It’s a myth almost universally believed, that sits at the core of liberal technocratic thought, and has been embedded in practically every other work of speculative fiction for the last half century. You can sum it up like this: 'When we go into space, we will all magically become nice.'...It’s early days, but if we really want to create a progressive new world then issues like these should be at the hearts of our efforts from the very start. — The Guardian
The longtime space-age Manifest Destiny of humans inhabiting Mars and the prominently white, European male perspective that narrative perpetually emphasizes has become a bubbling multi-faceted discussion among science bloggers as Elon Musk's staunch ambitions to ultimately turn humans into a...
Instagram may very well have enabled a whole generation of false artisans—and even encouraged cliché street imagery by promoting hashtags like #middleoftheroad and #strideby through its Weekend Hashtag Project—but the effect may not be so terrible. Quoted in The Telegraph in 2011, Teru Kuwayama, a photojournalist who is now photo community manager at Facebook, compared the rise of Instagram to the advent of electronic music, both of which stimulated “amateur expression.” — americanphotomag.com
Mock-ups of the so-called ‘crabots’ are featured in lengthy planning documents submitted to the City of Mountain View Council in Silicon Valley [...]
‘Our objective is to create a solution that can be assembled efficiently and economically within pre-erected canopy structures by means of small, easily manoeuvrable cranes.’
‘Through the life of the buildings this [will] allow reconfiguration and maintenance…of the canopy envelope from within.’ — architectsjournal.co.uk
The new Googleplex campus expansion, designed by BIG and Heatherwick Studios in collaboration to accommodate 20,000 new Mountain View employees, will be constructed by "an army of robot-crane hybrids", the Architect's Journal reports. Citing planning documents Google submitted to Mountain View...
Can a high-profile company led by a celebrity CEO come within two weeks of bankruptcy without anyone noticing? In early 2013, ...Tesla Motors came so close to running out of cash that its brash leader, Elon Musk, approached Google about buying the company, according to a new Musk biography. A surge in sales of the company’s pricey Model S sedan staved off disaster. Musk broke off the Google talks, no longer needing a white knight. And no one outside the two companies knew about it. — SF Gate
[Mark Herrema] and Kenton Kimmel, a high school classmate, founded the Irvine, California-based company Newlight Technologies in 2003. After years of research, the team unveiled a way to produce plastic from carbon emissions that is actually more affordably priced than oil-based plastics.
The "secret sauce" is a biocatalyst that combines air and methane, and reassembles all of the carbon, hydrogen and oxygen molecules into a thermoplastic the makers call AirCarbon. — Smithsonian
Newlight's work appears really interesting, addressing two separate but related issues: "first, oil dependency, by replacing oil with captured carbon emissions, and second, climate change, by creating a market-driven carbon capture platform." Basically, the technology comprises using a biocatalyst...
Place cells, which fire when the brain recognizes a corresponding geographical landmark (like your house, or the Space Needle) [offer] a two-dimensional map of familiar environments [...]
Grid cells ... are not tied to particular places — but are adjusted as needed to mark off the space around us [...]
Now, researchers from University College London have shown how grid cells help us combine mental maps, joining rooms into a house, blocks into a neighborhood and neighborhoods into a city. — nextcity.org
A Chinese construction company is claiming to be the world’s fastest builder after erecting a 57-storey skyscraper in 19 working days in central China.
Broad Sustainable Building, a prefab construction firm, put up the rectangular, glass and steel Mini Sky City in the Hunan provincial capital of Changsha, assembling three floors a day using a modular method [...].
The company now has ambitions to assemble the world’s tallest skyscraper, at 220 floors, in only three months. — theguardian.com
But supplementing that aesthetic of “the future” sketched in imaginary edifice, the full SF vision of the future city is a mosaic, constructed from fragments of the cities that we recognize, including symbols that are decidedly from the past. [...]
If SF functions by taking the world we know and altering it with a constructed future fantasy, the Statue of Liberty serves as the junction point, the axis where the speculative fantasy begins and ends. — motherboard.vice.com
It’s a Thursday morning in Beijing, and the world’s most famous living artist, Ai Weiwei, is sitting with one of the world’s most controversial technologists, Jacob Appelbaum, in the second-floor lobby of the East Hotel. [...]
On a whim, Ai suggests that they call Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who has been living for the last two years at the Ecuadorian embassy in London. [...]
Ai and Assange talk for several minutes about the mundanities of the dissident life. — fusion.net
James Biber can see Russia from his roof. Mr. Biber, the architect of the USA Pavilion at Expo Milano 2015, the world’s fair that is racing to meet its opening date on Friday, also has a good view of Kuwait next door and Iran across the street.
“It’s really a kind of identity parade,” Mr. Biber, 62, said about the jumble. [...] “It’s every nation attempting to express itself in a building. It is the very best and very worst of design you’re going to see in its concentrated form.” — nytimes.com
Self-driving cars will certainly change our habits on the road. But truly autonomous vehicles will also affect how we work, says Tim Brown, chief executive officer and president of design consultancy IDEO...Without having to navigate city streets, people will be more productive during their commute. IDEO also envisions self-driving trucks...delivering everything from new jeans to grilled cheese. Most radical of all: Your workplace could be set on wheels to travel to you, rather than you to it. — Bloomberg
Since terrorism has become one of the guiding forces in urban design, the incorporation of immense fortifications into everyday streets has spawned an entire industry of defensive architecture [...]
The latest developments in this rising tide of urban paranoia are on display this week at the Counter Terror Expo in west London’s Olympia, a sprawling trade show that proudly claims to showcase “the key terror threat areas under one roof”. It is an enormous supermarket of neuroses [...]. — theguardian.com
A group of venture capitalists, architects, engineers, and marketing gurus, under the name Los Angeles World's Fair (LAWF), are brewing plans for a two-year fair showing off the technology and culture of the future—including a Hyperloop, “3D-printed gourmet delicacies,” and self-driving cars. Theme: "The Connected City." Right now, they're trying to pull together $100,000 on Indiegogo to support economic and architectural feasibility studies for their plans [...]. — citylab.com
In 2013, Copenhagen—a city of ebullient cyclists—launched the mother of all city bike schemes. Its white bikes were fitted with motors and GPS-enabled tablets—expensive, but designed for a place whose people and visitors truly believed cycling was the best way forward.
Now the city that pioneered its first shared bikes in 1995 is facing a stark possibility: no bike share scheme at all. — qz.com
[Researchers at Tsinghua University] discovered that an applied electrical current causes the gallium alloy to drastically alter its shape. Changing the voltage applied to the metal allowed it to 'shape-shift' into different formations. When the current was switched off, the metal returned to its original drop shape. [...]
they realized that bringing it into contact with a flake of aluminum caused a reaction creating hydrogen bubbles that allowed it to move of its own accord. — reuters.com
The metal alloy in question is made mostly of gallium, which is liquid at <30 degrees Celsius. Researchers think that the material could have profound implications for medical science, in particular the delivery of drugs into the blood stream. Professor Liu Jing, leader of the research team at...
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