Architecture and Your Microbiome

And four other intriguing things: pastoral capitalism, turning animal videos into data, Kim Gordan with Sun Ra, and robot exceptionalism.

1. The architecture that surrounds you probably changes the microorganisms inside you.

"The interactions between building design, microbial diversity, and health might be stronger in other types of buildings — such as hospitals. Green is part of a consortium studying how microbial communities develop in two newly constructed hospitals, one in Chicago and one in Germany.

But she thinks those interactions will turn out to exist in other types of buildings too. She notes that scientists are only just beginning to discover how the microbiome, the collection of microbes that live inside our guts, can impact our health by interacting with everything from the immune system to the brain. And where do those microbes come from? 'We pick them up from the built environment,' Green said."

+ Or as my friend Nicola put it, "Urban probiotics!"

2. A very brief history of pastoral capitalism.

"Pastoral capitalism results from the intersection of three forces: the structure of corporate management; decentralization of American cities; and the dominance of a pastoral aesthetic. These forces convened to produce three interrelated suburban forms: the corporate campus, the corporate estate, and the office park. These landscape types, with their distinct layout of buildings, parking, driveways, and surround, materialized to serve a particular stratum of the corporate hierarchy...

"Pastoral capitalism restructured the metropolitan landscape of American cities and accounts for well over half the office space in the U.S. Corporate campuses, estates, and office parks became American norms and as companies moved overseas, they replicated these homegrown patterns. Eventually international corporations imitated their American counterparts and occupied places such as Silicon Fens in the United Kingdom, Telecom Valley in Southern France, and the Singapore Science Park. Now, Indian software companies attempt to keep the brainy in Bangalore by building corporate campuses.

"Because landscapes of pastoral capitalism are engrained in the fabric of low-density, auto-dependent suburbs, they present an obvious target of re-design as we confront the challenge of a post-peak oil metropolis. Rethinking sprawl might begin most effectively with the forms and uses of corporate campuses, estates, and office parks, especially their vast parking lots, roadways, and bucolic greenspaces. In so doing, they can be transformed into places that are both dense and connected, an essential step in building sustainable metropolitan regions."

3. A free program to turn animal videos into behavioral data.

"The ZooTracer software can provide accurate tracking of multiple, unmarked, interacting animals in arbitrary video footage. It also can cope with variations in lighting, camera movement, and object appearance—and it does so regardless of the type of recording device or habitat.

'Most other video-tracking software packages require the user to have thought quite hard about what they were going to do before they did it,' Joppa observes. 'For example, using extreme background subtraction algorithms allows for a heavily automated object detection and tracking process. But the actual collection of video footage appropriate for such algorithms can become a trying affair—and it certainly doesn’t work for most field biologists!'"

4. Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon and composer Sun Ra.

"I love this!! My brush with Saturn"

5. The mass adoption of intelligent robots might occasion greater changes to law and regulation than the Internet has.

"Under the conception I have articulated, a technology is exceptional if it invites a systemic change to laws or legal institutions in order to preserve or rebalance established values. The Internet, different as it is in ways, has not necessarily occasioned this level of change. We have laws that relate specifically to the Internet, but, for now, I find I am hard-pressed to point to systemic innovations in doctrine that owe their origin to cyberspace. Unlike, say, maritime law, cyberlaw has not exported doctrines the way it has imported them. And unlike the radio, the Internet did not lead to a new agency. In contrast, the essential qualities of robotics may lead to systematic shifts in doctrine and perhaps even new institutions as this technology permeates society...

"[e.g.] We should not reflexively discount the prospect of a Federal Robotics Commission (FRC)."  


Today's 1957 American English Usage Tip

ascertain. The only current use is to find out or learn for a certainty, by experiment, investigation, or examination; to make sure of, get to know. It is often wrongly used for a simple discover or understand. See ELEGANT VARIATION & WORKING & STYLISH WORDS.

My Brush With Saturn

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