Category Archives: SF

Using mycelium to create a self-healing wearable leather-like material

Source: Using mycelium to create a self-healing wearable leather-like material


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.

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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

Astronauts could use Mars soil for 3D-printing on the Red Planet | Space

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

See the whole thing here: link

Killing Gravity

Great SF book. Quick read.

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Mars Xi can kill you with her mind, but she’ll need more than psychic powers to save her in Killing Gravity, the thrilling science fiction space adventure debut by Corey J. White.
Before she escaped in a bloody coup, MEPHISTO transformed Mariam Xi into a deadly voidwitch. Their training left her with terrifying capabilities, a fierce sense of independence, a deficit of trust, and an experimental pet named Seven. She’s spent her life on the run, but the boogeymen from her past are catching up with her. An encounter with a bounty hunter has left her hanging helpless in a dying spaceship, dependent on the mercy of strangers.
Penned in on all sides, Mariam chases rumors to find the one who sold her out. To discover the truth and defeat her pursuers, she’ll have to stare into the abyss and find the secrets of her past, her future, and her terrifying potential.

Ursula K. Le Guin – RIP

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 – K. B. Wagers

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. 🙁

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The adrenaline-fueled, explosive conclusion to the Indranan War trilogy by K. B. Wagers.
Gunrunner-turned-Empress Hail Bristol was dragged back to her home planet to take her rightful place in the palace. Her sisters and parents have been murdered, and the Indranan Empire is reeling from both treasonous plots and foreign invasion.
Now, on the run from enemies on all fronts, Hail prepares to fight a full-scale war for her throne and her people, even as she struggles with the immense weight of the legacy thrust upon her. With the aid of a motley crew of allies old and new, she must return home to face off with the same powerful enemies who killed her family and aim to destroy everything and everyone she loves. Untangling a legacy of lies and restoring peace to Indrana will require an empress’s wrath and a gunrunner’s justice….

You can get the whole series on Kindle here: The Indranan War (3 Book Series)

Self Portrait (Astronaut)


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.

Samuel R Delaney’s Take on Information Gathering

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)

One Small Step

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?

Kiosk by Bruce Sterling

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!”