Bio-reactors: converting waste into food

Someone should make a game about this:

Autoclavable bench-top laboratory bioreactor used for fermentation and cell culturesSpace scientists propose technology which converts human waste into food:

… A Penn State research team has shown that it is possible to rapidly break down solid and liquid waste to grow food with a series of microbial reactors, while simultaneously minimizing pathogen growth.

“We envisioned and tested the concept of simultaneously treating astronauts’ waste with microbes while producing a biomass that is edible either directly or indirectly depending on safety concerns,” said Christopher House, professor of geosciences, Penn State. “It’s a little strange, but the concept would be a little bit like Marmite or Vegemite where you’re eating a smear of ‘microbial goo.'”

… They reported in Life Sciences in Space Research that they grew M. capsulatus that was 52 percent protein and 36 percent fats, making it a potential source of nutrition for astronauts.

… [The process is] “quite robust and fast and breaks down waste quickly,” said House. “That’s why this might have potential for future space flight. It’s faster than growing tomatoes or potatoes.”

[Source: Microbes may help astronauts transform human waste into food @ Pennsylvania State University]

I like the phrase “series of microbial reactors” — it suggests a series of challenges that the player must overcome — a microscopic Mario, jumping from microbe to microbe, rescuing wayward proteins, defeating evil pathogens, turning that waste into food so the astronauts can reach Mars (where they will continue to eat microbial goo).

[Image: Autoclavable bench-top laboratory bioreactor used for fermentation and cell cultures. By Miropiro, www.bioreactors.eu, www.bioreactor.ch, www.lambda-instruments.in – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=29055211.]

Creating bacterial ‘fight clubs’ to discover new drugs

“Creating bacterial “fight clubs” is an effective way to find new drugs from natural sources.”

Bacteria Fight ClubThat is the conclusion of a team of Vanderbilt chemists who have been exploring ways to get bacteria to produce biologically active chemicals which they normally hold in reserve. These compounds are called secondary metabolites. They are designed to protect their bacterial host and attack its enemies, so they often have the right kind of activity to serve as the basis for effective new drugs.

… the “fight club” approach [analyzes] what happens when microbes compete.

… This procedure allowed the chemists to discover a new member of a class of biomolecules with broad-ranging activity ….

[Source]

Via Slashdot.

This could be modeled as a game, either for pure entertainment — fight, bacteria, fight! — or as an aid to research (with bacteria fights!).

Do Fruit Flies Have Emotions?

“For us, that’s a big step beyond just casually intuiting that a fly fleeing a visual threat must be ‘afraid,’ based on our anthropomorphic assumptions.It suggests that the flies’ response to the threat is richer and more complicated than a robotic-like avoidance reflex.Drosophila Thinking Question

This may be useful to game designers. Can we make a bot that actually feels fear … and if not, how close can we get?

Using fruit flies to study the basic components of emotion, a new Caltech study reports that a fly’s response to a shadowy overhead stimulus might be analogous to a negative emotional state such as fear — a finding that could one day help us understand the neural circuitry involved in human emotion.

[Source: caltech.edu]

Study:

Behavioral Responses to a Repetitive Visual Threat Stimulus Express a Persistent State of Defensive Arousal in Drosophila @ Cell Press

Media Mentions:

Fruit Flies Are Shown to Enter a Fearlike State @ NY Times

Animal emotions: Do fruit flies feel fear? @ CS Monitor

Reference:

Drosophila @ Wikipedia

See Also:

OpenWorm

OpenWorm

“OpenWorm is an open source project dedicated to creating a virtual C. elegans nematode in a computer.”

openworm.orgOpenWorm Logo

Via Boing Boing:

Wagner James Au sez, “OpenWorm, as the name suggests, is a collaborative open source project to computationally create a simple artificial life form — an earth worm — from the cellular level to a point where it’s sophisticated enough to solve basic problems. They’re still in early stages, with the latest demo, a developer on the project tells me, being ‘a particle simulation of five connected muscle segments moving together through a body of water.'”

See also Caenorhabditis elegans @ Wikipedia:

Caenorhabditis elegans /ˌseɪnɵræbˈdɪtɪs ˈɛlɛɡænz/ is a free-living, transparent nematode (roundworm), about 1 mm in length, which lives in temperate soil environments.
Caenorhabditis elegans (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:CrawlingCelegans.gif)

Yes. The Handy Vandal approves. More of this, please.

Update: October 14, 2013

I added this post to the “Somebody Should Make This Game” category.

Modeling a nematode is fine, hooray for Science.

But man does not live by Education alone — we also need Entertainment.

Can I get a giant weaponized self-assembling cyber-nematode as a first-person shooter, in a secret weapon-breeding hive beneath a Soylent Green factory? Anyone …?

I’d pay to play that game!

Quasi-Objects of Lorenzo Oggiano

“La vita è un processo reale e autonomo indipendente da qualsiasi specifica manifestazione materiale.”*
— Lorenzo Oggiano

Quasi-objects of Lorenzo Oggiano

“Quasi-Objects” regards data actualization, the production of biologically non-functional organisms and ecosystems as transient output of an operative practice: aesthetics of process…

lorenzooggiano.net

I find these forms entirely fascinating, and practically begging for game design applications.

The forms are computer generated. I have no further details, nothing about the software involved. But just from looking at these still photos, I can see algorithms at play which would make a terrific Boss Battle in a first-person shooter … The Blob meets The Matrix ….

Somebody ought to make a game based on these principles. They really should. I would pay to play such a game, and then pay more for the source code.

Via Boing Boing, via but does it float.


* “Life is a real and autonomous process independent from any specific material manifestation.”