back to article RISE of the LIVING CHAIR: Boffins recruit E coli to build futuristic materials

In a few years your furniture could be made of a living material, according to a team of MIT boffins who have worked out how to get bacteria to help them manufacture items. The breakthrough was announced on Sunday in the Synthesis and patterning of tunable multiscale materials with engineered cells academic paper published in …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tomorrow's World my arse!

    "In a few years your chair could be made of a living material"

    My chair is already infused with a rich soup of methane, hydrogen sulphide and living E.Coli, in fact I suspect that the original seat padding material has already rotted away (much in the manner of a pair of farted-out underpants), leaving only my aromatic bottom burp residues holding the thing together.

    Quite why MIT want to add more E.Coli to this brew I can't really tell, but I suppose if you're getting a research grant for lighting farts then you've got to hold out some hope to "investors".

    1. Michael Habel
      Coffee/keyboard

      Re: Tomorrow's World my arse!

      You owe me a new Keyboard..... Have a Beer on me!!

    2. Jonathan Richards 1
      Go

      Re: Tomorrow's World my arse!

      TFA said

      > to program cellular systems to make new materials from the bottom up

      Ha, I see what you did, there!

  2. frank ly

    re. Living Chairs

    It's been done many times. e.g:

    http://inhabitat.com/pooktre%E2%80%99s-living-growing-tree-chair/

  3. thx1138v2

    One small step for slime

    Once the chair relieves the stress points in your bum and you snooze off, the chair arms encircle you and the gold nano wire snakes up your neck and burrows into your spinal cord and you are a part of THE MATRIX. No need for light sensitive growth. The slime will now have human batteries so there's no need to worry about cloudy days.

    Has anybody checked the MIT boffins for such attachments yet? Are the boffins "programming" the slime or is the slime already "programming" them to accomplish its domination of the world?

  4. JaimieV

    Not the same because they're made of killed fungus, but

    still interesting - http://www.newscientist.com/blogs/culturelab/2013/01/moulding-fungal-furniture.html

  5. McHack

    Where's the LiveSkin™?

    I'm still waiting for the living clothes Sci-Fi promised me decades ago, that can survive off my sweat and shed skin cells and keep me clean and non-smelly, that'll self-repair any small tears or rips, and for what part they aren't self-cleaning I can just rinse them off while wearing them with the rain or the lawn sprinklers.

    Sure, the first generations will fit and look like latex. That a problem?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Coat

      Re: Where's the LiveSkin™?

      Um, we already have that. It's called 'skin.'

      Feeds itself, repairs itself, easy to clean. And for the "smelly" part, consider how you'd smell without your skin.

      Now, a live coat that turns into a flying suit...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Where's the LiveSkin™?

      " and keep me clean and non-smelly..."

      Where's the fun in that? Sounds like those de-odourising underpants, 4K tellies, and other technological solutions invented by the clever-but-misguided, and now searching for a problem.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Where's the LiveSkin™?

      > and keep me clean and non-smelly

      How are you going to be able to find an IT job then?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Extended application

    Why stop at simulating chairs? What about simulating chair-warmers too? Specifically bureaucrats? The benefits are many: No salary, better listener, more efficiency, less ugly. What's not to love?

  7. LaeMing Silver badge

    Red Dwarf

    One of the books (not TV AFAIK) had quite a bit about living-furniature GELFs, and the equal-rights movement surrounding them.

    1. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: Red Dwarf

      Yup, Red Dwarf was the first thing I thought of when I read this...

      The Voter Colonel says: Vote YES for 10 glorious more years of facist backed genetic slavery.

      Or else we'll send the SnugGiraffe round to give a speech.

      (FYI : The Snuggiraffe was a Gelf with the legs of a giraffe, the body of a slug, the head of a cobra and the overall appearance of being soaked in mucus. It had been designed to eat human waste and excrete smokeless fuel.) See 'Last Human' by Doug Naylor.

  8. Graham Marsden

    "Imagine having a chair where you sit on it for a long time...

    " and it remodels to support areas of stress."

    Sounds like the Chairdogs from Frank Herbert's "Heretics of Dune"

    "I hate it when they try to cuddle me" - Reverend Mother Odrade.

    1. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: "Imagine having a chair where you sit on it for a long time...

      Which reminds me,

      The Reverend Mothers had a really sensible approach to governmental oversight. 'Watch Mothers' observed the Mother Superior all the time and noted her behaviour as well as decisions 24/7 (or whatever plaentary rotation time applies).

      We could really do with more watch-eyes pointed at our decision-makers (since they are so keen on recording our every movement for future use, it's obvious they need careful watching for the inevitable other signs of delusion and meglomania).

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: "Imagine having a chair where you sit on it for a long time...

        We could really do with more watch-eyes pointed at our decision-makers (since they are so keen on recording our every movement for future use, it's obvious they need careful watching for the inevitable other signs of delusion and meglomania).

