11 photos that answer the burning question: What if nature, but also robots?

If popular culture is to be believed, there are a few great divides that are immutable. Yankees versus the Red Sox. Android versus iPhone. Technology versus nature. Never the two shall meet.

But that last one? Maybe we should stop taking it for granted. A new Dutch exhibition called Robotanica is exploring how technology and robotics in particular might play a collaborative role with the natural world. The curators have picked 11 different projects from designers, scientists, and artists that imagine how technology could blend with, and ultimately benefit, nature.

Some are real research projects or concepts, while others are more like conversation pieces. But all of them are fascinating ideas. Check them out below.


1. One big idea seen in multiple exhibits — could robots mimic, or even replace, natural animals?

It's kind of cute. All photos from Transnatural/Robotanica.

The Delfly Explorer, for instance, is a small, robotic dragonfly that can flap its wings, control its height, and even see and avoid obstacles. Can you picture a bunch of these guys skimming across the surface of a pond?

2. Swarms of the Vessel robots could paddle across the surface of water.

These are considerably less cute. The lights are a nice touch though.

3. The Woodpecker Project could even mimic the sounds of a disappearing species.

Just wait until someone hacks in and starts playing AC/DC.

The Woodpecker Project uses speakers to recreate the sound of an endangered bird species. It's not just for show — the calls help keep insects away that'd otherwise hurt the tree.

It's not a perfect solution. “We maybe better focus on protecting the biological woodpeckers,” exhibit curator Arjen Bangma told Fast Company. But the mechanical version might be able to help out while the natural population recovers.

Other projects outside the exhibition, like the robo-bee, have also looked at using robots to help replace natural animals.

4. How about living cyborg insects that could be controlled via computer? Could they be used to help find people after a disaster?

This is the least cute of all. It's, like, negative cute.

While some of these projects are more conceptual, robo-bugs are very much a real thing. You can even buy kits yourself.

5. On the other hand, maybe we could use technology to shape the world to our liking. How about a coat that breathes along with us and that could alert us to air pollution?

If someone walked up to me wearing this coat, I'd just assume they're a superhero.

6. The Cloud Machine imagines a sky full of weather-making machines to help control the climate.

I bet it makes a "spfffff" noise. Also, what is this hanging from?

Geoengineering and climate engineering are real concepts, though many people are scared of unexpected consequences basically turning the Earth into a Hollywood disaster movie.

7. The Weather War examines whether we could use machines to help redirect tornadoes.

Yeah, let's put a mysterious black orb in this field. That's not totally ominous.

The exhibit is based on the 2012 documentary of the same name.

8. What would robotics do to the animals we keep? Would the lives of farm chickens improve if we placed them in a virtual reality simulation of nature?

I really don't see how any caption could improve this.

9. What if we released herds of wild rolling tumbleweed-bots to collect data about desertification?

"Drifting along in the tumbling tumbleweeeeed..."

Just imagine seeing 20 of these coming over the horizon.

10. Or released rolling, autonomous sunlight-seeking gardens onto our streets?

"Excuse me, hooman, but do you have any fertilizer?"

11. And, in this brave new world, will we need simulations to remember old-fashioned things like the night sky?

Looks like a kind of makeshift planetarium.

Whether or not these inventions and ideas come to pass, they raise a good point.

Technology doesn't have to come at the expense of the natural world. Scientists can use devices like GPS systems to help monitor animal populations; robo-animals can help documentarians get amazing shots of wildlife; and efficient appliances and cleaner energy can help us reduce our environmental footprints.

While you might have a hard time selling chicken farmers on those teeny-tiny virtual reality helmets, perhaps technology and nature don't need to be so divorced after all.

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Should a man lose his home because the grass in his yard grew higher than 10 inches? The city of Dunedin, Florida seems to think so.

According to the Institute of Justice, which is representing Jim Ficken, he had a very good reason for not mowing his lawn – and tried to rectify the situation as best he could.

In 2014, Jim's mom became ill and he visited her often in South Carolina to help her out. When he was away, his grass grew too long and he was cited by a code office; he cut the grass and wasn't fined.

France has started forcing supermarkets to donate food instead of throwing it away.

But several years later, this one infraction would come back to haunt him after he left to take care of him's mom's affairs after she died. The arrangements he made to have his grass cut fell through (his friend who he asked to help him out passed away unexpectedly) and that set off a chain reaction that may result in him losing his home.

The 69-year-old retiree now faces a $29,833.50 fine plus interest. Watch the video to find out just what Jim is having to deal with.

