Friday, May 26, 2017

This Is Who You Really Are

A story about short sightedness and insignificance.


Meet Skin Cell. A proud cell, it thinks itself superior to other cells because it inhabits the outermost layer of Body.

Skin Cell by GIANT microbes

This is Blood Cell. It considers itself above the rest and completely separate from Skin Cell. It argues its origin is what it believes to be the one and only core of Body - Heart.

Red Blood Cell by GIANT microbes

These cells disagree all the time over the answers to old questions. They wonder who is better and who should become master of all.

Their arguments are so small, though, that they are silent to Body - the higher observer.

Immune Cell, a cell supremacist, equally thinks itself more perfect, with a right to rule over others.

White Blood Cell by GIANT microbes

Therefore it starts attacking the other cells of Body.

Truth is these differences would be so insignificant compared to the dimension Body inhabits, that they would be practically nonexistent. But not the harm they would create. Body's awareness does not center on what an individual cell looks like, its boundaries, or its individual location. Body can feel though - it feels when cells are out of harmony. 

Their harmonious coexistence is what makes Body strong.

As we scale up, things are similar.


In this crowd we all look like cells under a microscope or tiny dots. Some of these dots would call a Higher Observer A, some call it B, others C. In this crowd some dots are white, others brown, others yellow. Does it matter? In this crowd three dots together represent a happy family. But wait, are we talking about a family with two moms? Two dads? Does it matter?

Again gender, physicality, or the shape of the boundaries that define would be so small compared to the dimension this higher observer would inhabit that they would become practically nonexistent:

What defines humans as physical entities is of little transcendence and invisible but their ripples of good or negative influence in the world are not.

Our lives are not our own. From womb to tomb, we are bound to others. Past and present. And by each crime and every kindness, we birth our future. -Sonmi-451, CloudAtlas.

For this higher perspective form, definitions, name or protocol become irrelevant but not the belief that we are separate from one another.

If we could only see the big picture.

Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. - Carl Sagan.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Aztecs beat the Conquistadors | Alternative History

What if the Aztec had met the Chinese?

In this alternate "what if" scenario, the Chinese discover America and introduce gunpowder to the Aztecs at the beginning of the 14th century. Visitations are few for they have no economic interests or dreams of conquests in the Americas, having the wealth of Southeast Asia right next door. Yet, they rewrite history. Contrarily, the Spanish were looking for faster routes to Southeast Asia by circumnavigating Earth, thereby their encounter of the new continent would have happened sooner or later.

Could it have happened differently, though? Take a look at this ship of Chinese admiral Zhang He from the beginning of the 15th century. These massive and so called "Chinese Treasure Ships" are said, as described by early European explorers like Marco Polo, to have existed as far back as the 13th century. Compare it next to Columbus' flagship, the Santa María, built not until the end of the 15th century.

via thoughtco

Surely those ships could've crossed the Pacific but the Chinese had no need, they lacked the economic incentive to do so. But what if an unborn Chinese explorer fuelled by simple curiosity and a visionary emperor had decided to set sail east? In this parallel universe, a Chinese expedition discovers America and ancient Mexico in the early 1300s. Some 200 years before Columbus' arrival. A few consecutive trips happen but enough for the young Nahua civilisation to learn the secrets of Chinese gunpowder manufacturing and more advanced metallurgy. The Chinese talk of mythical cities at the other side of the Pacific to European merchants and explorers. A few Chinese have settled along the American coast.

Aztec metallurgy via latinamericanstudies

Ancient Tenochtitlan, capital of the Aztec Empire:

Eventually, the Aztec empire uses this knowledge to invent fire weaponry and perfects it for more than a century, subjugating, faster than it originally did, the other cultures of Mesoamerica. Their empire grows towards the fertile south.

Tenochtitlan via latinamericanstudies

By the time the Spanish arrive a very different picture unfolds.
Spanish warring expeditions are defeated several times by these "new world weapons". Eventually the Chinese learn about these wars and the new Spanish discovery. Fearing an expanding European presence, they strengthen their settlements in the Americas, build military fortresses there and become backup to the Aztec.

