A pair of biotechnologists at Newcastle University, working with a colleague from Northumbria University, all in the U.K., have developed a way to use mycelium to create a self-healing wearable material. In their paper published in the journal Advanced Functional Materials, Elise Elsacker, Martyn Dade-Robertson and Meng Zhang, describe their process and how well it worked when tested.
Mycelium is a thread-like structure produced by some types of fungus. Prior research has shown that fungal colonies can arise with intertwining branching mycelium, resulting in the growth of large, matted structures. Such structures are typically found in the ground. Prior research has also shown that mycelium mats can be treated to produce a material known as mycelium leather, due to its resemblance to cow hide leather.
But as the research trio note, such treatments tend to kill chlamydospores—little nodules that allow the material to spring back to life given the right circumstances. After examining samples and the leathering process, they considered the possibility of changing things a bit to prevent killing the chlamydospores, which could allow the material to self-heal when put into a conducive environment.
The researchers grew their own batch of mycelium by adding active chlamydospores to a watery batch of carbohydrates, proteins and other nutrients. They then allowed enough time to pass for a thick skin to form on the liquid. The team then pulled the skin off the liquid and laid it out to dry. As it dried, they applied a mix of temperatures and chemicals that allowed the material to become leather-like without killing the embedded chlamydospores.
Testing of the resulting material showed it to be similar to other mycelium leathers in looks and characteristics. To find out if it could heal itself, the group punched holes in it and then placed it in a vat filled with the same liquid bath that had been used in its creation. Then they laid it out to dry, and as it did so, they noted that over time, the revived chlamydospores filled in the holes. Testing showed that the newly restored material was just as strong as an undamaged control sample, though they noted that it was still possible to see where the holes had been
Martian soil could serve as a 3D-printing material, researchers have shown, meaning it could be used to manufacture items on the Red Planet.
In a series of tests, Amit Bandyopadhyay, a professor at the Washington State University School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, and his team used simulated crushed Martian regolith to demonstrate its capabilities as a 3D-printing material.
The results may be crucial for future crewed missions to Mars.
This reminded me of a 2 page comic I did a while back, which shows 3d printing buildings in passing
I embedded the audio of this below (it’s from All Things Considered) but here’s a link to the article: The Affluent Homeless. Could this be our distributed, sharing future? I find it interesting that not everyone needs to own things. I would love to see an in depth article on this trend.
I just learned that Ursula Le Guin has died at the age of 88. She was one of the shining lights of science fiction and fantasy, and will be missed. From The Dispossed to The Left Hand of Darkness to her Earth sea series, and essays on writing and other subjects, she brought a sharp mind and a way with words that were unparalleled. She will be missed, but leaves a great legacy, which I will be enjoying throughout the rest of the year. NPR obituary
Beyond The Empire is the third book in a trilogy, and it’s just as good as the first two. I recommend the whole series, basically because you won’t know what’s going on in this one without reading the other two. You won’t be disappointed if you like space opera, military SF, or grand sweeping stories. I actually anticipated each book, luckily she writes faster than George RR Martin. Now I’m anticipating the new series with Hail and crew The Farian Wars, release date not announced. 🙁
I always loved space, and Science Fiction. I’ve dreamed of going into space, or to different a different planet to live since I was a kid. I got my first science fiction book (that I remember) in 1967 or 1968: The Beyond by Jean and Jeff Sutton, and have been reading SF and advocating space exploration ever since. At 54 I’ve pretty much given up on that dream, for myself, but hope that humanity does make it. It’s our only chance to survive, really. This year, for my yearly self portrait I painted myself as an astronaut, to commemorate that dream. There it is: Acrylic on Canvas; 14×11 inches.
Twelve years ago some public channeler had made a great stir because the government had an average ten hours videotaped and otherwise recorded information on every citizen with a set of government credit tokens and/ or government identity card. Eleven years ago another public channeler had pointed out that ninety-nine point nine nine and several nines percent more of this information was, a) never reviewed by human eyes (it was taken, developed, and catalogued by machine), b) was of a perfectly innocuous nature, and, c) could quite easily be released to the public without the least threat to government security.
Ten years ago a statute was passed that any citizen had the right to demand a review of all government information on him or her. Some other public channeler had made a stir about getting the government simply to stop collecting such information; but such systems, once begun, insinuate themselves into the greater system in overdetermined ways: Jobs depended on them , space had been set aside for them, research was going on over how to do them more efficiently— such overdetermined systems, hard enough to revise, are even harder to abolish.
Eight years ago, someone whose name never got mentioned came up with the idea of ego-booster booths, to offer minor credit (and, hopefully, slightly more major psychological) support to the Government Information Retention Program: Put a two-franq token into the slot (it used to be half a franq , but the tokens had been devalued again a year back), feed your government identity card into the slip and see, on the thirty-by-forty centimeter screen, three minutes’ videotape of you, accompanied by three minutes of your recorded speech, selected at random from the government’s own information files. Beside the screen (in this booth, someone had, bizarrely, spilled red syrup down it, some of which had been thumb-smudged away, some scraped off with a fingernail), the explanatory plaque explained: “The chances are ninety nine point nine nine and several nines percent more that no one but you has ever seen before what you are about to see. Or,” as the plaque continued cheerily, “to put it another way, there is a greater chance that you will have a surprise heart attack as you step from this booth today than that this confidential material has ever been viewed by other human eyes than yours. Do not forget to retrieve your card and your token. Thank you.”
Delany, Samuel R. (2011-03-01). Trouble on Triton (Kindle Locations 220-238). Wesleyan University Press. Kindle Edition.
Yeah the NSA etc. sucks. This is just one view of what a future society with very little, to no privacy, might look like. From Trouble on Triton first published in 1976 (I had it when it was just titled Triton)
and now I’m depressed. Is there any government agency more fucked up than NASA? Seriously. Not returning to the moon until 2020? We did it the first time in less than ten years, and it’s going to take another 11 years from now to do it again–when we have the infrastructure already? Let’s not talk about why we don’t already have permanent base there.
Did I mention I’m depressed?
A new piece of fiction from Bruce Sterling at F&Sf. Although I enjoy his non-fiction work, I love his fiction, and it’s good to see something new from him. It’s about technology, the internet, and revolution. Good stuff. Here’s an excerpt:
Ace lifted and splayed his fingers. “Look, tell me something I can get my hands on. You know. Something that a man can steal.”
“Say you type two words at random: any two words. Type those two words into an Internet search engine. What happens?”
Ace twirled his shot glass. “Well, a search engine always hits on something, that’s for sure. Something stupid, maybe, but always something.”
“That’s right. Now imagine you put two products into a search engine for things. So let’s say it tries to sort and mix together…a parachute and a pair of shoes. What do you get from that kind of search?”
Ace thought it over. “I get it. You get a shoe that blows up a plane.”
Borislav shook his head. “No, no. See, that is your problem right there. You’re in the racket, you’re a fixer. So you just don’t think commercially.”
“How can I outthink a machine like that?”
“You’re doing it right now, Ace. Search engines have no ideas, no philosophy. They never think at all. Only people think and create ideas. Search engines are just programmed to search through what people want. Then they just mix, and match, and spit up some results. Endless results. Those results don’t matter, though, unless the people want them. And here, the people want them!”