It was Aug. 24, 2005, and New Orleans was still charming. Tropical Depression 12 was spinning from the Bahamas toward Florida, but the chances of an American city’s being destroyed by nature were remote, even for one below sea level. An entire industry of weather bookies — scientists who calculate the likelihood of various natural disasters — had in effect set the odds: a storm that destroys $70 billion of insured property should strike the United States only once every 100 years. New Orleanians had made an art form of ignoring threats far more likely than this; indeed, their carelessness was a big reason they were supposedly more charming than other Americans. And it was true: New Orleanians found pleasure even in oblivion. But in their blindness to certain threats, they could not have been more typically American. From Miami to San Francisco, the nation’s priciest real estate now faced beaches and straddled fault lines; its most vibrant cities occupied its most hazardous land. If, after World War II, you had set out to redistribute wealth to maximize the sums that might be lost to nature, you couldn’t have done much better than Americans had done. And virtually no one — not even the weather bookies — fully understood the true odds.
East Germans successfully defected by a variety of methods: digging long tunnels under the wall, waiting for favorable winds and taking a hot air balloon, sliding along aerial wires, flying ultralights, and in one instance, simply driving a sports car at full speed through the basic, initial fortifications. When a metal beam was placed at checkpoints to prevent this kind of defection, up to four people (two in the front seats and possibly two in the boot) drove under the bar in a sports car that had been modified to allow the roof and wind screen to come away when it made contact with the beam. They lay flat and kept driving forward. The East Germans then built zig-zagging roads at checkpoints. The sewer system predated the wall, and some people escaped through the sewers, in a number of cases with assistance from the Girmann student group.
4 videos documenting civil unrest in baghdad in 2008-2009
Shewanella bacteria has been found to produce semiconducting nanotubes produced, which is a huge step in the way to nanoelectroc devices. The process they follow is biological rather than chemical, which indicates a more environmentally friendly manufacturing process for electronic materials.
U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency is creating a tool to bore through the earth to reach underground facilities. The Massive Ordinance Penetrator (MOP) can bore through up to 60 feet of concrete (depending on the type). But it is rumored that Iran is developing an ultra-hard concrete, challenging the Pentagon to develope a stronger tool.
Using some German engineering, these tools are able to detect voids and soil densities. Additionally, the Strategic Technology Office of DARPA is investing in sensor technologies “that find, characterize and identify facility function, pace of activity, and activities in conjunction with their pre and post attack status.”
Walid Raad is a Lebanese artist who, under the name “The Atlas Group” exhibits a collection of documents related to the wars in Lebanon from 1975 to 1991. The documents range in format from photography to video, and each more or less addresses some aspect of effect of the wars. Each set of documents is also accompanied by a story. In the collection titled “The Thin Neck Files,” Raad produces a series of 50 photographs of engine blocks surrounded by a group of people. The story goes that when a car bomb explodes, the only piece remaining intact is the engine block, which is often thrown hunders of feet in any direction. With the more than 3,600 bombs detonated over the course of the wars, there developed a competition between reporters to be the first to photograph the scene when the engine was found.
Another file catalogs the notebooks of a Dr. Fakhouri, one of which is esplained as such:
“Each of the notebook pages includes a cutout photograph of a car that matches the make, model, and color of a car that was used as a car bomb, as well as text written in Arabic that details the place, time, and date of the explosion, the number of casualties, the perimeter of destruction, the exploded car’s engine and axle numbers, and the weight and type of the explosives used.”
While some of the documents are related directly to the war others are more tangential, such as another notebook of Dr. Fakhouri, which provides detailed accounts of a gambling scheme set up by historians of the Lebanese wars involving a racetrack. From the files:
“It is a little known fact that the major historians of the Lebanese wars were avid gamblers. It is said that they met every Sunday at the race track — Marxists and Islamists bet on races one through seven, Maronite nationalists and socialists on races eight through fifteen.
Race after race, the historians stood behind the track photographer, whose job was to image the winning horse as it crossed the finish line, to record the photo-finish. It is also said that they convinced (some say bribed) the photographer to snap only one picture as the winning horse arrived. Each historian wagered on precisely when — how many fractions of a second before or after the horse crossed the finish line — the photographer would expose his frame.”
The documents presented by Raad serve to show the different aspects of the wars, and how they affected the city of Beirut and the national psyche. Although not at first apparent, all the documents are completely fake. Raad’s explanation is that the wars, now 20 years past, are still completely denied by the government, and no official accounts exist of what actually happened. Thus, a fictional archive such as that of the Atlas Group is actually a more realistic portrayal of the wars than the official history.
This is very interesting for our project because it shows how fiction can serve to create a deeper understanding of a situation, especially when dealing with sensitive issues like war. It also uses formats typically reserved for factual accounts to create alternate scenarios of the past. We can use similar techniques of fictional documents, news reports, documentaries, etc., to produce a vision or representation of our scenarios for the future. It would also be interesting to use the same tools to critically examine the past and highlight those aspects that have an affect on our future scenarios.
I highly recommend checking out the complete archives online or checking out the show if it comes around.
This pavilion was made by 3D scanning a termite mound and enlarging it to fit humans before being milled and assembled. I think such analogies will be useful, especially in ideas of reconstruction, memory, and such.
great post yuval. here is another, also exceptional:
The beginning is great architecturally, then go to about 4:20 to see the size of the queen and how she operates. Around 6, the narrator discusses the strategies in the architecture and complexity of its spaces.
is there hierarchy in our swarm?
