I stumbled upon this today and was floored. Granted, I think what we should be doing is looking for alternatives to petroleum because of it’s dire effects on the internet. That said, this was still absolutely fascinating and impossible to ignore.

LS9 has genetically altered tiny single cell bugs to excrete a renewable form of crude oil from the consumption of  agricultural waste. The excreted, ‘Oil 2.0’ will not only be renewable but carbon negative. This means that the carbon it emits will be less than that sucked from the atmosphere by the raw materials from which it is made.

The resultant renewable form of crude oil could then be refined into other products, such as petroleum or jet fuel. Regular crude oil is only a few molecular stages removed from the fatty acids normally excreted by yeast or E. coli during fermentation. So it didn’t take much DNA fiddling from LS9 to achieve the desired result. The best part is that the energy-intensive process of distillation is almost eliminated because the bugs excrete a substance that is close to pump-ready.

LS9’s plan is to have demo-plant operational by 2010 and construction of a commercial-scale facility set to being in 2011.

You can read more about this amazing development here.

Discovered via Joyengine.

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BMW Concept Car

Take a look at BMW’s new cloth concept car. Very cool.

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Sarah Featherstone’s cutting-edge green home has already sold for a record-breaking £7.2million, or $14.2million in the sadly declining U.S. dollar. The home is known as the Orchid House and is one of the key homes in the U.K. on the Lower Mill Estate, a project to turn a disused gravel pit into a 450-acre nature reserve.

The home apparently aims to generate more energy than it consumes, making use of geothermal heating. I think it’s a great idea and will no doubt be a stunning piece of architecture when it is completed, especially when considering the organic design along with the use laminated veneer lumber but what is the point of experimenting with sustainable design like this if it is only ever going to be accessible to the super rich? Build some sustainable homes that middle class people can live in for a change.

You can read more about the project at Inhabit.

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It’s time again for the TED talk of the week. This week I have selected Susan Blackmore’s utterly fascinating talk about what she calls memes: ideas that replicate themselves from brain to brain like a virus. She argues that humanity has spawned a new grander meme called the teme, which is spreading itself via technology.

Sounds interesting right? Well, that’s because it is.

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The Space Collective is one of those rare and magnificent beasts that you stumble upon and can find little words to describe. That is essentially what happened today when I found it by way of a link to a link to a link. Even still after having spent some time on the site, I really can’t even describe to you exactly what it is all about. What I do know is I like where it is going and that it is about looking at the world, and the internet a little differently. It is about wonder and I like to wonder. Our live, work, consume, die routine doesn’t account for much wonder and the irony is that wondering about things is usually what leads to the greatest ideas and innovation. So, it is nice to find a site that is encouraging people to do so in several regards. Be sure to look around the site because there is something unusual, unexpected and often times inspiring lurking just past every button click.

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The internet may someday be obsolete if Cern can find a way to give us access to what they are now calling ‘The Grid’. Scientists at Cern claim the lightening fast replacement is capable of downloading entire feature films in seconds at speeds 10,000 times faster than broadband. It could also harness the kind of power needed to transmit holographic images, make online gaming instantaneous between thousands of gamers and allow for high definition phone conversations all for the price of a local phone call. Wow.

Professor of Physics at Glasgow University, David Britton has stated that he thinks the Grid could ‘revolutionize’ society. He claims, “With this kind of computing power, future generation will have the ability to collaborate and communicate in ways older people like me cannot even imagine.”

The grid will become more apparent later this summer after Cern switches on their Large Hadron Collider. LHC is a particle accelerator built to probe the origin of the universe. The grid was essentially created to capture the large amount of data it is expected to generate. The LHC is even more notable than the grid and if you haven’t heard about it, you should read up on it because it just might change the world as we know it.

If you want to read the rest of the story about the grid, you can do so here.

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Sustainable Design is top of mind these days but it is still a topic that can be hard to follow as it is not exactly something that often makes the nightly news. While searching for images and copy about Buckminster Fuller yesterday (I am working on a poster about him at the moment) and stumbled across the Sustainable Design Update blog. Fuller was a pioneer not only in thinking and engineering towards sustainable design but also in raising the topic at a time when it was barely a consideration. Fuller has been a big influence in how I think about my life and an inspiration in how I gauge my pursuits. Of course he surfaces as a topic from time to time on the Sustainable Design blog because of his unique place in the history of the subject. If you don’t know about Fuller, he is someone you should look up.

Fuller aside, the blog has a wealth of great information on the current developments in sustainable design. It is really great to see someone out there taking the time to track down all of the relevant information and synthesize it somewhere that people can keep tabs on it. Topics ranging from biodegradable plastics made from corn syrup to alternative energy sources like hydrogen gas make for a great and always interesting if not inspirational read. I highly recommend visiting it and supporting it in any way you can.

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MIT Media Lab Personal Robotics Group have built a robot named Nexi that is able to move it’s hands and emote by conveying simple facial expressions. The robot falls under the MDS program which stands for Mobile/Dexterous/Social. The program is headed by roboticist Cynthia Breazeal. The small frail looking arms are capable of holding up to 10 pounds and the robot is able to move around vis-a-vis a pair of Segway-like self balancing wheels. The color camera in one of it’s eyes combined with the IR system in it’s forehead allows Nexi of mapping out it’s environment to better navigate the surrounding environment.

The eventual goal of the program is to help support the study of human-robot interfacing, teaming and social learning.

If you were to ask me, I would have to say that it’s all about the eyebrows. Even with the eyebrows it is pretty creepy.

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