Author Archives: Nicola

The Photosynthetic Habits of Highly Effective Plants

As far as we know, the plant kingdom has not developed its own genre of productivity literature. There is no plant equivalent of Six Sigma, GTD, or Lifehacker — an absence made all the more alarming by the recent discovery of the existence of a subterranean plant “internet.” The result? Despite being the main thing […]

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Ten Landmarks of the Chinese Cryosphere

“The Price of Cold” — the story of my recent adventures exploring China’s artificial cryosphere — is now online in The New York Times Magazine. In it, I visit the world’s first and only frozen dumpling billionaire, hang out with the chef leading a one-man refrigeration resistance movement, and visit refrigerated warehouses and R&D labs […]

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Bike-Powered Rice

I was first introduced to the Randall’s Island rice paddies in miso form, as part of former Momofuku R&D chef Dan Felder’s experiments to develop a truly local terroir for the restaurant’s New York City iteration of Asian cuisine. IMAGE: 2014′s rice seedlings germinating inside the greenhouse at Randall’s Island Urban Farm. All photographs by Nicola […]

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From Paris, With Smell

The first telegraph sent across the Atlantic, on 16 August, 1858, read: “Glory to God in the highest; on earth, peace and good will toward men.” The contents of the first transatlantic telephone call, placed by AT&T President Walter S. Gifford on 7 January, 1927, were more mundane: a report the next day in The […]

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Vanilla Is The Old Black

The words “vanilla” and “chocolate” are used with equal frequency as both flavour and colour descriptors — but, curiously, the particular shades they describe have not always been the off-white and brown they signify today. Instead, according to anthropologist Kathryn Sampeck, one of the earliest appearances of “chocolate”-colour, in Abraham Werner’s 1821 Nomenclature of Colours, […]

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Forest Hydraulics

The maple syrup season was late this year, and so am I in posting these images of a late March visit to two sugar-making operations in the Hudson Valley. The first sugar shack we visited, Soukup Farms in Dover Plains, NY, is a third-generation maple producer with an old-school, wood-fired sap evaporator. IMAGE: The sugar […]

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The Carrot Hack

People who sell seeds have always struggled with an inconvenient reality: Their merchandise reproduces itself. So writes Lisa Hamilton, one of my fellow Fellows from the inaugural UC Berkeley/11th Hour Food & Farming Fellowship programme, summing up a problem that plant breeders have struggled with for generations: how to monetise the effort and ingenuity embedded […]

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Three Strikes

A quick promotional note about three events that I’m excited about — and will be speaking at — in the next few weeks. First of all, if you’re in New York City this weekend, I’ll be speaking as part of a panel discussion at Gizmodo’s Home of the Future. One of a series of awesome […]

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Fromidable!

Posted mainly for the pleasure of typing “Fromidable!” repeatedly. Thanks to the wonders of Canada’s bilingual labelling laws, and Loblaw’s stupendous “No Name/Sans Nom” brand packaging, we now have a fantastic new adjective to describe Johnny Hallyday’s greatest hits. And, of course, processed cheese spread. Fromidable! Posted to Twitter by @Wheeler, discovered via @doingitwrong.

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Mouldscape Architecture

IMAGE: Metamorfos 0611, Hans Jörgen Johansen via All Good Found/Liljevalchs. These atmospheric photographs document mould landscapes grown by Hans Jörgen Johansen. IMAGE: Metamorfos 0803, Hans Jörgen Johansen via All Good Found/Liljevalchs The Swedish artist is pioneering the practice of mouldscape architecture: designing and cultivating his way through a catalogue of horticultural styles, from the romantic […]

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