        Trouble was, people already saw a problem with that approach, thus the question, "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?" (or "Who watches the watchers?"). For anyone set as a watcher, who watches her, and then you have to wonder who watches that watcher and so on.

    2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: "Imagine having a chair where you sit on it for a long time...

      Sounds like the Chairdogs from Frank Herbert's "Heretics of Dune"

      I was thinking the same, but from The Dosadi Experiment, as I never got past the third Dune novel. I don't think chairdogs appeared in the first few Dune books, but I may have missed or forgotten them.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    they want you DEAD

    Don't you think these viruses will be used to create a zombie population of humans as justification to wipe out the larger population of humans?

  10. Johnny Canuck

    Since its E. coli, wouldn't a stool be more appropriate?

  11. willi0000000

    be afraid

    if they add this stuff to the water or food supply.

    [the next thing you know, you'll be trying to shit a sofa]

    1. ammabamma
      Terminator

      Re: be afraid

      > the next thing you know, you'll be trying to shit a sofa

      This gives a new twist to the phrase "shitting bricks".

      On a more serious note, has anyone stopped to consider the ramifications of mucking around with bacteria that can survive in and infect a human host? I have this vision of the world ending not with a bang, nor with a whimper, but with a "Bio-Ikea Grand Opening!" advert on the telly...

      1. Grikath

        Re: be afraid, re: safety.

        Yes, people have, at length. Mucking about with bacteria is inherently dangerous, even with non- pathogenic beasties, and there's many protocols in place to ensure safety and reduce the risk of contamination into the "wild population" to a minimum. More so for pathogens even.

        That being said, there's no safeguard against undiluted stupidity, so you can never be entirely sure. But the chance of a nutrient-dependent bacterium surviving an overnight autoclave session and then surviving in the wild is ...well... pretty slim.

    2. Montreal Sean

      Re: be afraid

      As long as it's a sectional couch it shouldn't be too bad.

      A double pull-out on the other hand...

    3. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Unhappy

      Re: be afraid

      "[the next thing you know, you'll be trying to shit a sofa]"

      Like El Reg readers have never had that experience before.

      Late nights. Oversized dodgy takeaway. You get the picture.

      1. Crisp

        Re: Like El Reg readers have never had that experience before.

        Sugar Free Gummi Bears

        1. launcap Silver badge
          Mushroom

          Re: Like El Reg readers have never had that experience before.

          >Sugar Free Gummi Bears

          .. have the opposite effect on me. Like most sugar-free stuff :-(

          Which is unfortunate with my newly-aquired sugar intolerance.

  12. Grave

    replicators

    looks like an early version of replicators. this shit will go so wrong - for humans :)

  13. earplugs

    Enough Gold, what about bitcoin quaffing bacteria?

    Call it E coli Mtgoxia for its ability to snag bitcoins from your wallet seated on the couch.

  14. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Up

    Staggering.

    This might actually be the first step toward proper nanotechnology on the Drexler model.

    Thumbs up, but of of course it is V 0.1 tech.

  15. Allan George Dyer Silver badge

    Did no-one else think of...

    1. The Master's furniture line in Terror of the Autons

    2. The mattresses on the Vogon spaceship in H2GT2G

    I think I'll stay standing.

    1. Chris King Silver badge

      Re: Did no-one else think of...

      "The Master's furniture line in Terror of the Autons"

      You beat me to it - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXrAK6sUZ_0

  16. TheOtherHobbes

    IKEA - this time it's personal.

    1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      "I'm afraid you'll have to eat two more servings of the meatballs if you want the ottoman as well, sir."

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Rise of the Furniture

    "Imagine having a chair where you sit on it for a long time and it remodels to support areas of stress."

    Or waking up to your chair slowly digesting you

    1. Chris King Silver badge

      Re: Rise of the Furniture

      That assumes that the chair hasn't already injected you with some sort of poison that paralyses you and slowly dissolves your innards.

      Something to think about when you go to bed tonight - sleep tight...!

  18. Crisp

    So what do I do when my sofa eats my coffee table?

    See title.

  19. Norman123

    It is good to know that e coli is good for things other than plants (as fertilizer since ancient times).....

  20. Alan Esworthy
    Coat

    Warning to those new on the employment market

    The bosses may tell you it's biotech, but it's really just another crap factory job.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The real "nano-tech."

    My daughter wanted to major in biochemistry and genetics. I heartily approved. Once she got to university however, she changed her major to computer science. We argued over it, of course. I pointed out to her that all the truly difficult work had been done in computer science, and that the next big thing was in the field she had first set out to master. I knew that there would be more to genetic engineering than better medicines and improved crops. I believd it then and I still believe it. This is your real nano-tech, boys and girls. Make no mistake about it.

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Happy

      Re: The real "nano-tech."

      "My daughter wanted to major in biochemistry and genetics. I heartily approved. Once she got to university however, she changed her major to computer science. We argued over it, of course. I pointed out to her that all the truly difficult work had been done in computer science, and that the next big thing was in the field she had first set out to master. "

      Yay.

      Go hogs

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