closet full of National Geographic issues going back to 1911 from a friend. And then when I grew up, I became interested in Eastern Mysticism, the way everybody began to be in the 1960s. I specifically wondered whether Sufism was still a living reality or whether it was just something in books. There was no way of telling at that time. There were no Sufis practicing in America, or at least none that we could discover. I was a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War, and then we had May ’68, and that revolution failed. It clearly wasn’t going to happen. So I decided to make my trip to the East and discover whether Sufism was a living reality or not. And, of course, it turned out that it was. And so were a lot of other things that I hadn’t even anticipated, like tantric Hinduism, which I also became fascinated by while I was in India. So that all lasted from 1968 to 1980 or ‘81, when I went to Southeast Asia. I also went to Indonesia for a short, but very influential, trip. And after 1970 I lived in Iran, where I wrote criticism for the Shiraz Festival of the Arts. That’s how I got to meet Peter Brook and Robert Wilson and all the people that I later worked with or was influenced by. I also met an Indonesian artist named Sardono Kusumo, who I later found again in Jakarta when I was traveling in Southeast Asia. He gave me the names and addresses of all these uncles everywhere in Java who were all involved in dance, puppetry, or mysticism; a fantastic family. So I traveled around Java from uncle to uncle, and performance to performance. And they have a special kind of mysticism there called Kebatinan, which is kind of like Sufism but not quite. It’s different, and it would take a long time to explain why.

And on the internet:

Well, I have to admit that, like everybody else in the 1980s, I was much more optimistic about these things. And in some of my writing I may have given the impression that I would become some sort of cyber libertarian. I have many friends in that camp, but then as time went on, I became more of a Luddite. I believe that technology should not consist of an attack on the social. And if you think about the symptom that everybody talks about, the loss of privacy, or even the redefinition of what privacy could possibly be, well, I see this as an actual attack on society. And it’s interesting that it comes at the same time as Thatcher saying that there is no such thing as society. It’s an ideological move against the social. And it’s not for the glorification of the individual, either. To me, the individual also loses in this formula. But it’s primarily meant to break society down into individual consumer entities, because that’s what money wants. Capital itself wants everyone to have everything. It doesn’t want you to share your car with anyone, it wants each person to have their own. And by the way, the US has achieved this—we now have one car for every adult in the country. Capital wants everybody to have to own everything, and to share nothing. And the social result of this is ghastly. It’s scary, frightening. For me it’s apocalyptic.

Full Story: e-flux: In Conversation with Hakim Bey

Scientists Plan To Upload Bee Consciousness To Robots

A bee

George Dvorsky writes:

A new project has been announced in which scientists at the Universities of Sheffield and Sussex are hoping to create the first accurate computer simulation of a honey bee brain — and then upload it into an autonomous flying robot.

This is obviously a huge win for science — but it could also save the world. The researchers hope a robotic insect could supplement or replace the shrinking population of honey bees that pollinate essential plant life.

io9: New project aims to upload a honey bee’s brain into a flying insectobot by 2015

Previously: Can You Imagine a Future Where London Police Bees Conduct Genetic Surveillance?

Photo by Steve Jurvetson / CC

Interview with Stelarc, A Grinder Before It Was Cool

Wired has a profile of performance artist Stelarc, whose extreme body modifications predate the modern grinder movement by several years. He’s probably most famous for the third ear that he has on his arm, which is partly surgically constructed and partly cell-grown.

“At present it’s only a relief of an ear,” Stelarc said. “When the ear becomes a more 3-D structure we’ll reinsert the small microphone that connects to a wireless transmitter.” In any Wi-Fi hotspot, he said, it will become internet-enabled. “So if you’re in San Francisco and I’m in London, you’ll be able to listen in to what my ear is hearing, wherever you are and wherever I am.” […]

William Gibson, a friend of Stelarc’s, once wrote: “Stelarc’s art never seemed futuristic to me. If it were, I doubt I would respond to it. Rather, I experience it in a context that includes circuses, freak shows, medical museums, the passions of solitary inventors. I associate it with da Vinci’s ornithopter, eccentric nineteenth-century velocipedes, and Victorian schemes for electroplating the dead — though not retrograde in any way. Instead, it seems timeless, as though each performance constitutes a moment equivalent to those collected in Humphrey Jennings’ Pandaemonium: The Coming of the Man-Machine in the Industrial Revolution — moments of the purest technologically induced cognitive disjunction.”

Wired Underwire: For Extreme Artist Stelarc, Body Mods Hint at Humans’ Possible Future

Meanwhile, doctors have grown an ear on a woman’s arm. I was a little confused by the story, but I think what they’re doing is growing the ear on her arm with intention of moving it to her head later.

Are Those Spidery Black Things On Mars Dangerous? (Maybe)

Black spidery things on the surface of Mars

NPR’s Robert Krulwich writes:

What are those things? They were first seen in 1998; they don’t look like anything we have here on Earth. To this day, no one is sure what they are, but we now know this: They come, then they go. Every Martian spring, they appear out of nowhere, showing up — 70 percent of the time — where they were the year before. They pop up suddenly, sometimes overnight. When winter comes, they vanish.

As the sun gets hotter, they get more spidery.

Krulwich explains that we still don’t know what these are, but the leading explanation is that they are geysers kicking up black dust. From the surface of Mars, they might look a little something like this:

An artist's rendering of Martian geysers.

Full Story: NPR: Are Those Spidery Black Things On Mars Dangerous? (Maybe)

Awesome Free Witchstep Album From Bruxa

My favorite album of the year thus far is Portland trio Bruxa‘s new album Victimeyez. It’s an occult informed dark hip hop album, with tastes of electro, chopped and screwed, witch-house and dubstep thrown in. They call it witchstep.

The digital version Victimeyez is free to download and was released by Mishka, a streetwear company in New York City that also puts out some Pyschic TV merch. A cassette release will follow from Sweating Tapes, the label that released their debut EP Eye On Everybody last year.

They’re from Portland, but I have no idea who they are. I randomly stumbled across their first EP on Bandcamp and was hooked — it was my second favorite album of 2011 (after Zomby’s Dedication). Discovering Sweating Tapes set me down a rabbit hole of Portland-based dark electronic scene that I had no idea existed.

3-D Printer Company Seizes Machine From Desktop Gunsmith

Back in August I linked to the Wiki Weapons Project, a group trying to use 3D printers to “print” a fully working gun.

But Wired reports the team has hit a snag:

But last Wednesday, less than a week after receiving the printer, Wilson received an e-mail from Stratasys: The company wanted its printer returned. Wilson wrote back, and said he believed using the printer to manufacture a firearm would not break federal laws regarding at-home weapons manufacturing. For one, the gun wouldn’t be for sale. Wilson added that he didn’t have a firearms manufacturers license.

Stratasys’s legal counsel wrote back: “It is the policy of Stratasys not to knowingly allow its printers to be used for illegal purposes. Therefore, please be advised that your lease of the Stratasys uPrint SE is cancelled at this time and Stratasys is making arrangements to pick up the printer,” stated the letter, which Wilson posted to Defense Distributed’s website. The next day, contractors hired by the company arrived at Wilson’s apartment in an Enterprise rental van and took the printer.

Full Story: Wired Danger Room: 3-D Printer Company Seizes Machine From Desktop Gunsmith

Wilson says the ATF has investigated him and determined that although he isn’t technically breaking any laws, the project is in a legal gray area.

Still, it’s only a matter of time before someone figures this out, and not everyone who buys or leases a 3D printer is going to advertise what they are using it for.

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