Mow Your Lawn or Lose Your House! www.youtube.com

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The world officially loves Michelle Obama.

The former first lady has overtaken the number one spot in a poll of the world's most admired women. Conducted by online research firm YouGov, the study uses international polling tools to survey people in countries around the world about who they most admire.

In the men's category, Bill Gates took the top spot, followed by Barack Obama and Jackie Chan.

In the women's category, Michelle Obama came first, followed by Oprah Winfrey and Angelina Jolie. Obama pushed Jolie out of the number one spot she claimed last year.

Unsurprising, really, because what's not to love about Michelle Obama? She is smart, kind, funny, accomplished, a great dancer, a devoted wife and mother, and an all-around, genuinely good person.

She has remained dignified and strong in the face of rabid masses of so-called Americans who spent eight years and beyond insisting that she's a man disguised as a woman. She's endured non-stop racist memes and terrifying threats to her family. She has received far more than her fair share of cruelty, and always takes the high road. She's the one who coined, "When they go low, we go high," after all.

She came from humble beginnings and remains down to earth despite becoming a familiar face around the world. She's not much older than me, but I still want to be like Michelle Obama when I grow up.

Her memoir, Becoming, may end up being the best-selling memoir of all time, having already sold 10 million copies—a clear sign that people can't get enough Michelle, because there's no such thing as too much Michelle.

Don't like Michelle Obama? Don't care. Those of us who love her will fly our MO flags high and without apology, paying no mind to folks with cold, dead hearts who don't know a gem of a human being when they see one. There is nothing any hater can say or do to make us admire this undeniably admirable woman any less.

When it seems like the world has lost its mind—which is how it feels most days these days—I'm just going to keep coming back to this study as evidence that hope for humanity is not lost.

Here. Enjoy some real-life Michelle on Jimmy Kimmel. (GAH. WHY IS SHE SO CUTE AND AWESOME. I can't even handle it.)

Michelle & Barack Obama are Boring Now www.youtube.com

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via EarthFix / Flickr

What will future generations never believe that we tolerated in 2019?

Dolphin and orca captivity, for sure. They'll probably shake their heads at how people died because they couldn't afford healthcare. And, they'll be completely mystified at the amount of food some people waste while others go starving.

According to Biological Diversity, "An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses and farms about $218 billion annually."

There are so many things wrong with this.

First of all it's a waste of money for the households who throw out good food. Second, it's a waste of all of the resources that went into growing the food, including the animals who gave their lives for the meal. Third, there's something very wrong with throwing out food when one in eight Americans struggle with hunger.

Supermarkets are just as guilty of this unnecessary waste as consumers. About 10% of all food waste are supermarket products thrown out before they've reached their expiration date.

Three years ago, France took big steps to combat food waste by making a law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food.According to the new ordinance, stores can be fined for up to $4,500 for each infraction.

Previously, the French threw out 7.1 million tons of food. Sixty-seven percent of which was tossed by consumers, 15% by restaurants, and 11% by grocery stores.

This has created a network of over 5,000 charities that accept the food from supermarkets and donate them to charity. The law also struck down agreements between supermarkets and manufacturers that prohibited the stores from donating food to charities.

"There was one food manufacturer that was not authorized to donate the sandwiches it made for a particular supermarket brand. But now, we get 30,000 sandwiches a month from them — sandwiches that used to be thrown away," Jacques Bailet, head of the French network of food banks known as Banques Alimentaires, told NPR.

It's expected that similar laws may spread through Europe, but people are a lot less confident at it happening in the United States. The USDA believes that the biggest barrier to such a program would be cost to the charities and or supermarkets.

"The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult," the organization said according to Gizmodo. "If you're having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that's not good for anybody."

Plus, the idea may seem a little too "socialist" for the average American's appetite.

"The French version is quite socialist, but I would say in a great way because you're providing a way where they [supermarkets] have to do the beneficial things not only for the environment, but from an ethical standpoint of getting healthy food to those who need it and minimizing some of the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that come when food ends up in a landfill," Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, told NPR.

However, just because something may be socialist doesn't mean it's wrong. The greater wrong is the insane waste of money, damage to the environment, and devastation caused by hunger that can easily be avoided.

Planet

The world is dark and full of terrors, but every once in a while it graces us with something to warm our icy-cold hearts. And that is what we have today, with a single dad who went viral on Twitter after his daughter posted the photos he sent her when trying to pick out and outfit for his date. You love to see it.




After seeing these heartwarming pics, people on Twitter started suggesting this adorable man date their moms. It was essentially a mom and date matchmaking frenzy.

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