Exosphere academy: for when just talking about this stuff isn't good enough
  • chironexchironex August 2016
    So if any of you follow me or glims on the various social media things you'll already know that we are currently in Chile for exosphere academy. 
    For those that don't know, exosphere is a sort of alternative to the usual university non sense. Instead of lecture and essay's, we give you the tools you need to do actual science and then you spend the rest of the time doing actual science. There are a bunch of different streams that focus on different things. This time, glims was leading the biohacking stream where we learnt the fundamentals of real lab work and then set about working towards completing various projects of our choosing. We've got people working on all sorts of awesome things; trauma foam for gunshot victims, biodegradable cigarette filters, using chitosan to make biodegradable plastic materials, cleaning river pollution with banana peels and plastic eating fungi and so much more. We also made our own wine and ferments (pickled kiwis may be my new favorite thing, and my spiced mead was delicious), did a bunch of microbiological work and learnt how to troubleshoot on the fly. Honestly, it's been an absolute blast.

    And best of all it looks like the next program will be even better. The program is moving from chile to brazil and Glims and I will each be running our own streams. We'll also be working together in the lab we're building so there will be lots of overlap between the streams. His stream will focus on bioremediation, vertical farming, aquaponics, genetics and biomaterials. Mine will be focused on microbial fuel cells, graphene and advanced carbon materials (carbon nanotubes, graphene foams, etc etc), and general next gen power generation and storage. Though as I said, there will be a lot of overlap and move between so that the various projects can be as successful as possible. Some of the other streams look like they'll be awesome as well. There's a mars colonization stream, a python and machine learning stream, and even a drone racing stream. 

    So if you're tired of just talking about all the things we talk about on here and want to actually do something, this is the place. We'll give you all the skills you'll need and the tools to chase your projects to the end. But be prepared to work your ass off! I can't wait for the lab to be built and to get to work. Finally we'll be in a place where we can make some very serious progress on many of the projects that had to be put on the back burner.  Expect lots of fun and exciting things in the future!

    If you want to find out more click HERE. I hope to see some of you there in January!!
  • JohnDoeJohnDoe August 2016
    How much does that cost if I may ask?
  • glimsglims August 2016
    It won't be super cheap, but the actual price fluctuates depending on your situation and what you plan to bring to the program.  We've had two people in the bio program this time have novel discoveries that are journal paper worthy. One of them came in with no bio experience at all, and is now working on starting her own company. The other is chironex and he will be teaching next time. Another member decided to focus on his projects instead of interning at the Mayo Clinic. 

    What you get is 8 weeks of building things and housing in a group apartment building. The apartment has a floor for common area with a giant kitchen and lounge area.

    Workshop/lab space is a roughly 500m^2 warehouse with a bio clean room, and chem room and work area with kilns, workbenches for more physical stuff, and an acre of land outside.

    If you ever sat around and said "Oh, I could do something awesome if I just had the time/space/resources/whatever"... this is that chance.
  • JohnDoeJohnDoe August 2016
    3K should cover it no? I'll have to start saving for next year....
  • chironexchironex August 2016
    Also, I should have mentioned, you bet your ass you can get your grind on. We've implanted a bunch of the participants with magnets when we had some free time.
  • JohnDoeJohnDoe August 2016
    Typical or experimental? (Magnets)
  • chickendinerchickendiner August 2016
    is there gonna be something similar in europe?
  • chironexchironex August 2016
    Typical ones.

    Far as I know there isn't going to be one in Europe any time soon, if ever. If you want to participate you'll have to come to Brazil. We have people from 20 different countries in attendance this time. And through all the programs they've run, they've had people from 40 countries
  • JohnDoeJohnDoe September 2016
    That's really impressive.... Good program to see growing....
  • ChrisBotChrisBot September 2016
    Welp, I've applied. This sounds incredible!!
  • TheDiabeticGMTheDiabeticGM September 2016
    I am really curious, how did ya'll get involved with this?  Did you found it?  How often does this take place?  Anually? 
  • glimsglims September 2016
    Someone invited me to go, and the opportunities and potential for cool stuff was so great, I decided to keep working with them. I invited chironex to come down and he had a similar experience... Just one of those things.

    It used to take place every six months. However, after this program in January, there may be an interesting change in the scheduling that makes 'giant happy mutant workshop' a bit more permenant, but I don't know yet... January will be the first time in Brazil as well, so the space has expanded greatly. A great time to come and get a taste for it.

  • chironexchironex September 2016
    Over the next while both me and glims will be doing a fair bit of writing as well as making a few videos talking about the program and some of what we plan on doing. To start, we each wrote an article for outerplaces about our respective programs 


  • ChrisBotChrisBot September 2016
    I've been accepted! Looks like i will be shooting for the session scheduled in June!
  • WyldstormWyldstorm September 2016
    Not sure if this is thread littering or not.. 
    But i just felt i should should commend, gratulate and praise these kinda things. 
    The world needs more "Cave Johnson" kinda people, and this is as close as it gets.

    Will this kinda thing be open next year? (4k is fantasy amounts to me atm..)
  • chironexchironex September 2016
    haha thanks

    Ya this will be an ongoing program that will only get bigger. Though I would try and make it to the next couple programs. 

  • ChrisBotChrisBot September 2016
    @chironex, will you be there for the June program? It would be a pleasure to meet you
  • chironexchironex September 2016
    That's the plan!
  • JohnDoeJohnDoe September 2016
    Do you see them expanding or placing a cap on attendance?
  • glimsglims September 2016
    I strongly doubt they will cap attendance. The more people, the more cool things we can do.
  • ChrisBotChrisBot September 2016
    I emailed with a fellow named luke Blackburn. I believe he said they will be taking 45 or something around there.
  • glimsglims September 2016
    This is more of a matter of logistics. They are planning for that amount due to previous turn outs. But they won't turn away an excited participant.
  • ChrisBotChrisBot September 2016
    Bad news. I have elected not to attend the program this year. I am deeply saddened by this choice, but it really wouldn't make sense for me to go before I graduate.

    Hopefully I will get to meet you two at some other opportunity.
  • chironexchironex September 2016
    Aw that sucks. Well you'll just have to come to one of the next ones then!

  • chironexchironex September 2016
    So all the streams are having a little video made about them to show more of what we'll be doing.The one for my stream is done and was just put up. Check it out! 

  • BirdhandzBirdhandz September 2016

    I just watched your video and it sounds very interesting.  I had a MudWatt device that I left running for over a year but then I broke it.  For some reason, who knows why, I used bleach to keep the soil wet.  Obviously, that killed the microbes and stopped the power generation.  While trying to give it a boost of electricity to charge it back up (which usually worked), I turned the power up too high and burnt out the blinker board which was used to increase the voltage produced enough to flash an LED.  I really should buy another circuit and set that thing back up.  It was basically just an expensive toy or a demonstration but it was nice to see the light flashing away using power produced by microbes.

    I built my own devices the same as these ones were made using a few small, glass jars and copper wire for the electrodes.  The electrodes should have been carbon or something but, surprisingly, the coiled up copper wire did seem to work.  It took a few days or so before the power started being produced just like the bought one so I don't think it was just a galvanic reaction.  I had to use a joule thief circuit and link all the jars together in series to get enough power to run an LED but it did work.

    One trick I learned from playing with the MudWatt kit was that the soil should be sifted to remove the rocks.  Maybe they gave the bottom electrode access to too much oxygen or just didn't allow the current to flow as good but the thing worked much better after I switched it to sifted dirt.

    Good luck with your projects.

    I'd love to build a much larger version of this device to actually do something like charge a cell phone but don't have the electrode material to do it.  I never tried the divided cell type.  Mine, and the MudWatt, used a single container and had one electrode near the bottom of the jar in an oxygen poor environment and the other one placed on top where it was exposed to the air.

    Have you actually made usable power from one of these microbial fuel cells or is that what you hope to do at this academy?
  • chironexchironex September 2016
    I've been tinkering with this sort of stuff (micrbial cells, supercapacitors, etc) for years now and this past year I spent a lot of time working with graphene and nanomaterials. So the plan is to apply all of that to make a more powerful cell. The way I'm running the course is that I'll teach you how to make the materials and the basics, and then everyone will be responsible for designing and building their own cell. Whoever's works the best will be scaled up for the larger projects. I'll be building my own cells with everyone else so it'll be sort of a competition between teacher and student XD
  • ChrisBotChrisBot September 2016
    Wow, well this has been a wild ride. Looks like I am going to be attending this year. Hopefully during the August to October session. I better start fundraising. 

    If anyone happens to be close friends with some wealth and generaous philanthropist/entrepreneur, feel free to send them my way.... https://www.gofundme.com/2phpzttg
  • entoncesentonces October 2016
    This is incredible. Great work you two, and thank you for informing the forum! Can't wait to see what comes out of the sessions, and really hoping I can swing some travel plans around to make this work. 
  • Jthoma99Jthoma99 October 2016
    This program looks super dope. Do you guys have any opportunities for people with formal science/engineering training to do a work-study to help offset the tuition? I'm interested in signing up at some point but living on a stipend is tough :(
  • glimsglims October 2016
    We are currently working on this. If everything gets approved, this upcoming program should have that as an option.

    EDIT: let me clarify. We are working to get some of the streams accepted as university transfers. Like those 400 lvl classes where you go to a place and work, and it counts as credit. There is no plan to be paying people to go and learn. However, you would (soon) be able to use tuition money to legitimately pay for a class and have it apply to your credits.
  • decaldecal October 2016
    I applied..  Can bring my OpenPCR (it's one of the early self-assemble units, not the ChaiBio dual-channel qPCR model, but if someone could help me get up to speed with Oligonucleotide synthesis and the lab procedure for AGE, that would be next on my list..) 

    Basically, what's happened was I studied DNAC in the mid-2000's when PCR's were still like $15K, so the course didn't have a lab component and I never learned the practical side of it.  However, I still know know the fundamental theory pretty much inside out.

