Ideas

Moonshot ideas, radical collaborations. Information to feed your imagination.

  • The Refurbished Me

    The Refurbished Me

    “Who wants to live forever?” The late, great lead singer of Queen, Freddie Mercury, crooned. “Well, I wouldn’t mind the option.” I responded flatly, the guy…

    The Refurbished Me

    “Who wants to live forever?” The late, great lead singer of Queen, Freddie Mercury, crooned.

    “Well, I wouldn’t mind the option.” I responded flatly, the guy parking his car at ASU.

    While on campus, I pondered that recent conversation with my stereo. I surmised that Dr. Doris Taylor, Director of Regenerative Medicine Research at Texas Heart Institute, heard the same tune. She is at the bleeding edge of a new frontier: whole organ decellularization (a.k.a. prepping organs for transplant). Her techniques are disquieting for some, almost Promethean, but intriguing nonetheless.

    Dr. Taylor started with a rat-heart. She inserted a catheter into the recently harvested organ and slowly drained its original cells. Then, after cleansing the heart, only its connective tissue remained. She proceeded to fill its empty spaces with fresh cells acquired from the body of its new host.

    The lifeless organ also needed an electrical signal, mechanical blood pressure, and oxygen. A bioreactor sufficed; an artificial body that resembled a pickle jar on life support. However, that’s no pickle inside. They could tell because after merely a week of lying dormant, the heart spontaneously began to beat…on its own.

    It was 2005 when Dr. Taylor forged that organic, thumping “Ghost Heart.” It was a first for laboratory scientists, as well. What’s more, Dr. Taylor has shown her process works with other organs, like a set of lungs. Her efforts have reanimated the dead organs of rats and pigs. She sees this technology working in humans in years, not decades.

    The arch-nemesis of a successful organ transplant is tissue rejection. Dr. Taylor’s phenomenal technique could allow for organ transplantation from cadaver to patient without such concerns. It could negate the need for a lifetime of anti-rejection medications that suppress the immune system, cause nausea, tremors, and more.

    Humans are creatures of life, but all of history implies that we’re built for death. Yet, here we are, at the brink of reconfiguration with lifespans no longer truncated by decay. There is an entire torso crammed with life-sustaining goodies, which ripen and long for replacement. The potential of Dr. Taylor’s labors are a means to that end – and a pathway to immortality.

     

    Image courtesy of 2il org, used under a Creative Commons license

  • Ed Finn at the Congress on the Future of Engineering Software 2014

    Ed Finn at the Congress on the Future of Engineering Software 2014

    On April 25, 2014, Ed Finn spoke at the 2014 Congress on the Future of Engineering Software, in Scottsdale, Arizona, about the Center about thinking big, science, technology and the power of narratives to shape the future.

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    Ed Finn at the Congress on the Future of Engineering Software 2014

    On April 25, 2014, Ed Finn spoke at the 2014 Congress on the Future of Engineering Software, in Scottsdale, Arizona, about the Center about thinking big, science, technology and the power of narratives to shape the future.

    Watch the video to learn more about the cultural imaginary, “science fiction of the present,” 20km tall steel towers, flying drone routers, 3D printing with Moon dust, and how science fiction storytelling sets targets for our technological future.

  • Announcing the Winners of The Future – Powered by Fiction Competition

    On May 14, 2014, Intel futurist Brian David Johnson took to Google Hangouts to announce the winners of The Future – Powered by Fiction, a competition that…

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    Announcing the Winners of The Future – Powered by Fiction Competition

    On May 14, 2014, Intel futurist Brian David Johnson took to Google Hangouts to announce the winners of The Future – Powered by Fiction, a competition that challenged young people worldwide to think critically and creatively about possible futures we can build together. The competition is part of Tomorrow Project USA, an ongoing collaboration between Intel, the Center for Science and the Imagination and the Society for Science & the Public.

    Check out the video, recorded live at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Los Angeles, CA, to learn more about the competition, our ten $1000 prize winners, and the 33 other stories that will be published in a series of quarterly anthologies throughout 2014 and 2015. You can also see a full list of winners at: http://isef.tomorrow-projects.com/quarterlyvisions. And keep an eye out for the first in the series of four anthologies, titled The Future – Powered by Fiction, which will be released in summer 2014.

     

  • Digital Culture Film: Under Fire!

    A young heroine must fight not only her nemesis, but the doubts from the very city she tries to save.

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    Digital Culture Film: Under Fire!

    A young heroine must fight not only her nemesis, but the doubts from the very city she tries to save.

    I created this 2D frame-by-frame animated short for my Capstone project for ASU’s Digital Culture program during the Spring 2014 semester. I wanted to create a relatable character with real-world problems. When overcome with discouragement and doubt, it is easy for us to lose sight of our passion and drive. As a 2D artist, it can become quite disheartening to hear 2D frame-by-frame animation classed as a “dying art.” Through the use of  Under Fire! I hope to reinvigorate a drive for traditional animation as well as encourage audiences to get back to the roots of their passions. I worked in collaboration with fellow Digital Culture seniors Alexa Boccieri and Antwaun Smith to complete this project.

    “Under Fire!” debuted on Friday, May 2nd, 2014 at ASU’s Digital Culture Showcase.

    Learn more about my work at http://www.elizabethveghart.com

  • CSI and Imagining Possible Futures on Public Radio

    CSI and Imagining Possible Futures on Public Radio

    This article originally appeared on ASU News Ed Finn, director of ASU’s Center for Science and the Imagination, and an assistant professor in the School of Arts,…

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    CSI and Imagining Possible Futures on Public Radio

    This article originally appeared on ASU News

    Ed Finn, director of ASU’s Center for Science and the Imagination, and an assistant professor in the School of Arts, Media and Engineering and the Department of English, was featured on the public radio program To the Best of Our Knowledge, in an episode titled “Imagining Possible Worlds,” about science fiction and visions of the future.

    “Let’s use the nightmares and the dreams together to come up with a roadmap to the world that we really want to live in,” said Finn, responding to a question about the center’s “thoughtfully optimistic” approach to the future that seeks a middle ground between sunny utopias and gloomy, apocalyptic dystopias.

    Finn also discussed the center’s Project Hieroglyph, which teams up science fiction authors with scientists, engineers and other researchers to create ambitious visions of the near-future, grounded in real science and technology. The project, according to Finn, strives to create “new icons … big ideas that could drive lots of different people to work on a problem collectively.”

    To the Best of Our Knowledge is produced by Wisconsin Public Radio and distributed to hundreds of public radio stations nationwide by Public Radio International. Other guests on the “Imagining Possible Worlds” program included authors Kim Stanley Robinson, Junot Díaz and Samuel R. Delaney, as well as Gates McFadden, a cast member on “Star Trek: The Next Generation.”

    To listen to the full program or download it for free, visit To the Best of Our Knowledge. You can also download an extended interview with Finn to hear more about the Center for Science and the Imagination, Project Hieroglyph and thoughtfully optimistic visions of the future.