I’m back with a few facts and more than a few daydreams to share, so grab your donuts and take a gander.
Carnivorous Plants Have the Best Personalities
Time for a new and exciting chapter in my life: I bought some pitcher plants for the yard. That curving hook structure, that gaping maw of insect death, the lullabies they sing by moonlight to lure in the unsuspecting…it’s pure magic. In all seriousness, I doubt these pitcher plants will transform into the insect-hoovering alien monstrosities I dream about, but it’s still pretty cool to have a plant with a unique personality. I’ve grown tired of the same old “hey I’m pretty, look at my flowers, I can photosynthesize and smell nice and you’re just a jerk” ethos of my other potted plants.
I remember having Venus flytraps when I was little and feeding them tiny cubes of beef and sometimes a fly when I could catch it. Weirdly gruesome but in terms of scale, quite harmless. This was long before the days of CRISPR technology and our nightmarish biological future (present?) so maybe I should be careful what I wish for…
Our Swedish Future
I’ve expected an explosion of voluntary, elective merging of humanity and computer interface for some time, with increasingly more radical line-blurring between human and computer, so I wasn’t surprised by this article about 3,000 Swedes having NFC microchips implanted in their hands for greater convenience with tasks like buying train tickets or having identity verified. But this isn’t the first time I’ve heard about the practice being more popular in Scandinavian countries, and that DOES fascinate me—what leads this particular geographic region and culture to seek this biotech merging more forcefully than others, if indeed that is the case? Sadly, I don’t have the time to do the research, so for now I will hypothesize that it’s the genetic expression of a new Viking need to conquer the civilized world. Feel free to do the research and prove me wrong.
Sunlight Is the Enemy
The sun is back. Like really, really back. I live in Atlanta, which in the summer can often feel like the apex of kid’s gigantic magnifying glass. I also have seriously pale skin—I’m like a cross between marshmallow and a ghost—but then I’m probably evolved to live in a Scottish bog or something, so boo on me for living in the Sun Belt. This is a time of year I always feel like science fiction has really let me down. By now, there should be a pill or a mobile hovering sun shade or SOMETHING to protect me from the sun, because the sun is EVIL (other than that bit about making all life on Earth possible).
I’ve decided the great question of my life is this: how far is too far to hold the door open for someone? Overestimate the distance, and you’ve failed in your civilized duty; underestimate, and you force the person to jog forward, causing them more bother than a closed door would have.
I take this test daily and fail more often than not.
Woolly Mammoths Walk Again
The concept of using recovered DNA to bring back the good ‘ole days is at least as old as Chriton. This Smithsonian article poses the idea of reintroducing woolly mammoths to the world as a potential climate change remedy. I can’t judge the merit of that cause/effect relationship, but I’d love to see some woollies roaming around again. It’s a vastly less scary and much cuter option than bringing dinosaurs back, and I’d likely be able to check them out in North America—my neighborhood! Bring ‘em on.
Glimpse of the Ancients
I’m an ancient history geek, and anytime someone finds the ruins of a long lost city that is actually named in the old scrolls and tablets, I get excited. This time, they’ve discovered Mardaman, an ancient Akkadian city of the third millennium B.C.E. One of the things I dig most about the ancient cities—and I mean the really ancient ones—is the insane amounts of time they lasted. Mardaman was around and thriving for at least 1,000 years. North America barely has a 400-year-old city. Readers from almost anywhere else in the world will understandably yawn at this, but I love to remember that Mardaman (and cities like it) probably changed very little during those 1,000 years in terms of technology or social organization. We are so used to rapid change—radical disruptions even in just the space of a few decades—that it can be sobering to think of cities and kingdoms hanging around for millennia with limited transformation aside from changes in leadership.