It’s January 3rd of whatever year this is. A time of rebirth and renewal; the moment when all thoughts turn to the future.
I’m here to tell you the future brings…
For my first post of the year, I give you mushrooms. They will play a huge role in your lives going forward from this moment.
I’ve had a relatively minor relationship with fungi. They were fun to kick in childhood, and I produced my fair share of those “mushroom decomposing on paper” art projects.
Time passed. They showed up in soups and salads, I was largely indifferent.
I was too scared to eat the hallucinogenic ones my college days, but I enjoyed seeing others try. One my fondest memories is watching friends collectively force down a crop of psilocybe cubensis mushrooms (harvested from cow poop) by mixing them into peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. The retching and gagging were gold, but the finale was better: an already-tripping friend tried to make “mushroom tea” but placing a gallon-sized plastic pitcher of water on a hot burner, with predictable results.
Aside from these occasional bright spots, the mushroom hasn’t had a huge effect on me. That all changes NOW.
Popular Science recently published a story that will color the future forever. Prepare yourselves: you can now buy mushroom-based furniture.
I know, right? Mind blown. I can already imagine the dinner party when I reveal my new purchase:
Walker enters his cavernous dining room dressed in a tuxedo and formal evening cape. Twelve guests, equally well-coutured, await him at a gorgeous dark wood table, six on each side. They rise at his approach, but he raises a hand.
“Please, remain seated.” They sit; he makes careful eye contact with each guest. “You are all wondering why I invited you here this evening. I thank you for coming despite the mysterious nature of my request. Some of you I have known for many years, some I have met only recently, but please know that you presence here indicates my great respect for your position and influence. As such, I will not delay further in my revelation.” He pauses, preparing himself. “The table you are sitting at now is not actually wood. It is made… from MUSHROOMS.”
Can you imagine the reactions? Many would run screaming; some would void their bowels right then and there. The strongest would maintain composure, and they will become my greatest allies…
I really need to get a cavernous dining room. Or any dining room.
So I’m being slightly hyperbolic about the impact of fungus-based furniture. But I’m drawn to these stories of minor, weird scientific breakthroughs. I see them all the time, tucked in between the big-ticket future shock items, and I always wonder about the scientists/inventors that toiled away to get there.
Let’s say I’m cruising the futurism/popular science news and I see the following four stories:
Corporate neural dust clouds control consumer thoughts
First robot elected to Australian parliament
Driverless cars stage violent rebellion against Uber overlords
Scientists discover frog tears make effective spinach fertilizer
Which one do you think I’m clicking on first? FROG TEARS. I want to know about the dedicated team that discovered this miracle. I imagine the champagne toast that came after the frog tear spinach plants outgrew the control group spinach plants.
I made a big deal about fungi at the beginning of the post, so I can’t let them go just yet. Some other fun tidbits:
The largest living organism on Earth is a fungus in Oregon that spans 2,384 acres and is estimated to be 2,400 years old (and possibly much older).
There is an Amazonian mushroom that can live exclusively by eating polyurethane. Before discovered, we did not know of a single natural process that could break down polyurethane, which is used to make EVERYTHING.
A mushroom can make its own wind to spread spores instead of just dropping them straight down like a sucker.
That’s it. Go forth into this new year armed with the knowledge that the mushroom will definitely, probably continue to play a role of indeterminate value in your life. You’re welcome.