Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Genes, Pets, and Blue Roses

Genetically Modified blue roses produced by the FloriGene company. This picture was snagged from their website

Man has been domesticating animals, plants, bugs--you name it. Now, with the increasing ability to manipulate the code of life through genetic engineering, there are plenty of examples of pets that are the result of bioengineering to make special colored flowers, cats that are allergen-free, fluorescent fish, even clone pets (currently this option is on hold for one US company) or store the DNA for future use.

Maybe someday, we'll have examples like this to buy in the store: GenPet which is proclaimed as some sort of semi-living flesh based organism, but is just a sketch by artist Adam Brandejs for now.

Florigene --
Genetically modified flowers - they created the blue rose...

Felix Cats --
Allergy-free cats

Allerca --
Hypoallergenic cats

GloFish --
Glowing fish

BioArts --
BioArts - used to offer pet cloning, but has ceased this product offering

RNL Bio --
Cloning pets as a service offering in South Korea

Fluffy 2.0 --
Fluffy 2.0 - DNA bank for pets

GenPets --
Semi-living pets coming soon? ;)

Monday, December 28, 2009

Carbon Copies: Spread your ashes over pages and pages...

Carbon Copies photo from Nadine Jarvis' research website.

Nadine Jarvis has created an interesting new concept for dealing with the body after death. In her Carbon Copies piece, the human body is cremated and the remaining ash is made into 240 pencils which are stored neatly in a beautifully designed box. The box also contains a sharpener built in, so that the shavings are collected in the box, becoming another form of the human ash. I like the idea of this; it makes me wonder how the family will use the pencils, what they will write, will they keep their writings forever? Or will they write tributes to the dead and then burn the pages in some sort of a grieving ritual? Who knows?

Project website:

Friday, December 4, 2009

My DNA Fragrance smells fishy

Image of the "M" fragrance that is apparently based on the DNA of Michael Jackson

A collector of strands of hair from famous people has lended some of them to the "My DNA Fragrance" company which extracts mtDNA and then uses that as a way to make mixing decisions for fragrances. They market the fragrances to individuals who can order their own unique personalized fragrance and they sell premixed fragrances based on the celebrity mtDNA.

The perfume contains no DNA or any materials from a human, but has been used in some mysterious way to determine the amounts of each component that goes into a perfume. The website claims to donate some of the proceeds to the charities of the late celebrities, but I just have to imagine they are not authorized to use the likenesses of these dead folks for their own profit. I bet they will battling it out in court with many estate lawyers in the near future.

What is your opinion? Whether the product is cool or not, does it raise some ethical issues? What does M actually smell like?

Company website:

This blog, apparently from the company describes some of the details:

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Metabolic Materials: Dr. Rachel Armstrong

An artist's depiction of the city of Venice after the implementation of the metabolic materials of Rachel Armstrong. The limestone formations protect the buildings from the sea and new sea life can utilize the architectural formations bringing a new attraction to the city which is sustainable and natural.

Another exciting bit of research involving living, or in this case, semi-living protocells and architecture. Dr. Rachel Armstrong, from the Bartlett School of Architecture, discussed her ideas for buildings that not only repair themselves, but signal a departure from traditional architecture. Her ideas call for architecture that merges with the environment through materials that are alive and become part of the ecological systems in the surroundings. In this way the buildings can be sustainable, beneficial to the inhabitants of cities, and produce opportunities for new encounters with life.

Watch her TED talk here: