In Brief

A tower of mushroom-bricks, 10 years of orbiting Saturn, and a village in Detroit for those who want to live fossil-fuel free

Several members of the TED community had notable news this week. Below, some highlights:

In 2010, Eben Bayer introduced a mushroom-based material that grows from agri-waste into any shape you want. It’s been used mainly as a packing material up to now, but this week, MoMA’s PS1 in Queens unveiled a soaring, sunny tower built of mushroom bricks that were grown in shiny metal molds. The 40-foot tower is temporary — at the end of the exhibit, the materials will simply be composted in local gardens. (Watch Eben’s talk, “Are mushrooms the new plastic?”)

Carolyn Porco fondly remembers the day 10 years ago this week when the Cassini spacecraft began its orbit around Saturn. She writes, “I fall again into the stupefying, nonverbal state of consciousness that came over me that night: a disorienting whirl of impressions, from a calming, almost numbing, sense of relief to brain-befuddling ‘We’re not in Kansas anymore’ astonishment.” (Watch Carolyn’s talk, “This is Saturn.”)

The Nation offers a pointed and interesting roundup of books on choice, including Sheena Iyengar’s The Art of Choosing and Renata Salecl’s The Tyranny of Choice. (Watch Sheena’s talk, “How to make choosing easier” and stay tuned for Renata’s talk next Wednesday!)

TED Fellow Camille Seaman wants to build a community in Detroit where 600 to 1,000 residents will grow their own food, gather their own water, and treat their own waste. Seaman calls it “Earth Village” and just launched a Kickstarter campaign to get this fossil-fuel free community off the ground. (Watch Camille’s talk, “Haunting photos of polar ice.”)

Kevin Briggs spoke at TED2014 about the difficult work of patrolling the southern end of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, a popular site for suicides. What we can only assume is good news for him: last week, the board of directors of the bridge voted unanimously in favor of funding a suicide barrier for the bridge’s span, a $76 million project. While parts of the funding must still be approved, many are elated about the decision. (Watch Kevin’s talk, “The bridge between suicide and life.”)

E.O. Wilson is behind a new interactive textbook called Life on Earth that sparks the scientific imagination with beautiful photography, 3D animations and video interviews with scientists. “I taught elementary biology for 42 years and I didn’t need a lot of explanation to see immediately what a big difference this will make,” he says of why he got behind the project. (Watch his TED Prize talk, “My wish: Built the Encyclopedia of Life.”)