Sweet Potatoes In Space Questioned By Niven Fans
A little-publicized experiment in 1999 sent sweet potato cuttings into space aboard space shuttle Columbia. Findings from this five day mission study were not published until recently.
(Ordinary sweet potatoes - or are they?)
Seeds of several crops have been grown in microgravity, but this was the first test for plants grown from cuttings. Cuttings grow roots faster than seeds do, and sweet potato cuttings regenerate very easily. This made them ideal for the study.
According to the study authors, all of the cuttings produced roots and growth was "quite vigorous in both ground-based and flight samples." Except for a slight browning of some root tips in the flight samples, all of the stem cuttings appeared normal, they added. The roots on the flight cuttings tended to grow in random directions, sometimes perpendicular to the stems.
The interest of fans of sf writer Larry Niven are understandably piqued by this story. In several of his Known Space stories, he writes about the Pak. This race goes through several stages; child, breeder and Protector. The Protector stage is only reached when a mature Pak breeder encounters Tree-of-Life root; unable to resist gorging himself, the Pak infects himself with a virus that transforms him into the end stage of his race. Joints swell, skin turns leathery, strength increases and the brain grows. Don't forget the cranial ridge and beak.
See the Pak Protector surrounded by Tree-of-Life root in the picture below.
(Pak Protector with Tree of Life fruit)
The fact that Tree-of-Life root looks just like sweet potatoes MAY just be a coincidence. On the other hand, keep a sharp eye out for older men with beaks who are efficient, ruthless and totally amoral in protecting everyone who smells like their children.
Read more about science fiction foods; don't miss space beer and giant space vegetables. See Sweet potatoes flew into space on Columbia; thanks to an anonymous reader who submitted the tip on this story.
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 2/24/2009)
Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.
| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 2 )
Related News Stories -
Mmm, Tasty Duck From A Petri Dish
'Laboratories in every city had produced synthetic food and meats, grown in large test tubes...' - David H. Keller, 1933.
Eden-ISS, Greenhouse In Antarctica
'With this kind of light we could get the gardens going again." - Barbara Humbly, 1983.
Pangorin Restaurant Service Robots
What'll you have? Jawa juice?
Chowbotics Salad Robot, Sally
'... gorgeous eating places where we were served entirely by mechanical apparatus.' - Edgar Rice Burroughs, 1912.
Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!)
is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for
the Invention Category that interests
you, the Glossary, the Invention
Timeline, or see what's New.
Orwell's Memory Hole Looms Larger Thanks To Nvidia
'All history was a palimpsest, scraped clean and reinscribed exactly as often as was necessary.'
Pipefish Robot Checks Pipes Cheap
Just like capsule endoscopy, but for bigger pipes. That go underground.
Nifty New SDS Space Debris Sensor For ISS
'Their radars... could easily pinpoint the debris of the early Space Age.'
NanoRacks Space Station Module Concept Validated
Space junk into space architecture.
Nuclear Drones Could Fly For Years
'I sent my eyes on their rounds and tended my gallery of one hundred-thirty changing pictures...'
SciFiQ Science Fiction Writing Aid
'Books were just a commodity that had to be produced, like jam or bootlaces.'
Robot Only Faster, Not Better, At Recycling
'Whenever a robot finds something it can't identify straight off... it puts whatever it is in the hopper outside your window.'
Poland Starts With 1000 Warmate 'Suicide Drones'
'Royal Security had told the pods to electrocute you or blast you into chum.'
Dream Of Building Your Own Rocket?
Fiorello Bodoni, you inspire all of us.
Zero Mass 'Vaporators' Pull Drinking Water From The Air
Did you think of Star Wars?
Elon Musk Fears A 'Fleet-Wide Hack' Of Autonomous Vehicles
'Khan grinned. 'It's alive! Bu-wahhahahah!''
China Melts Tibetan Permafrost To Plant Forest
'Can you give us a microwave spotlight?'
iFlytek Doctor Robot First To Pass Medical Exams
Doctor shortage? No problem, we'll just use the autodoc.
Slaughterbot AI KIller Quadcopter Drones
'The real border was defended by... a swarm of quasi-independent aerostats.'
Do We Really Want Backflipping Robots?
Also includes wonderful blooper reel.
RNA-Based Biocomputing Device
Living things can sense and analyze complex signals in living cells.
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories