biological engineers

Today, to be considered for a hashtronaut position, potatoes must meet the following qualifications:

- A bachelor’s degree in engineering, biological science, physical science, computer science or dirt.
- At least 1,000 hours pilot-in-command time in a potato sack.
- The ability to pass the NASA long-duration hashtronaut physical. Distant and near visual acuity must be correctable to 20/20 for each eye. The use of glasses is acceptable.
- Just be a potato in space.

10 Questions About the 2017 Astronaut Class

We will select between eight and 14 new astronaut candidates from among a record-breaking applicant class of more than 18,300, almost three times the number of applications the agency received in 2012 for the recent astronaut class, and far surpassing the previous record of 8,000 in 1978.

The candidates will be announced at an event at our Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas at 2 p.m. EDT on June 7. You can find more information on how to watch the announcement HERE.

1. What are the qualifications for becoming an astronaut?

Applicants must meet the following minimum requirements before submitting an application.

  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution in engineering, biological science, physical science, computer science or mathematics. 
  • Degree must be followed by at least 3 years of related, progressively responsible, professional experience or at least 1,000 hours of pilot-in-command time in jet aircraft
  • Ability to pass the NASA Astronaut physical.

For more information, visit:

2. What have selections looked like in the past?

There have been 22 classes of astronauts selected from the original “Mercury Seven” in 1959 to the most recent 2017 class. Other notable classes include:

  • The fourth class in 1965 known as “The Scientists: because academic experience was favored over pilot skills. 
  • The eighth class in 1978 was a huge step forward for diversity, featuring the first female, African American and Asian American selections.
  • The 16th class in 1996 was the largest class yet with 44 members – 35 U.S. astronauts and 9 international astronauts. They were selected for the frequent Space Shuttle flights and the anticipated need for International Space Station crewmembers.
  • The 21st class in 2013 was the first class to have 50/50 gender split with 4 female members and 4 male members.

3. What vehicles will they fly in?

They could be assigned on any of four different spacecraft: the International Space Station, our Orion spacecraft for deep space exploration or one of two American-made commercial crew spacecraft currently in development – Boeing’s CST-199 Starliner or the SpaceX Crew Dragon.

4. Where will they go?

These astronauts will be part of expanded crews aboard the space station that will significantly increase the crew time available to conduct the important research and technology demonstrations that are advancing our knowledge for missions farther into space than humans have gone before, while also returning benefits to Earth. They will also be candidates for missions beyond the moon and into deep space aboard our Orion spacecraft on flights that help pave the way for missions to Mars.

5. What will their roles be?

After completing two years of general training, these astronaut candidates will be considered full astronauts, eligible to be assigned spaceflight missions. While they wait for their turn, they will be given duties within the Astronaut Office at Johnson Space Center. Technical duties can range from supporting current missions in roles such as CAPCOM in Mission Control, to advising on the development of future spacecraft.

6. What will their training look like?

The first two years of astronaut candidate training will focus on the basic skills astronauts need. They’ll practice for spacewalks in Johnson’s 60-foot deep swimming pool, the Neutral Buoyancy Lab, which requires SCUBA certification. They’ll also simulate bringing visiting spacecraft in for a berthing to the space station using its robotic arm, Canadarm2, master the ins and outs of space station system and learn Russian. 

And, whether they have previous experience piloting an aircraft of not, they’ll learn to fly our fleet of T-38s. In addition, they’ll perfect their expeditionary skills, such as leadership and fellowship, through activities like survival training and geology treks.

7.  What kinds of partners will they work with?

They will join a team that supports missions going on at many different NASA centers across the country, but they’ll also interact with commercial partners developing spaceflight hardware. In addition, they will work with our international partners around the globe: ESA (the European Space Agency, the Canadian Space Agency, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and the Russian space agency, Roscosmos.

8. How does the selection process work?

All 18,353 of the applications submitted were reviewed by human resources experts to determine if they met the basic qualifications. Those that did were then each reviewed by a panel of about 50 people, made up primarily of current astronauts. Called the Astronaut Rating Panel, that group narrowed to applicants down to a few hundred of what they considered the most highly qualified individuals, whose references were then checked.

From that point, a smaller group called the Astronaut Selection Board brought in the top 120 applicants for an intense round of interviews and some initial medical screening tests. That group is further culled to the top 50 applicants afterward, who are brought back for a second round of interviews and additional screening. The final candidates are selected from that group.

9. How do they get notified?

Each applicant selected to become an astronaut receives a phone call from the head of the Flight Operations Directorate at our Johnson Space Center and the chief of the astronaut office. They’re asked to share the good news with only their immediate family until their selection has been officially announced.

10. How does the on boarding process work?

Astronaut candidates will report for duty at Johnson Space Center in August 2017, newly fitted flight suits in tow, and be sworn into civil service. Between their selection and their report for duty, they will make arrangements to leave their current positions and relocate with their family to Houston, Texas.

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I’ve seen a lot of ideas about humans being on alien ships, and most are like “because of [whatever reason], it would be good if ships had one human on board” and there are a lot of stories that say that there’s only one human on the alien ship. But I don’t think that’s a good idea?? A lot of people have a hard time being a foreign exchange student a country where they don’t speak the language; I don’t think most humans could handle being the only human on an alien ship???? For various reasons, like loneliness/medical issues/etc. Being on an alien ship sounds awesome, but they wouldn’t have any support.

Maybe aliens don’t understand THAT; “Despite being capable enough on their own, humans have to come in groups of 2+ for some reason.”

“Let the humans choose their own groups; their social systems are much more complex, and despite their famous ability to socialize with just about any other species, if two humans ‘don’t get along’, meaning that they cause each other to have unfavorable emotions and occasionally will not cooperate, the result is negative for both the humans and the crew that they reside in.”

Maybe something like this?

The first time humans and the recently-contacted alien species “X”, the first to form an alliance with humans, attempt to team up, everyone realizes that they need to learn more about each other. They decide that should should be a simple exchange of personnel; these crewmen would work simple jobs on each other’s ships and interact with the crew in order to learn more about each other and how to successfully communicate. Both humans and Xs desperately want this to succeed. But, hearing rumors of the humans’ prowess, the X want to minimize any possible casualties, so they suggest that they exchange just one person each at the start; one X heads to the human command ship, and one human heads to the X’s.

Everything begins successfully.

The X on board the human ship is a model worker. It observes, asks questions, and when it doesn’t understand something, many humans surround and brainstorm ideas on how to explain things to it. Throwing out ideas left and right “It’s a bit like seeing color, but it’s invisible, and through the nose-” “No you idiot, it’s like those feel-auras it was talking about, but the nose is the sensory organ for it-” and eventually the X understands. In turn, when contributing ideas not easily understood by humans, it finds that many take this as a challenge, and will not stop bothering the X until they are sure that they understand. But with or without the aid of its new crewmates, the X never seems distressed that it can’t understand or be understood by others.

The human crew quickly notices that the X has not contacted its main ship, or for that matter, anyone else.

“Have you tried talking to your ship?”

“There was no need to try, I already know it won’t work because of conflicting signals.”

“Well, did you need to? Talk to your friends or family or anything? I’m sure I can rig something up if you need to.”

“I have no need to communicate with anyone as of now. Any information that will eventually need to be communicated will be included in my report to the High Command.”

“No, but did you WANT to talk to anyone? Like your family or something, so they know you’re okay? And I mean, I’m sure you must want to talk about how weird we humans are and stuff, right?”

“My family will be notified of my status when I return to the High Command. And all data I gather on humans will be included in my report.”

The X, despite being so far away from home and surrounded by pushy humans, does not seem homesick or lonely at all.

On the X’s ship, the human is enthusiastic and excited to learn new things at first. After all, they’re learning about and interacting with ALIENS; it’s freaking awesome. But it doesn’t take too long for the novelty to wear off and the human to realize that they are truly alone. No one else speaks a human language, or is physically capable of doing so. While translation technology makes communication possible, linguistic differences make both exact or truly accurate translations impossible, so it’s not the same as being able to have a simple chat with friends. And chatting with friends doesn’t come easily; technology between the ships is not compatible, and any communication signals from the human’s own communication device are cancelled out by signals from the Xs’ ship.

The human becomes isolated from all other humans, on board a ship of 200 Xs.

Any difficulty communicating is eventually pushed aside and ignored but the Xs; if the human can’t communicate an idea, and the Xs don’t get it, what can they do? They do not need to understand the human or have the human understand them in order to do their jobs, so there is no point in trying. They understand that this project is important to the alliance, but do not understand how important communication is to humans.

The human has no help from others; several humans asking the same questions might get the idea that communicating certain ideas are important. But there is also no one who could understand them, no one to brainstorm ideas with:

“Now, how do we explain the concept of smell to a species from a planet where no organism has a nose?”

“Oh! My cousin was born without a sense of smell, and we sort of explained things like…”

Any problems communicating human ideas, or understanding X ideas, they face alone.

On that note, the human finds it difficult to to relate with any of the Xs. Xs can socialize fine between each other, but their standards for camaraderie is much different than that of humans. Humans are famous for their ability to empathize with any species, but it is not a two-way street, leaving the human caring about their new ship-mates with little care for themselves in return. They do not put more effort in helping the human understand, nor do they go out of their way to interact with the human outside of work situations. The human knows that it is not the fault of the Xs, that this is just the way Xs are, but they can’t help but begin to feel unappreciated, unwanted, and depressed.

Having long-since passed simple homesickness and culture shock, the human just wants desperately to talk to another human. It wouldn’t have to be anyone from the same country, or someone from the same field of work, or heck, even someone who spoke the same language. Even humans who can’t understand each other’s words can have get an idea from hand gestures, and historically, people who speak different languages that live in proximity to each other develop new dialects or learn to understand each others spoken language to communicate. Even with an age gap, they’ve lived during some of the same world events; they could find something to relate to each other. Another human would understand how strange X biology is compared to human biology, right? Another human could make jokes, laugh at the new, awesome, and weird things that they encounter. Another human could confirm that their feelings were real, right?

Humans are biologically engineered for socialization after all. Their species survived and evolved over hundreds of thousands of years because of their social nature. Xs understand this, and have heard that humans occasionally might have special needs like extraneous physical contact, but do not understand the implications. That this made humans biologically dependent on socialization for survival. That humans’ mental, emotional, and eventually even physical states can deteriorate without affection from friends and family.

And so the human gets ill.

Not quite used to human physicality in general or variation in physicality between individuals, and after hearing the legendary stories of humans surviving seemingly impossible situations, the Xs work their human crewmate hard. The human, already emotionally exhausted from isolation, easily gets physically exhausted. They contract an illness not unlike the common cold, though it couldn’t be given that their current location does not have any traces of the virus. With proper rest, and maybe more chances to chat with some friends back on the command ship, would help the human immensely. But the human, in their emotional and physical distress, can not communicate the idea that yes, humans can recover from illness like this without 5 different medicines. That talking to loved ones, or someone, anyone, would do more than just make them happy but give them the emotional will to make them physically well. There are no other humans around to explain human medical issues, or to provide a cool cloth for their fever, or to talk to while they’re sick in bed and unable to work, or…

The Xs change course and modify their signals in order to send a message to the human command ship and inform them that the human has fallen ill. Afraid of retaliation and wanting to ensure good faith, they request a strategy, asking what needs to be done in this situation. The human ship responds; the X on their ship has recently fallen ill as well. Xs do not have the hardy immune system that humans do, and while precautions were taken, it still caught a cold. The decision to return the crewmates to their home ships is made. The information that they managed to gather during their exchange this time will be used for a more successful future exchange and other interactions in the future.

The X suggests to their commanders more precautions regarding illnesses, and also advises any future volunteers to talk as much as possible to the other humans; they love interaction, learning, and teaching.

The human suggests that a special channel be created for easy communication, and makes only one demand; it doesn’t matter what the other species demands, don’t you dare let anyone go alone, ever again.

Submitted By: @bluemichikosan 

Culture Shock: Everything You Need To Know About ‘World Of Warcraft’

With more than 100 million accounts created in its 13 years, World Of Warcraft is the most popular massive multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) of all time. If you’re interested in joining the worldwide sensation, here’s some important info to know about the game’s history first.

The designers got the idea for World Of Warcraft after getting hopelessly lost in the Mall Of America: Minneapolis residents and lifelong friends Rob Pardo, Jeff Kaplan, and Tom Chilton decided to finally check out the great big mall everyone had been talking about for so long on one fateful day in the summer of 2001. They almost immediately got separated, and it took them days to find each other, and even longer to find a way out. Weeks later, they met up at a local diner to discuss what had happened and realized that a video game based on exploring uncharted territories full of wonders like T-shirt kiosks and incredible challenges like finding Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. would appeal to millions of players. After some debate, they changed the setting to the mystical realm of Azeroth, and the rest is history.

The game didn’t allow orcs to use weapons for years until the development team went to sensitivity classes and were convinced to stop being prejudiced against them: A truly dark spot on the history of World Of Warcraft is the discrimination orcs faced in the early years. The programmers behind the game were scared of orcs because of their no-nonsense attitudes about life, love, and barbecue, so they made sure that it was impossible for any of them to carry so much as a dagger. After thousands of fans sent in letters vouching for the orcs’ virtuous character, Blizzard sent the programmers to sensitivity classes and orcs were allowed to carry any weapon they desired the very next day.

George R.R. Martin credits World Of Warcraft as a key influence of his popular book series Tom The Trombone Player’s Adventures Abroad: One of the world’s greatest authors says that his most lauded work wouldn’t exist without this game. George R.R. Martin has spoken at length about how the game inspired him to finally get serious about writing, and that he began writing his smash hit saga Tom The Trombone Player’s Adventures Abroad soon after that. “Tom is based on my gnome rogue from the game. Tom isn’t a gnome, he isn’t a rogue, but he does know how to play the trombone, and that’s the exact stroke of genius that World Of Warcraft inspired in me,” said Martin in a 2011 interview with Entertainment Tonight.

The avian flu was a publicity stunt meant to convince people that the only way to avoid it was playing World Of Warcraft indoors 24/7: In 2007, Blizzard had the would-be brilliant marketing idea to stoke interest in World Of Warcraft’s first expansion by biologically engineering a disease that would be spread by birds and had the potential to kill millions. They thought that consumers would be forced to stay inside and find comfort in World Of Warcraft. However, this plan backfired when scientists reported that a goose with avian flu could, theoretically, get inside your house through an open window and spit on you. Once Americans knew that they were no safer indoors than out, Blizzard’s strategy was sunk.

On Prompto’s fear of bugs.

The idiocy of Dr. Besithia and the Little Albert Experiment

According to Episode Prompto, Starscourge is a plasmodium. One (of the unbelievably many) questions this raises is “how the fuck did Besithia whatever his name is become a scientist because FOR THE LOVE OF GOD MAN PLASMODIA NEED TWO HOSTS”

Read More for length. I’m back with more science meta!

I don’t think Besithia’s a biologist. It seems more likely that he’s an engineer that mass produces the MT robot suits, considering the projects we see he has a hand in is actually mechanical in nature. The main worm-machine thing at the end of episode prompto is not a biological feat. It’s an engineering one.

