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)

Author: jomega22

Jotham Austin, II lives in Chicagoland with his wife and two sons. He has his PhD in Botany, and can be found taking electron micrographs of cells at The University of Chicago. His Rom-Com novella, “Tomorrow May Be Too Late” will be published as part of the romance anthology, “Askew Ever After,” January 2021. His debut novel, a sci-fi psychological thriller, ‘Will You Still Love Me, If I Become Someone Else?” will be released February 2021. Jotham recently started a newsletter that explores the science in science fiction (signup at jothamaustin.com). Preorder books and Follow Jotham on social media at https://linktr.ee/Jothamaustin

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