Be the Dolphin You've Always Wanted to Be

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This guy isn't a biohacker. He's just riding a dolphin throwing a peace sign. (Reuters)

1. Body hackers try to acquire animal powers.

"Now, some prosthetics wearers, body hackers and amateur scientists are taking this to a different levelWith technology and biology at their disposal they are aiming to mimic animal abilities – not their appearance – and they can already do things once thought impossible for humans. Some have been augmenting their physical abilities in places we haven’t evolved to thrive, such as water. Nadya Vessey, for example, was born with a condition that prevented her legs developing properly. A few years ago, she had a mermaid tail designed that allows her to glide through the water like a dolphin. Others are turning to technology to sense a world that lies hidden to everybody else. Take, for instance, the invisible world of electromagnetic fields. Sharks have pits in their snout called the ampullae of Lorenzini with which they can sense disturbances in the electric field caused by their prey. Birds, lobsters and bees, meanwhile, are thought to sense magnetic fields, which some use to navigate."


2. Google Plus being put out to pasture after allowing Google to integrate the data about you from all their services.

"We’ve heard Google has not yet decided what to do with the teams not going to Android, and that Google+ is not 'officially' dead, more like walking dead: 'When you fire the top dog and take away all resources it is what it is.' It will take copious amounts of work for it to un-zombie, if that’s even a possibility."'


3. What Soul Train did

"You had this entire other world of black style and black music being beamed into houses every Saturday…for a lot of people, this was the first exposure to a large spectrum of black life. Even the commercials they would run made an impression: I know people who, when you bring up Soul Train, the first thing they mention are the Afro-Sheen commercials! [Laughs] It was an immersive experience. Keep in mind, it was a regional thing as well…all the colors and the style were very Southern California-based, so you'd see outfits that were much more flashy and flamboyant than you might see in the black communities of Chicago, or New York, or Philadelphia. So in the same way that dance styles like popping and locking, or waacking, traveled around the country because of the show, the same thing happened with fashion. One person wears something wild on the dance floor, and soon, you'd see it popping up everywhere."


4. A collection of beautiful advertisements from Modern Publicity.

"There is a new spirit - in road making, in architecture, in engineering, in advertising. Where it will take us eventually no man can forecast. The picture of the future in my mind is stupendous. We move today in what the mathematicians call geometric progression. Each fresh discovery leads us to make ten others.... Twenty-five years ago man had not flown. Twenty years ago the escalator was but a dream. Ten years ago the speed and smoothness of the six-wheel motor-bus would have seemed incredible. Ten-five-two years ago, the British industry did not possess the vital power to move men's minds which breathes from these advertisements."


5. An unsung milestone in the electrification of the nation.

"At this moment there are no causes of fires which are being more closely studied than electric wires and lights. Within four years the value of the property annually destroyed by electric wires and lights has risen from less than one-half million dollars to more than five and one-half million dollars. During the year 1889 electric wires were charged with their first great conflagration, viz., the Kingston Street fire in Boston, Mass., on November 28, 1889."


Today's 1957 American English Usage Tip

beef. Pl. beeves; sometimes (US) beef.

Pretty sure we were right there.


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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science website in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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