Cortés and Montezuma

Unbeatable and strong, civilised trade is the only way forward. The Aztec empire joins a global economy and nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs, becomes the dominant language of America, instead of Spanish. Its writing system and demonstrated syllabary (Lacadena and Wichmann, 2004) make it to our keyboards.

Perhaps becoming, with larger amounts of information to process as the civilization grew unconquered, of more simplified strokes like in the Japanese syllabaries.

What would we look like if we were bred like dogs?

Parallel Universe: Bred by Aliens

The ancestor of modern dogs, an extinct population of wolves, looked very similar to the grey wolf. Through artificial selection though, prehistoric hunter gatherers, farmers and breeders caused major physical changes to our canine friends. 

It is hard to believe that a wolf looking creature is the ancestor of the Pug. But look at this picture of one from the 19th century. It still looked more like a canine.

More than a hundred years later, the result of intensive breeding is a creature hard to tell apart from a seal.

via breals/imugr

Could the same have happened to us?

Imagine a parallel universe where a highly intelligent and nefarious alien species colonises Earth and turns us into their pets. Is it too early for Halloween?

In this alternate reality, their malevolent technology allows for telepathic control of humans, forcing us to breed for centuries into the most sinister of shapes. We become their toys and companions, traded throughout their galactic Empire.

These sculptures by artist Patricia Paccinini could be just that, a glimpse into a world were selective breeding and genetic engineering backfires on us.

The Carrier by Patricia Paccinini via designboom

sculpture by Patricia Piaccinini via justart-e
sculpture by Patricia Piaccinini via justart-e
sculpture by Patricia Piaccinini via justart-e

Friday, May 12, 2017

Reinventing civilisation, reinventing food production

Welcome to the future of food

At the beginning of the 21st century only electricity and running water were considered indispensable parts of housing. 

By mid-century, however, most homes were directly connected to food growing systems. Local and decentralised, they changed civilisation by the roots, bringing unprecedented social transformation. Protected from the elements and self-maintaining through the use of solar energy and symbiotic systems like aquaponics, these edible landscapes spoke of a responsible abundance. One were human individuals had a right to connect with their food sources and exert power and control over their nutrition.

If a home was built, a local food source was built or expanded.

Uncomplicated to maintain and replicate, knowledge on how to procure these mini ecosystems was taught from infancy. Like a human photosynthesis, they were self-sustaining extensions of ourselves - our energy source.

Food reunited our neighbourhoods showing us our common nature and origin.

All around us, the city of the future was edible.

A Chain Reaction of Change

The above brought a freedom once unknown. The sharing economy evolved beyond Uber and Airbnb. In the new developed world the meaning of home was redefined, becoming an interchangeable, shareable and smart self-sustaining living space with the capacity to feed its dwellers. 

This allowed for people to live a life and not only make a living: the neonomads grew in numbers. Cycling, walking or driving the Earth in solar powered vehicles, our roots were free to resurface and meet our planet. Where you settled you found the essentials for survival. Inert dark grey and uninviting concrete replaced by a welcoming transparent of glass and green. 

In this planet, a step ahead of ours, an app in your mobile showed you a growing global grid of self-sustaining eco-villages. You would choose your next destination, able to trade your food secured home with someone else's, find an open doors dwelling or be welcomed where surplus allowed. New digital currencies facilitated mobility. Working and learning remotely from most corners of the Earth and having this freedom to go and see the wonders out there, towards welcoming destiny, and calling the human race your neighbor, changed our values and the way we perceived ourselves. This global organism of self-sustaining cells, villages and neighborhoods became our shared home.

via visitnorway

Your electric bike is ready. Packed with supplies from your local greenhouse, you will drive one week south to your next destination, alone or with your tribe, your friends and loved ones, to the place you will call home for the next months. And you had been doing so for 10 years.

via aurora-awards
Going off-grid once meant being separate, isolated. Now the grid was composed of self-maintaining cells, that delivered an abundance that could be traveled. We walked the Earth together and my home was everybody's home.

via vzavtra

via progrss