    Also into Philosophy (minored in it), Python (self-taught), Entrepreneurship (read Re-engineering the Corporation by Hammer & Champy) and there's probably some other subject matter areas we can intersect in that aren't on the official list.     
  • glimsglims October 2016
    You can bring whatever you like :)
    We'll also have a pcr unit there, as well as all of the other requisite lab hardware for doing the things you mentioned.

  • chironexchironex November 2016
    Exciting news! Exosphere now has it's own subreddit at r/exosphere. Many of the fellows, participants and alumni of exosphere have done some incredible work over the years and we wanted a place where we could share all of it,. We also wanted a place where we could all share content, ask questions and discuss ideas. Also for everyone who's curious about exosphere it's a great place to see what kinds of things we get up to, and to interact with us
  • ChrisBotChrisBot November 2016
  • chironexchironex November 2016
    We've been generating a ton of new content and its all getting collected in the reddit for ease of organization. If you haven't already I'd highly suggest checking it out. I've already written 2 articles, Glims has written a couple and there are some project writeups and articles from some of the other fellows. For example, 1 of them built a sonic camera and it's super cool. 
  • chironexchironex January 7
    So with the program about to officially start on monday, I figured it was time for a brief update. We've (glims and I) now been in brazil for 2 weeks and it's gorgeous. We're surrounded by mountains covered in rainforest. The biodiversity is apparently higher here than in the amazon, so that's pretty cool. I really wanna see a capybara in the wild. I've been helping glims get ready for his course while also rebuilding my own. Due to a slight hiccup i've had to pivot a bit and so will now be doing some radio astronomy (detecting the sun, storms on jupiter, that sort of thing), various other radio bits (i'll go into more detail in a sec), building some lasers, and teaching how to build fusors and other vacuum systems. I may expand that further based on availability of materials and interest, but that's to be decided later. The radio stuff we've been doing is picking up transmissions from passing weather satellites and decrypting the signals to get the live images. Once we perfect this, we'll try and pick up broadcasts from the iss. It's been very interesting and fun. We're on antenna number 2 LINK (the first one was hilariously crude, but still worked, even though it was made out of a pencil LINK). I'll still be running the original curriculum about microbial fuel cells and stuff in june, and will be adding a few more fun bits like a bit of holography and stuff. So if you were interesting in that but couldn't make it to this program, that'll be your chance.

    I'll let glims talk about his stuff when he gets a chance, but it's also going well. The short version is, we're getting set up in 2 new lab spaces and getting a massive field (we chose the fucked up one on purpose) to bioremdiate into a lush fast growing forest on half and a food forest/garden on the other half.

    TL:DR it's awesome here and ya'll should come down. Also the price is being reduced to 3k for the next program, so it'll be more affordable
  • ChrisBotChrisBot January 7
    Thanks for the update!! My best friend is currently attending and I think you may have met him. Does the name Ben ring a bell?

    EDIT: apparently you have considering his reflection is in the laptop screen of that video you posted!
  • chironexchironex January 8
    haha ya just met him the other day when we were doing the first recording (as you saw XD) 
  • ChrisBotChrisBot January 8
    I've been talking to him a lot and it is only making me more and more excited to attend the program in October!
  • chironexchironex January 11
    Today we presented the various streams to the students. For those curious about what I'll be up to, here's my slides https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1t3C-jAnz_RvV9N8vnAIa7e0WSq0zYa-7vW5PZl7Bqus/edit?usp=drivesdk
  • glimsglims January 11
    I am allergic to slides so I will just write out a bit on what we are doing in my program in the coming week. I have also had to adjust a bit as things are always prone to change.

    You'll not that these projects aren't "grind-y" per se, but chemical engineering and molecular biology are fundamental skills to move forward.

    Project one is bioremediation of heavy metal contaminated water sources. We are going to be using both a standard purification method (built ourselves) to both set the bar and also to get a grasp of the chemistry, and then we will be using some plant based affixation techniques to compare.

    Project two is a continuation of the development of chitosan based polymers, including molecular level modification of the chitosan to alter it's properties, including hydrophobicity. Last time, one of our participants made a pair of sandals and walked two kilometers in them with no damage.

    Finally is the aggressive tree project. We'll be using genetic engineering and permaculture techniques to develop trees that grow faster and larger than their poor un modified siblings.

    Including Ben, thePhackt who no longer hangs out around here also came down and joined us. Lot's of people with transhumanist leanings. Lot's of really intense coders and hardware people. An extremely diverse crowd this time around from all over the world, with an even more diverse collection of philosophies. 

    The weather is overwhelmingly tropical, and this region has a greater diversity of species than the Amazon, so I'm extra thrilled.

    More updates later.
  • chironexchironex January 19
    So after combing through all the footage from the last program, I put together a highlight reel of some of the best moments, and the projects people were working on. Looking back, so much happened in such a tiny amount of time. For those curious about what we do, this video is for you. Check it out: LINK
  • chironexchironex January 21
    So yesterday was a lot of fun. The whole bioremediation stream packed ourselves into 3 cars and drove an hour into the mountains to explore the rainforest and collect fungal samples for our projects. The trip was spectacular and I can't wait to do it again. Made a video of the trip LINK