Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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organic, responsive, bioengineered sidewalk

paths and roads where they are needed
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You know how on a large campus people always walk across the grass because the paved paths fail to be where they are needed? Then people end up beating their own path in the grass over time and eventually it turns to mud and everyone is miserable.

Well the idea here is to engineer a kind of hard lichen that enjoys being walked on, so it would spread and thrive in the places people walk the most. It would be salty in composition to retard snow and brightly colored so that people could see it at night (phosphorescent?) it would have a sandpaper-like texture so people wouldn't slip.

That way natural paths could be made based on people's walking patterns and we wouldn't have to do so much paving.

Perhaps the same idea could be applied to roads . . .

futurebird, Feb 17 2001

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       Frank Lloyd Wright believed that once you built the buildings...that you should come back in a year to see where to put the sidewalks. In my experience, civil engineers have never managed to "guess" where people would walk and place sidewalks appropriately. (I also don't believe that civil engineers completely understand the concept of getting from Point A to Point B). This is an interesting idea as long as mud and slush problems could also be eliminated...it would also have to be really hard due to the amount of bikes/skates commonly found roaming campuses (unless you have separate bike/skate paths). Also, I'm sure women who wear high heels will insist that their heels should not sink into the lichen. However, I'm all for less cement....
Susen, Feb 17 2001
  

       There are certainly plenty of places that followed Frank Lloyd Wright's advice (or came up with the same concept independently). On most campuses I've seen, a trail of mud is generally replaced by a sidewalk sooner or later.   

       Most of the lichen I know is pretty fragile...
egnor, Feb 17 2001
  

       Sod-o-moss-ochism!
ping, Feb 18 2001
  

       it would be nasty if you fell over on this 'sand-paper like texture' especially if you were on your bike/skate as my heavily scarred elbow can assure you that smooth concrete is already rough enough
chud, Feb 18 2001
  

       <aaaughs! at Ping's pun...>
StarChaser, Feb 18 2001
  

       chud - I can't imagine it would be worse to fall onto lichen than onto asphalt or concrete, unless the lichen were derived from sawgrass or something.   

       Anyway, the lichen should also be engineered to *require* being walked on to thrive. That way, if the traffic patterns change, the old paths will slowly die back and revert to crabgrass or something.
wiml, Feb 21 2001
  

       . . . pathways . . .and walls and ceilings and **gag** coughs (choked by kudzu vine)
futurebird, Feb 21 2001
  

       Your name is futurebird and the last three ideas of yours I've seen involved...walking. I love that! Another crescent roll for you
The Military, Jun 30 2001
  

       as for what chud said about scraping,how about a rubbery texture?
technobadger, Jun 30 2001
  

       Darn, I came up with a similar idea involving gene-engineered grass roads and parking lots. Well, it's a good idea anyway, so a croissant for you. All of you genetic engineers, get to work! BTW, a good name for the plant would be "grassphalt." ;-)
mrouse, Apr 13 2002
  

       Futurebird's original requirements are quite extensive.   

       The main challenge is building a plant that provides a flat, smooth, hard surface (wheelchairs, book carts, and millions of other wheeled devices will require the surface to be hard).   

       I really like this notion of self-tuning sidewalks that wiml alluded to. Super-genius.   

       egnor's comment about the "trail of mud" sparks the idea: How about putting seeds in your shoes that are released when you're walking in mud? Now, see, when you walk, you'll plant seeds where they need to be.   

       Viva self-building roads!
white, Jun 25 2002
  

       Yeah but you know what? Soon we're going to run out of grass too! Not everything should be made out of rubbers and plastics! Leave our grass the way it is..it's nature...let's not screw with it!
irinel, Feb 19 2004
  

       There is a concrete paving material that would fit your idea. It is called "pervious concrete". The concrete contains voids of 15 to 25% and allows water to pass through it. A naturally ocurring bacteria grows in the voids and eats the hydrocarbons that drip off your cars & trucks. Trees love the stuff because air and water can reach their roots, so the tree roots don't try to grow up through the concrete, and the trees don't die from lack of air and water. It's great for stormwater control because you can store the water in a stone base below the pervious concrete, and eliminate retention ponds.
bluto2, Sep 04 2004
  

       This idea is brought to you today courtesy of the "random" button. Additional sponsors include   

       >>> " The Normzone Foundation - dedicated to ... being dedicated, and stuff "   

       and   

       " Grapefruit - because they're both sweet, and sour at the same time " <<<   

       [bluto2] created their account in early 2004, never created or annoed on another idea, and then lost the account in the crash of late 2004.   

       This idea is brought to you today courtesy of the "random" button.
normzone, Sep 21 2016
  
      
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