invisible kingdom

Kevin Kelly, senior maverick at Wired, presented a new definition of technology: ‘anything useful invented by a mind’ – whether it be a hammer or the rule of law. So technology is more than gadgets; it’s part of a great story that started long ago, an extension of life and it is moving through us.
So what does technology want according to Kevin Kelly? It wants us to be happy, it wants our co-operation, because we’re the sexual organs of technology. It wants increasing diversity, increasing complexity, increasing energy density and efficiency, increasing specialization. This patterns that we see that technology follows are the same patterns biology and evolution follows. In this respect Kelly’s suggestion that we should see technology as the 7th kingdom of life isn’t that outrageous.

7K in 7K:new life form stands for 7th kingdom of life but not only for emphasizing an enthusiastic exploration of technology but also for an awareness that technology is a part of our lives and it is not going to disappear with our ignorance. It has a life of it’s own that grows, evolves, expands and if we don’t start to understand it, use it and employing it in the right ways or places the technology will not stop growing but will overgrow us as species and destroy our natural biotope that is so crucial for our survival. So denial of technologies existence isn’t really an answer but responsible application is.

Some more on the 7th kingdom of life: To Upgrade is Human, How Technology Will Transform Us, Memes and Temes.

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invisible materials

Nanomaterials is a field that studies materials with morphological features on the nanoscale, and especially those that have special properties stemming from their nanoscale dimensions. Nanoscale is usually defined as smaller than a one tenth of a micrometer in at least one dimension, though this term is sometimes also used for materials smaller than one micrometer.

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invisible designer

Biomimicry /Greek: bios, meaning life, and mimesis, meaning to imitate/ as presented by Janine Benyus, the champion of biomimicry, is a design discipline that seeks sustainable solutions by emulating nature’s time-tested patterns and strategies, e.g., a solar cell inspired by a leaf. The core idea is that nature, imaginative by necessity, has already solved many of the problems we are grappling with: energy, food production, climate control, non-toxic chemistry, transportation, packaging, and a whole lot more.
Animals, plants, and microbes are the consummate engineers. They have found what works, what is appropriate, and most importantly, what lasts here on earth. Instead of harvesting organisms, or domesticating them to accomplish a function for us, biomimicry differs from other ‘bio-approaches’ by consulting organisms and ecosystems and applying the underlying design principles to human innovations. This approach introduces an entirely new realm for entrepreneurship that can contribute not only innovative designs and solutions to our problems but also to awakening people to the importance of conserving the biodiversity on earth that has so much yet to teach us.

7K was persuaded by Janine Benyus and decided that 7K’s nanobots will be inspired by nature which in thousands of years managed to solve innumerable design challenges without destroying natural habitat but creating conditions conducive to life although it was driven by pure necessity to survive.

Some more of biomimicry: 15 coolest cases of biomimicry, Natures designs.

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building the batboxes

Painting the BatBoxes

So today has been all about building the BatBoxes. A pleasant jaunt to a grassy area near Scarborough Castle provided us with our spraypainting workshop (as well as a beautiful view to boot). After leaving our ‘modified sandwich boxes’ to dry for a couple of hours the kit was assembled back at home providing us with three complete and operational ultrasonic sensor pods.

BatBox Shell

BatBox Assembly

BatBox Parts

The finished BatBoxes

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invisible communication

Bacteria can talk to each other: by using signaling molecules called autoinducers or pheromones they inform their neighbours as to whether or not it is worth switching certain genes on or off. This type of invisible communication, that is so enthusiastically presented by Bonnie Bassler, the energetic Bacteria Whisperer, is called quorum sensing and is a type of decision-making process used by decentralized groups to coordinate behavior. Many species of bacteria use quorum sensing to coordinate their gene expression according to the local density of their population. Similarly, some social insects use quorum sensing to make collective decisions about where to nest. Quorum sensing can function as a decision-making process in any decentralized system, as long as individual components have means of assessing the number of other components they interact with and a standard response once a threshold number of components is detected.

7K presumes that in addition to its function in biological systems the mechanism of quorum sensing could have several useful applications for the development of nanobots, both for their communication and social organization. Besides that future nanobots could also employ this kind of strategy in the communication with the natural environment, they could actually use the language that nature already knows and uses and translate it in our own. Nanobots could be our future translators from natures languages to human languages, the source of our deeper understanding of natural world.

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breakfast and arduino

3 Duemilanove Boards with Ping))) sensors

I love the smell of ultrasound in the morning.

The four Duemilanove boards for the sensor pods arrived this morning. Unfortunately the boards don’t quite fit the prototyped housing so a little modification will have to be carried out tomorrow. First ‘field’ test of the Ping sensors highlighted some issues with signal consistency which seems to be caused by clothing. It should be possible to get around this with a reprogram of the Ping))) driver program … coffee!

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CO2 gas sensor

MG811 CO2 Sensor

The MG81 CO2 sensor arrived from Bankok. After staring at the circuit schematic for some time like a dog that had been shown a card trick I realised some proper study of electronics is going to be necessary to get this thing working. When I figure it out I’ll upload a tutorial for any other Arduino developers as I’ve been unable to find one which is easy to follow out there anywhere.

CO2 sensor package

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the beauty of tiny invisible thingies

As 7K entered the world of invisible it was dazzled by the beauty of microorganisms. Microorganisms so tiny and small but combine an universe that covers all of the surface of the earth. Microorganisms /Greek: μικρός, mikrós, meaning small and ὀργανισμός, organismós, meaning organism; also spelled micro organism or micro-organism/ or microbes are organisms that are microscopic, too small to be seen by the naked human eye. Their diverse universe includes bacteria, fungi, archaea, and protists; microscopic plants /green algae/; and animals such as plankton and the planarian. Some microbiologists also include viruses, but others consider these as non-living. Most microorganisms are unicellular, single-celled, but this is not universal, since some multicellular organisms are microscopic, while some unicellular protists and bacteria are macroscopic and visible to the naked eye.
Microorganisms live in all parts of the biosphere where there is liquid water, including soil, hot springs, on the ocean floor, high in the atmosphere and deep inside rocks within the Earth’s crust. Microorganisms are vital to humans and the environment, as they participate in the Earth’s element cycles such as the carbon cycle and nitrogen cycle, as well as fulfilling other vital roles in virtually all ecosystems, such as recycling other organism’s dead remains and waste products through decomposition. Microbes also have an important place in most higher-order multicellular organisms as symbionts and are also exploited by people in biotechnology, both in traditional food and beverage preparation, and in modern technologies based on genetic engineering.

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Household objects with which to make sensor housings.

With just a few ordinary household items...

A shopping mission today has yielded all the stuff I need to create three Ping))) ultrasonic sensor housings for under eight quid. The pineapple is optional.

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the mighty batbox

Sketch for the Ping)) housings
Okay so it’s great having three Ping))) sensors and three Arduino Duemilanove boards to power them but it’s no good if they’re just flopping about on the desktop like fish out of water with nothing to contain them. Enter the mighty “BatBox” (the Pings work using ultrasound like a bat geddit?) my solution for a housing made from a modified plastic sandwich box.

Shopping mission to requisition supplies will follow shortly…

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