Organic Fashion

The BBC just published quite an intriguing article about new technologies being integrated into the fashion world:

A bomber jacket made from a biological ‘leather’. Courtesy of the BBC article and

While many people are looking at integrating digital technologies into fabrics and clothing designs, I found the highlight on grow-able fabrics even more interesting.

Suzanne Lee is a fashion designer in London who is investigating methods in which a biological ‘skin’ from a kombucha-like process can be dried and molded into fabrics and 3D clothing. Since the material is completely biological, it can simply be composted after a few years with minimal total environmental impact.

While still in the exploratory phase, I think it’s a pretty cool idea! The leathery-like material that results looks unique and edgy when sewn into jackets, and the 3D molding process could be great for making innovative shoes, hats, or other structural fashion pieces.

Depending on the material’s strength I imagine it could also be effectively used for umbrellas, marquees, etc where improving the compostability of these common and often disposable objects could make a big impact.

However, Suzanne does note that she can’t yet make a water-resistant version, so I guess the umbrella is out for now!

Here’s Suzanne’s TED talk: and webpage: for more info.



Venus Transit… from cloudy Cambridge

The recent transit of Venus across the Sun marked the last chance any of us will have to witness such a rare crossing event. Very sadly, I was only able to do this virtually via the NASA live webcast and the Astronomy Picture of the Day site, which refreshed its solar image every 15min during the transit, courtesy of data from the Solar Dynamics Observatory. Incidentally, the APOD site today published a remarkably detailed image of the transit:

In Cambridge, we’ve been experiencing distinctly un-June-like weather for the past week and half, and at 4am when the UK had the chance to catch the tail-end of the transit as the sun rose, we continued to have cloud.

However, clouds do not apparently mean all is lost. One of my favorite photographs to emerge from the 5th/6th of June was actually taken not far away, in Oxford.

I think the heavy clouds in the photo add a great deal of drama to an already magical event. Kudos to Dr. Andrew Steele for the picture!