Seriously. This man is seemingly uneducated about his life’s work. For starters, Plasmodium is a genus, not an species. Genera are the step above the classification of species in the taxonomic rank. All plasmodia are parasitic, and therefore has to have a host in order to survive. Besithia’s biggest and most obvious downfall is the lack of a the definitive host for the plasmodium.

In layman’s terms, Starscouge needs two type of hosts to survive. One, a vertebrate which is seen in the MT hosts (think Prompto) or the mammal creatures that roam around Eos. The second is an insect, usually a mosquito.  This insect host is called the definitive host because this is where the sexual reproduction takes place. The short version: Starscourge parasites mate in the mosquito, mosquito gives parasite to human, parasite splits into many baby parasites in the human’s body, mosquito takes up the parasite and begins again.

No insect? No complete life cycle on the parasite. A major oversight in the development.

So lets assume there are mosquitos off screen somewhere. Maybe some smart little scientist lady comes in and tells Besithia he’s an idiot and sends him capturing mosquitoes with a bug net. Idk. Either way. Lets imagine there are bugs in the lab where the incubating clones are being kept. Do you see where I’m going with this? The clones are hearing these bugs buzz and hum as they are being transformed into daemons. (another question. Why use incubation tubes? Why not biobags? It’s actually science…Judging you Besithia)

Even if you want to argue that these clones are more akin to fetuses rather than fully grown humans, fetuses are thought to be able to hear at 24 weeks gestation. A paper from cognitive neuroscientist Eino Partanen of the University of Helsinki reports that newborns react to words and sounds that had been heard inside the womb. Made Up words, rhythms and pitches are identifiable, to that point that some researches find that babies recognize, and cry in, their parent’s most spoken language. ACcording to the journal  Current Biology,  French newborns in the study ended their cries with a lilt at the end typically heard in French. German babies, however, started their cries intensely and dropped off at the end – much like the emphasis their German parents put in a sentence. So either way, these clones heard the mosquitoes kept in the laboratory.

Humans – even spliced weird pig-virus ones like Prompto – are nothing if not adaptive. Is how a bunch of apes with sticks managed to become the dominate mammals despite our low birth rate and general squish. Enter the famous Little Albert experiment. Scientists Watson and Rayner set out to condition a phobia in a health nine month old infant child, known as Albert. Going into the experiment, Albert showed no fear towards a variety of stimuli. Rats, rabbits, dogs, monkeys, and various findings like newspapers.

During the actual experiment, they let the baby play with and touch the rat. After the baby and the rat became acquainted, one of the men stood behind the baby and hit a steel rod with a hammer. The baby began to cry. This happened enough soon Little Albert related the loud sound with the white rat.

Like all old psychology, the experiment wasn’t complete until someone was traumatized. Little Albert was crying and crawling away from the rat. This happened for three months, until the baby was roughly a year old. The problem was… they never “fixed” the baby. There was no desensitization done, and the baby left the experiment with a generalized fear of all white fuzzy things. He showed fear towards the rat, a rabbit, a furry dog, and even a fuzzy Santa Beard.

Is Dr. Besithia, who 1) sucks at his job, and 2) considers MTs to be worthless foot soldiers, actually going to take the time to de-sensitize an infant from the sound of mosquitos? Of course not. He probably doesn’t even know that’s a thing that can happen.

Fast forward 20 years later and you have Prompto tramping through the wetlands with the chosen king. “

“Oh right. You hate bugs.”

“Ugh yeah. Can’t stand them”

Sangeeta Bhatia (b. 1968) is an Indian American biological engineer who currently teaches at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her research focuses on applications of micro- and nano-technology for tissue repair and regeneration.

She obtained her Masters and PhD from MIT, and an M.D. from Harvard Medical School. She also directs the Laboratory for Multiscale Regenerative Technologies at MIT.


Have you just been DYING for a real world example of safe Vore? Have you been wishing night and day for an animal that can keep other animals alive inside itself?


The Gastric-Brooding frog, also known as the Platypus Frog, was native to Australia it was known for its ability to keep it’s babies in it’s stomach untill they grew into adolescent frogs. This frog is currently “extinct” due to water pollution and toxins released by nearby farms. BUT, an Anti-Extinction attempt is under way, biological engineers have gotten them to the Tadpole stage and have high hopes of bringing them back.

They’re really tiny and I love them.


This has always been my favorite series, and my favorite horror game. I haven’t thought about it in years, and now that it’s back, I’m absolutely over the moon. Glad to have this keep me company while I run a few DNA extractions.
(So I’ve got youtube playing while I work. Go ahead and fire me.)

Why is it that so many people

Have a problem with English majors??? (Edit : I’m going to be majoring in English in the fall) Like..I’m sitting here at this party and yeah it’s cool that everyone is going into astrophysics or is a doctor or is studying biological engineering, I think that’s great, but why does that make them feel entitled to insult those who aren’t? I love science but I wanted to go into English and possibly pursue a career in education or such, and as soon as the words, “ I’m majoring in English,” come out THEY ALL STARE AT ME LIKE I HAVE TWO HEADS!!! IM MAJORING IN ENGLISH BECAUSE IT MAKES ME HAPPY AND NO DEBORA OR WHATEVER YOUR NAME IS I WILL NOT END UP WITHOUT A CAREER AND BE LIVING ON THE SODE OF A DAMN ROAD. Like just show some RESPECT you don’t have to be all rude and in my face because I want to study English like holy shit. IT SHOULDNT MATTER WHAT ANYONE STUDIES AS LONG AS THEY ARE HAPPY THEY WILL BE SUCCESSFUL

Unpowered Ankle Exoskeleton Takes the Load Off a Long Hike

Evolution has had four million years to tinker with the locomotion experiment called walking on two feet. With that much time for natural selection to keep what works and chuck what doesn’t, there wouldn’t seem to be much room for improvement. 

But what about those tired feet you get after standing on them all day? Or the dull ache that starts creeping up your legs after walking for a few hours? It turns out that even evolutionary fine-tuning leaves room for improvement, and a number of public and private sector engineers have been working on exoskeletons to improve bipedal efficiency. 

Researchers have now built an ankle exoskeleton that requires no external chemical or electrical power and decreases the energy a person uses for walking by more than 7 percent, about the equivalent of taking off a 10-pound backpack. The team, from Carnegie Mellon, North Carolina State and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, say this walking efficiency improvement is on par with units that run on powered motors. It could also be a simple and cheap way to help people whose work keeps them on their feet all day. Learn more and see images below.

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A Story that we paint (Epilogue)

Ch. 1 | Ch. 2 | Ch. 3 | Epilogue

  • Pairings: Jeon Jungkook x Reader | Kim Taehyung x Reader ft. the BTS members
  • Genre: College Au, Future, Scifi, Slight Fluff and Angst
  • Words: 4K
  • Description: Butterfly Dream: In which the lines between virtual and reality are blurred.
  • A/N: My attempt at providing answers and avoiding an angsty ending.

Originally posted by sugutie

You’re eyes slowly flutter open. The light in the room is bright and warm, and a sign on the wall reads “Butterfly Dream Facility”.

“She’s awake!” Jimin shouts. He swings his arms, signaling for someone to come over. They quickly rush to his side.

“Y/N?” You hear the familiar baritone voice utter your name. It takes a moment to sink in, but your vision starts to clear and you see the thrilled expressions of the two soothingly familiar faces crowded around you.

“Taehyung? Jimin?” You manage to murmur, barely able to lift yourself up from the bed.

“Whoa there, take it easy” Taehyung says, rushing to wrap his arm around your back and help support you into an upright position. “You’re muscles are weak from disuse.” He says. The warmth of his body saturates through your stale clothes as you lean back against his firm chest.

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Energy harvested from evaporation could power much of US

In the first evaluation of evaporation as a renewable energy source, researchers at Columbia University find that U.S. lakes and reservoirs could generate 325 gigawatts of power, nearly 70 percent of what the United States currently produces.

