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Plastic built by food poisoning (sort of)

Apparently bacteria can be engineered to produce thermoplastics. This is not a fact I knew and is casually mentioned on the website of the BiOrigami team of undergraduates from Standford and Brown universities who are developing a method of producing plastic and then causing it to fold into useful objects based on E.coli bacteria. This is rather different to injection moulding or extruding an object!

The motivation behind the project is to allow tools to be produced in space by astronauts, for example, on flights to Mars, to help reduce the weight of equipment taken.

Website link: BiOrigami Stanford-Brown

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The wrong trousers went into space in 1971!

Inspiration can come from many places and often seems to come from seemingly unrelated fields. I was recently at the Science Museum’s Cosmonauts exhibition and found the clothing particularly fascinating. (Frustratingly for me there was almost no information on what the garments were made of or how they were constructed. I wish I could have opened the cabinets to have a closer look) One item in particular caught my eye and I couldn’t help but wonder if Nick Parks of Aardman Animations might also once have seen them?

Website link: Chibis Lower Body Negative Pressure (LBNP) Device, NASA

Website link: Cosmonauts: Birth of the Space Age, The Science Museum, 18th September 2015 – 13th March 2016

 

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What happens to spacesuits when they’re not being used?

In 2011, Edgar Martin spent 9 days exploring the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre in star City, Moscow as part of a project to record the work of a space programme from an artistic point of view. This particular project stemmed from a childhood fascination with spacesuits, in particular, what happenned to them when they’re not in use. After many days of being taken around the standard tourist and journalist sights he finally found the room where the suits were stored “It was like christmas and I was 10 again.”

Here at Thread we understand that feeling; one dream project that has been mooted is to work on spacesuits. The technical precision and robustness of design must be extraordinarily high. We like a challenge though.

Website link: Edgar Martin’s best photograph, The Guardian, 11th December 2013

Website link: Edgar Martin: The Rehearsal of Space & the Poetic Impossibility to Manage the Infinite, 2014