Grow Your Own Graffiti

Posted by on August 14th, 2009

A green form of graff. This I like.


  • Two handfuls (or more, get lots) of moss
  • 2 cups of yoghurt
  • 2 cups of beer (you can use water if you want, but beer seems to hold it together a little bit better)
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • Corn syrup (optional – for making it spreadable and sticky)

Wash/tease as much of the dirt from the moss as you can. Throw it, the yoghurt, beer and sugar into a blender and blend until a lovely smooth consistency. if it looks like it’s going to drip when you paint it, add the corn syrup to the mix.

When finding somewhere to paint, look for something porous (most older or rough concrete walls are perfect). Once you’ve painted your design, its suggested that you come back every week or to spray it with water, to help the moss along.

Check out Anna Garforth (her site is here), a dedicated moss artist.

Hanoi City Coal Breaker

Posted by on August 2nd, 2009

Deep in the mountains of coal country lies this rusting hulk. Once the largest coal breaker in the world it could process raw coal through the entire facility in an amazing 12 minutes. Some information states it opened around 1932 and closed in either 1964 or 1978.

Just two of many awesome pix in Hoodwatch‘s fantastic flickr set.

Karl Schroeder on ‘Rewilding’

Posted by on August 1st, 2009

The following speech by Karl Schroeder is an excellent summation of the future we’ve been documenting here, the world that lies just around the corner:

YouTube Preview Image

His thoughts on, well I guess you have to call it Nature 2.0, are a nice progression on some of Kevin Kelly’s ideas in his book Out of Control.

via BoingBoing | Futurismic

Liquid Wood Is Plastic of Tomorrow

Posted by on July 29th, 2009

Norbert Eisenreich, a senior researcher and deputy of directors at the Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology (ICT) in Pfinztal, Germany, said his team of scientists have come up with a substance that could replace plastic: Arboform — basically, liquid wood.

It is derived from wood pulp-based lignin and can be mixed with a number of other materials to create a strong, non-toxic alternative to petroleum-based plastics, Eisenreich said, as reported by DPA news agency.

Car parts and other durable items made of this bio-plastic already exist, but the chemical hadn’t been suitable for household use until now, due to the high content of sulphurous substances used in separating the lignin from the cell fibers.

The German researchers were able to reduce the sulphur content in Arborform by about 90 percent, making it much safer for use in everyday items.

Bolstering Arboform’s environmental credentials, Eisenreich’s team also discovered that the substance was highly recyclable.

“To find that out, we produced components, broke them up into small pieces, and re-processed the broken pieces — 10 times in all. We did not detect any change in the material properties of the low-sulphur bio-plastic, so that means it can be recycled,” said Inone-Kauffmann.

From, via

Video: Paperclips do magnetic dance on train

Posted by on July 16th, 2009


The video — shot on the Rokko Liner in Kobe, Japan — shows how paperclips stand on end when the train accelerates and brakes. The magnetism, which is produced by the electric current that drives the motors located under the floor, apparently poses no harm to the human body, though it could damage credit cards, mobile phones, or other electronic devices if left on the floor. The Kobe New Transit Company, which operates the Rokko Liner (as well as the Port Liner, which uses similar trains), says extra shielding is being installed just in case.

Smart tags to reveal where our trash ends up

Posted by on July 16th, 2009

Ever wondered where your trash goes to die? New Scientist is collaborating with Massachusetts Institute of Technology in a ground-breaking experiment to electronically tag and follow ordinary trash as travels from ordinary garbage cans to landfills, recycling plants, and possibly some extraordinary destinations.

The team behind the experiment, MIT’s Senseable City lab, led by Carlo Ratti, have made a device that is about the size of a small matchbox and that works like a cell phone – without the phone bit. A SIM card inside the chip blips out its location every 15 minutes, the signal is picked up by local cell phone antennae and the chip’s location is relayed back to MIT.

Ratti’s team and New Scientist have already deployed a test run of 50 tracked items of trash ranging from paper cups to computers in Seattle. Several thousand more will be released in Seattle and New York garbage cans later this summer and we’ll chuck a batch into the London trash for good measure.


Incredible Shadow Art

Posted by on July 3rd, 2009

Created by Tim Noble and Sue Webster, visual proof that junk can still be useful:

Photos and link via

Thanks to Cat Vincents’ Wife-the-artist, for providing the names to the creators of the pieces.

The Age of Stupid: Film Charts the Future of Climate Change

Posted by on June 4th, 2009

Pitched to be this year’s most talked-about climate change film, The Age of Stupid is a new movie from director Franny Armstrong (of McLibel) and producer John Battsek (of One Day In September). In this epic tale, Pete Postlethwaite stars as a man living alone in the devastated future world of 2055, looking at old footage from 2008 and asking: why didn’t we stop climate change when we had the chance?

Link and words via

Illegal Bees Live the High Life in New York City

Posted by on June 1st, 2009

From National Geographic, it’s hard to be a bee keeper in New York:

Keeping bees in New York City is illegal, so for years beekeepers have flown below the radar of the health code. They keep their hives on roof tops or in community gardens.

If a neighbor makes a complaint, the owners must disassemble their hives or face steep fines and exterminator fees. Flouting the law seems to have not dissuaded these would be beekeepers.

The New York City health department maintains that bees are a threat due to the possibility of swarming and that stings for some can be fatal.

A city council bill has been introduced to legalize beekeeping in the city.

Future Sea Cities

Posted by on May 21st, 2009

Not designed to be built, but interesting to look at:

Intentionally or not, it’s a fitting name–”Refusion”–for a winning example of a futuristic homesteading concept based on refusal: refusal to be constrained by established governments or social mores or even by the fundamental desire for solid ground underfoot.

People’s-choice award winner in a design competition for “seasteads”–oil rig-like, sovereign settlements in international waters–this proposed research facility by a group of Las Vegas-based 3-D artists includes “a number of environmental systems, such as greenhouses and renewable energy sources, which would enable absolute independence,” according to a Team 3DA statement. “The aesthetic that emerged from this realization became influenced by a mixture of organic and mechanical systems operating in a symbiotic relationship.”

Photo and words via

The end of the road

Posted by on May 19th, 2009


the $6M per mile fence

Posted by on May 18th, 2009

From zimbio:

A recently constructed section of the controversial US-Mexico border fence expansion project crosses previously pristine desert sands at sunrise on March 14, 2009 between Yuma, Arizona and Calexico, California

via William Gibson

Psychoactive Air

Posted by on May 16th, 2009

Image via Avatar Press’ flick stream

A new study has found the air in Madrid and Barcelona is also laced with at least five drugs – most prominently cocaine.

The Superior Council of Scientific Investigations, a government institute, said on its website that in addition to cocaine, it found trace amounts of amphetamines, opiates, cannabinoids and lysergic acid -a relative of LSD – in air-quality control stations in the cities.

But it said there was no reason for alarm.

“Not even if we lived for a thousand years would we consume the equivalent of a dose of cocaine by breathing this air,” said one of its scientists, Miren Lopez de Alda, in the statement.

The scientific group added that “in no case should these levels be considered representative of the air in the two cities”.

In Madrid the test site was close to a ruined building believed to be frequented by drug dealers. And in both Madrid and Barcelona, the studies were carried out close to universities

Quote via

Thanks to LBA for the tip-off!

Growing a Wall

Posted by on April 30th, 2009

DUNE: Arenaceous Anti-Desertification Architecture

Mangus Larsson wants to change the world.

Specificaly, he wants to grow a wall, 6,000km long stretching east to west across the Sahara Desert.  The wall would be multipurpose; providing shelter for refugees as well as slowing the desert’s own outward spread.  And yes, he wants to grow it, not build it.

Larsson’s project deservedly won first prize last fall at the Holcim Foundation’s Awards for Sustainable Construction held in Marrakech, Morocco.
One of the most interesting aspects of the project, I think, is that this solidified dunescape is created through a particularly novel form of “sustainable construction” – that is, through a kind of infection of the earth.
In other words, Larsson has proposed using bacillus pasteurii, a “microorganism, readily available in marshes and wetlands, [that] solidifies loose sand into sandstone,” he explains.

Clarifying the biochemical process through which his project could be realized, Larsson explained in a series of emails that his “structure is made straight from the dunescape by flushing a particular bacteria through the loose sand… which causes a biological reaction whereby the sand turns into sandstone; the initial reactions are finished within 24 hours, though it would take about a week to saturate the sand enough to make the structure habitable.”
The project – a kind of bio-architectural test-landscape – would thus “go from a balloon-like pneumatic structure filled with bacillus pasteurii, which would then be released into the sand and allowed to solidify the same into a permacultural architecture.”

While there are many potential pitfalls to this kind of world-hacking, any archtectural project that requires you to infect the Earth is pretty sexy in my book.

Head to BLDGBLOG for more details and more sexy pictures.

Bomb Sniffing Rats

Posted by on March 30th, 2009

Too small to set of the bombs, but smart enough to indicated a bomb is present, Gambian poached rats are taught to sniff out explosive devices. Trained from five weeks of age, they can two days worth of work in only 30 minutes. The rats are already working in Mozambique, Africa.

Photo and link via

World Builder

Posted by on March 12th, 2009

Created by Bruce Branit, who shot in it a few days.World Builder involved two years of post-production work to bring it to this moment.

Sent to me via twitter by heresybob.

French Nuclear Test 1970

Posted by on March 7th, 2009

Photo from, via

abandoned power station in sweden

Posted by on March 3rd, 2009

– photo by pbase, taken from DRB’s Epic Abandonded Substations and Power Plants post

Abandoned castle in Sorrento, Italy

Posted by on February 13th, 2009

photo by egold

I love a sunburnt country

Posted by on February 9th, 2009

..but this is just getting ridiculous:

-- photo from Sue Hickton's photostream

The worst bush fires ever seen swept through my state this Saturday, after the hottest day ever recorded, a furnace-like 48C (that’s 118.4 F for the rest of you) with fierce winds.  Some are still burning.

The death toll is currently at over 130, and they’re still finding more bodies.  Almost 10,000 are homeless.

Bush fires have always been a part of living in Australia; and that’s the biggest tragedy of all.  These people died because they thought they were prepared, or because they had no warning at all.  A lot of them had been through fires before, and had successfully defended their homes.

But Nature’s upped the ante, delivering something far worse than anything anyone ever expected.

This is the new reality.  Extremes beyond our imagining.  The world has already become uninsurable.

The fact that people ran straight to social media is heartening, but it’s not enough.  No one should die from the Weather;  it’s just fucking crazy.

I honestly don’t know what the answer is.  Worldwide we need to go on the defensive in a major way.

The old cliche remains truer than ever:  hope for the best and prepare for the very worst.

(the title of this post comes from the poem My Country by Dorthea MacKellar,  a classic ode to the Australian landscape)