July 10th: Tree Farts, Cyanobacteria Airborne Poison, the Eusocial lifestyle, and Almost One Year of Handwavium

Tree farts, pond scum and cooperative ferns.

After I write my Rabbit Hole of Research episodes I keep my eye on the science, and will update if I see some interesting new research popping up. Last year I had an episode on Killer Plants (read it here), and here are some new botanical findings:

1) So, one article explores the idea that Ferns create eusocial colonies (what is an eusocial colonies you ask?) According to Britannica: An eusocial species, is any colonial animal species that lives in multigenerational family groups in which the vast majority of individuals cooperate to aid relatively few (or even a single) reproductive group members—simply put: think insects like ants or mole rats living in a colony. I can hear Spock’s voice in my head, “Logic clearly dictates that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few” —and now we can add ferns to the list of eusocial species—read more here.

2) So, it has been long known that Cyanobacteria over growing in ponds, “blooms,” can produce toxins, but a new report shows evidence for airborne toxins

3) And one last botanical laugh—Tree Farts! So, it seems “ghost forests”—“Ghosts forests” are drowned forests/marshlands with the remains of dead and decaying trees under water (read more here). These marshlands have been found to generate one-fifth of greenhouse gases, but when compared to other sources of greenhouse gases, this is a minor contribution. 

I hear you out their asking, “Jotham, If the trees are dead then what is causing these farts. Microbes are what causes farts! And Just like you reading this newsletter, the microbes in your own intestines, digesting your food causes your farts. (I apologize to all the ferns for assuming a human-centric viewpoint that only humans can read).

Hopefully, this holds you over until the next edition of Rabbit Hole of Research—What, you checked the calendar and the next edition is the one year edition! That’s right we made it one year! So, to celebrate I’m going to revisit that first edition and return with more Sexy Space! To get ready for more Handwavium and Sex in Space you can reread that episode here.

Science Quick Hits: June 12th episode

Before I jump in I want to take time to thank everyone who wrote to me or commented on my last episode on the science of cryonics (if you missed it, here is the link: https://mailchi.mp/e762b3f1d4b4/jothams-monthly-newsletter-cryonics). A couple readers wondered why I said cryonics and not cryogenics like you read in books and hear in movies.

Definition time:

Cryogenics is the production and behaviour of materials at very low temperatures

Cryonics is the low temperature-freezing (usually at −196 °C or −320.8 °F or 77.1 K) and storage of a human corpse or severed head, with the speculative hope that resurrection may be possible in the future.

Similar words, but in movies and books cryonics is the term they should be using, but Handwavium need not obey definitions. 

Okay, on to the 24,000 years and sex in space.

Okay, I’m not going to make you wait, let’s talk birds and bees or in this case mice. Remember, a long time ago when I first started this newsletter I explored the ins-and-outs of getting busy in space, or the difficulties (you can reread that episode here). One of the issues was space radiation and what it could do to sperm during space travel. A recent study was just released (check it out here) that in short frozen mouse spermatozoa stored on the Interntional Space Station (ISS) was not affected by space radiation and produced viable and genetically healthy offspring. This is good news for space travelers that one day want to reproduce. 

Next, a story straight out of science fiction, a 24,000 year old organism was revived from frozen Siberian Permafrost. Wasn’t this how The Thing got started—put the flamethrower down MacReady—oh never mind.

This is cool, but this group also discovered and revived a 30,000-year-old nematode worm, Arctic moss and some plants. “Now, the team adds rotifers to the list of organisms with a remarkable ability to survive, seemingly indefinitely, in a state of suspended animation beneath the frozen landscape,” the press release stated. 

Understanding how these multi-cellular organisms can be frozen and revived will be important in future space travel and cryonics (see what I did there).

That’s two quick hits of science. Hope you enjoyed and I’ll try to keep you up to date on the science that dosen’t make the headlines (like morphing pasta noodles or two new species of woolly flying squirrels discovered)

May Update: What happened to April?

Not much personal news to update you with, so I thought I’d share a photo from a project I was working on at work, modeling limb development in embryos. On the big screen, the green is the nucleus and the blue is the outline of the cell body. On the little screen you can see the all the electron micrograph of the cells that I’m modeling. 

As many of you know, my debut novel, “Will You Still Love Me If I Become Someone Else?’ was released on February 23rd 2021. Still haven’t read it, go check it out here. Hopefully, with COVID restrictions easing (folks are getting vaccinated which is good) I may be able to do book signings and other fun things, stay tuned for details! And I’m working on two new Novellas releasing later this year. Check out the cover:


Preorder for ‘Moonlight: A Limited Edition Paranormal Romance Anthology’ is now available here. The first draft of the novella about Eve who is a werewolf (And yes, I did a science of werewolf episode) looking to protect her pact, but finds love along the way—is hot off the keyboard and will let in cool off before I start editing. Working title is “All Your Stars Are But Moonbeams in My Hair.” What do you think about the title? Email and let me know.

And, you read correctly, i said two novellas are being released this fall. The second will be in the Emerging Worlds Anthology. I am doing a post-zombie novella titled, “The Cure”. They promised the Cure would end Zombie and return life to normal, but nobody promised normal would be easy. I’ve wanted to write a zombie story for some time, and looking at post zombie life is fun. I’m about 14K words in (Whoa, I’m half way there…now that song is stuck in your head).

And don’t worry, there will be a new issue of Rabbit Hole of Research on May 29th, and it’s going to be frosty! If you want to read past issues, check them out here!

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