They poured tons of concrete into an ant colony’s hole and then started digging it out to reveal the elaborate underground city. Basically lots of channels of circulation and ventilation and then these ventricles, these round chambers at the ends. (It’s long but try to watch it through) Lots to think about as far as negative space and reconstruction.
Lithification is a process of porosity destruction through compaction and cementation. Lithification includes all the processes which convert unconsolidated sediments into sedimentary rocks. Petrification, though often used as a synonym, is more specifically used to describe the replacement of organic material by silica in the formation of fossils. In geology consolidation is a synonym for lithification.
A library of simple diagrams of geological processes.
The aesthetics of striation as a result of lithification.
The aesthetics of tafoni as a result of erosion.
Modelling of compaction (packing) (also, lithification) through computation.
“The Monsanto Company is a U.S.-based multinational agricultural biotechnology corporation. It is the world’s leading producer of the herbicide glyphosate, marketed as “Roundup”. Monsanto is also the leading producer of genetically engineered (GE) seed; it sells 90% of the world’s GE seeds. Monsanto’s development and marketing of genetically engineered seed and bovine growth hormone, as well as its aggressive litigation and political lobbying practices, have made the company controversial around the world and a primary target of the alter-globalization movement and environmental activists. Monsanto scientists became the first to genetically modify a plant cell in 1982. Five years later, Monsanto conducted the first field tests of genetically engineered crops.”
“Monsanto’s primary reason for enforcing its patents is to ensure a level playing field for the vast majority of honest farmers who abide by their agreements, and to discourage using technology illegally to gain an unfair advantage.” (Monsanto’s statement) They limit the use of their seed to one year, and anyone who uses it for longer is sued.
Monsanto could be the company that we project will develop our nanotechnology. They will then patent it and have it live only one year for every new batch so that they can make people buy more, and if someone makes it go on, they will prosecute. I think another functionality we could build into it is that if some other company develops their own technology, Monsanto’s would infect it and turn it into another one of theirs.
“SurvivaBall is nothing less than a self-contained living system–truly, a gated community for one. If you have a SurvivaBall, even if everyone else is dying, at least you can weather all storms.” Of course, while SurvivaBall is its own brand, it was created by America’s largest companies (the Website boasts the logos of Shell, Ford, Exxon, GM, etc.) to avoid dealing with their impact on the environment in a non-profitable manner. “The SurvivaBall builds on Halliburton’s reputation as a disaster and conflict industry innovator,” said Wolf. “Just as the Black Plague led to the Renaissance and the Great Deluge gave Noah a monopoly of the animals, so tomorrow’s catastrophes could well lead to good – and industry must be ready to seize that good.”
“The Survivaball not only hyperbollically anticipates the long-term intensification of environmental disadjustments as the condition for future profit making, but also provides the appropriate protective equipment for those contracted to manage the perpetual state of emergency generated by the energy-industrial complex.”
So here it is, the now-famous (that was fast) Bloom “Box” Energy Servers — all five of ’em — working their magic at eBay’s north campus. Not much to look at, but we’re happy to say it retains a low temperature — the only heat we really found was due to direct exposure to the light — and remains quiet while running. There are vents just underneath the sides where cool air was being pumped out. Of course, its raison d’etre is its ability to more efficiently deliver power, which is not something we can really test ourselves. Bloom Energy showcased a number of customers today — FedEx, Walmart, Staples, Google, Coca-Cola, Bank of America, Cox, and of course, eBay — and if the numbers meet their mark, you can color us mighty impressed. You know the drill: gallery below, quick video after the break!
“This morning’s devastating earthquake in Chile (8.8 on the Richter scale) had an energy equivalent of approximately 15.8 gigatons of TNT (31,600,000,000,000 lbs). To put that in perspective, it is about as much energy as would be released by 300 of the largest thermonuclear bombs ever built (the USSR’s Tsar Bomba, detonated in Novaya Zemlya in 1961).”
Someone’s post about today’s earthquake. I just thought it would be interesting to keep exploring the energy aspect of these natural disasters, especially in terms of man-made bombs. Check out how small Hiroshima is in comparison.
Bacillus pasteurii is a “microorganism, readily available in marshes and wetlands, [that] solidifies loose sand into sandstone.” Check out a BLDG BLOG post about a proposal for the Sahara desert here.
“The 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.”
The final result can also be imagined by observing Tafoni stone formations, even though in this case it’s erosion rather than aggregation that’s taking place. There’s some of this stone in Germany, actually.
Some inspiration from kokkugia…
From the project Swarm Urbanism…
“Agency operates through two main processes within this proposal: firstly by using design agents to self-organise urban matter and secondly encoding intelligence into urban elements and topologies.”
“Agents within this system are not generic, instead there is an ecology of agent systems which interact, each set of agents programmed with their own desires and information.”
There are two key points here that they use to relate a swarm model to urban phenomena. First, the interaction between agents and their landscape. The agents have a series of behaviors, but they are also directly affected by information that is stored in the landscape, and the landscape itself is affected by the agents. This is the basic definition of an ecosystem.
Second, there is a hierarchy of agents, each performing their own task. In this model, there is a group of agents who aggregate matter, similar to the behavior of termites in building a colony. A second class of agents operates more like a slime mold, to build infrastructure by connecting certain locations in a minimal system.
I think both of these points are crucial when starting to think about how swarm models can be applied to think of the organization of a city.