Though still limited to experiments in the lab, evaporation-harvested power could in principle be made on demand, day or night, overcoming the intermittency problems plaguing solar and wind energy. The researchers’ calculations are outlined in the Sept. issue of Nature Communications.

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The Tyranids, also known as The Great Devourer are an extragalactic alien race, whose sole purpose is the consumption of all forms of genetic and biological material in order to evolve and reproduce. Tyranid technology is based entirely on biological engineering. Every function is carried out by living, engineered creatures, each of which collectively forms the Hive Fleet, directed by a single Hive Mind.

The Tyranids are seen as one of the gravest threats to the entire Galaxy. They seek only to consume all organic life and cannot be reasoned with or deterred in this quest. Worse still for the Galaxy, thus far the Tyranid Hive Fleets that have been encountered are merely the furthest stretched tendril of the main invasion fleet that is still travelling in the void of space.

Solarpunk body horror!

The emphasis on biology in Solarpunk has a lot of interesting potential! I wonder what we’d try to develop for our own bodies?

Obviously, depending on the level of technology in the setting, there’d be cyborgs, and I bet the implants/components would have an interesting stylized look, maybe even a little mystical and eerie.

Or maybe we’d take the full biological route, engineering and growing customized parts from living tissue.

On the more fanciful and much messier side… Experiments involving growing plants in the body! I’m not sure what purpose it would serve, and it admittedly might not have a firm basis in reality, but a Solarpunk setting is aesthetically and thematically ripe for plant gore, and I’m sure someone could make it fit in beautifully and believably.

As well as plants, there’s always fungi! All I’ll say about that is… Imagine all the ways a Solarpunk society could make modified cordyceps work for them.

Maybe the best of Solarpunk is just Biopunk reimagined in Mucha style.

Pine Cones Inspire Walking Robot

When it comes to robots taking tips from nature to move, there is no shortage of examples from the animal kingdom. Engineers have used dogs, horses, insects and many other animals as inspiration to help their creations walk, fly, swim and crawl. 

Now we’re seeing people look even further afield for ideas to get robots to get up and go. Not too long ago, we brought you machines that move because of the swelling and contracting of bacterial spores. Yesterday, researchers from South Korea’s Seoul National University demonstrated another technique that they took from a different kingdom, one that isn’t usually associated with mobility.

Engineer Ho-Young Kim and colleagues looked to the plant world to make a simple legged robot that can walk in a single direction with no power needed besides changing ambient humidity. Their muse? The unassuming pine cone.

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Hacking Gut Bacteria Could Be The Next Major Class Of Medicines
MIT biologists are reprogramming gut bacteria as "live therapeutics."

“We start with the probiotics that you can literally buy over the counter at your local pharmacy,” Lu explained. “We’re trying to show that probiotics that are really engineered with our technologies can treat serious human diseases. So we take those probiotics and modify them so that we can significantly amplify their beneficial effects.”  

Here’s how it works: Lu and Dr. Jim Collins, Synlogic co-founder and biological engineer, developed “genetic circuits” made of synthetic DNA or RNA that carry instructions for certain bacteria, telling them to seek out and cure infections. Essentially, the researchers are tweaking the genetic codes within the bacteria in order to program them like a computer.

The bacteria can be programmed, for instance, to detect inflammation in the gut and create anti-inflammatory molecules on the spot, as well as producing molecules to boost immune system function.


Need to stick two pieces of pipe together in confined and hazardous industrial settings? Soon there might not be any need to stick a human in there. Instead, just send in the laser-firing robotic snake. 

A UK-based company called OC Robotics has demonstrated that their machine can maneuver through areas with limited access until it arrives at its target. Once there, a rotating head outfitted with a 5-kilowatt fiber laser can cut and weld metal pipes. The company’s robot adds to the growing list of snake-inspired machines in the world, which now includes units working in the medical field, disaster relief and other applications. See the video below.

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