On Biohacking, Dry Ice Cream, and Being a Clown

Last weekend I headed off to Woodward Reservoir to join the Symbiosis Gathering. Symbiosis is the second gathering of its kind that I go to, and it’s hard for me to describe what it is. I like to think of it as a giant art project, a lifestyle festival, or maybe a playground for adults. It’s a playground where people come to listen to great music, enjoy gorgeous art projects, practice yoga, meditate, and possibly explore themselves with nudity and/or drugs. All by a beautiful and serene lake in Northern California.

But, I am not writing this to talk about any of that.

For me, my experience at Symbiosis was more of an educational one. In addition to the packed festivities, I attended a number of workshops that I found insightful, interesting, creative, or outlandish. I wanted to briefly share some of these experiences here.


Biohacking:

Biohacking is a field that I had been completely oblivious to. I was not aware that there are kits out there you can buy with chips that you can implant in your body to give you, let’s say, “super powers”. A kit presented to us at the workshop is made and sold by dangerousthings.com. It’s an RFID chip that, once implanted in your hand, can be used to replace your home and car keys entirely. It effectively turns your hand into a fob. Of course, it’s not approved by any agency and is to be used completely at your own risk. Despite that, one person in the workshop volunteered to have one implanted.


The Digestive System & the Topless Model

In this workshop we learned about the digestive system, but in a rather outlandish way. The workshop was “taught” by a physician, an artist, and a topless model. The artist started painting the digestive system on the model while the physician was explaining how the digestive system works.

For us, students, we were all given sketchpads and charcoal. After the physician gave her briefing, the artist gave us tips on how to draw and sketch nude models, along with how to draw the digestive system on top of that.

To my slight surprise, I felt like the presence of a topless model wasn’t at all erotic, but having her as a catalyst to draw the digestive system was interesting and, admittedly, effective.


Smoothie + Dry Ice = Ice Cream

I unfortunately missed the first part of this cooking workshop, but one thing I learned is that you can use dry ice in food! The chef made a vegetable smoothie and mixed it with dry ice to create some delicious ice cream. Because of the dry ice the ice cream tasted a little carbonated at first, but if you let it sit out for a few minutes that carbonation goes away. I want to try this with smoothies I make one day.

The dry ice and the smoothie were together mixed in a blender. Small quantities of dry ice are added a time. Here's a little snippet of what that process looks like. You can see the fumes of the dry ice flowing out of the blender.


How Arachnids Have Sex

Another workshop was given by a biologist specializing in arachnids. She had discovered a few new species herself in her travels in the tropicals. Fast facts about things I learned in this session:

  • There are 100,000 known species of arachnids, and it's estimated that 90% of arachnid species remain undiscovered.
  • Scorpions give birth while spiders lay eggs. In fact, female scorpions do make eggs, but they hatch inside the female then the female gives birth to it.
  • In some species of spiders, the female kills and eats the male after mating.
  • In some species of spiders, the male mutilates the female’s genitalia to prevent other males from mating with the same female. Ouch!
  • Some spider males have feathers like peacocks, and they use it to attract females.
  • Spiders are musical, and some spider males play a “symphony” to a female that can range from 30 minutes to 6 hours to attract the female for mating. Here's a quick video that shows how this can look and sound like:


These were all a small fraction of the workshops that I attended. Other workshops I attended were about hacking the financial system, how to make sauerkraut and pickles, feeling euphoric with a cacao ceremony, exploring your senses with sensory speed dating, popping and waving, and more!

There was so much to explore that weekend, and it made me realize more and more how I enjoy learning, especially when bundled with a creative and outlandish environment like Symbiosis. More to come.

Oh, and this doesn't count as a workshop, but I'll throw it here anyways. I am constantly accused by people that know me that I am way too serious, so here's me and friends at Symbiosis making clowns of ourselves!

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Admittedly, we weren't very happy clowns.