Bio-Design 3

Last night in the metro after reading all of the articles for this week’s class, I couldn’t help but imagine all of the tiny, microscopic microbes floating around everything completely unnoticed. I “saw” clouds of life swarming around people, trashcans, rats, and the river that runs below the tracks. Since I was younger, I’ve been a little bit obsessed with the idea that different organisms experience consciousness, but simply in ways that we just can’t interpret based off of our human umwelts, and reading the article about the german forester and the microbiologist who created animated characters to explain microbe behaviors just reinforced my inner-consciousness inklings.

Being the VR nerd that I am, I naturally started to think about ways that we could use virtual reality to explain just how teeming with life our environments (and ourselves) are. I’ve started to write out potential UX scenarios in which people are walked through a single section of NYC track through the eyes of a microbiologist interested in the mini-zoos ever present around us.

My third idea revolves around discussions about using psilocybin found in “magic” mushrooms as a drug to treat depression or in end of life care. After our discussion today about modifying yeast to produce varying drugs, I became interested in the possibility of creating yeast that produce psilocybin in a way that addresses concerns about uniformity throughout different batches of magic mushrooms. If the yeast was producing the chemical without the “grower” having to worry about external growing conditions (soil moisture, acidity, etc.), we may be able to regulate the yeast to produce an ideal amount of the chemical.

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