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 |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 2 )

Related News Stories - (" Food ")

Electronic Tongues Will Rule The Kitchen
'Install taste buds in the end of one tentacle...' - Anthony Boucher, 1943

Mass Production Of In Vitro Meat From One Sample
They're Assimilating Our Culture, That's What They're Doing

Mealworms Food Of The Future
Get your grubs on.

Self-Driving Domino's Pizza Car
Yes, but can it negotiate entry at your Burbclave?

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Las Vegas Humans Ready To Strike Over Robots
'A worker replaced by a nubot... had to be compensated.'

You'll Regrow That Limb, One Day
'... forcing the energy transfer which allowed him to regrow his lost fingers.'

Elon Musk Seeks To Create 1941 Heinlein Speedster
'The car surged and lifted, clearing its top by a negligible margin.'

Somnox Sleep Robot - Your Sleepytime Cuddlebot
Science fiction authors are serious about sleep, too.

Real-Life Macau or Ghost In The Shell
Art imitates life imitates art.

Has Climate Change Already Been Solved By Aliens?
'I had explained," said Nessus, "that our civilisation was dying in its own waste heat.'

First 3D Printed Human Corneas From Stem Cells
Just what we need! Lots of spare parts.

VirtualHome: Teaching Robots To Do Chores Around The House
'Just what did I want Flexible Frank to do? - any work a human being does around a house.'

Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence (METI) Workshop
SF writers have thought about this since the 19th century.

Nanorobots Roam Your Bloodstream, Cleaning It
Too bad they won't have lasers, though...

Galini 3D Printed Sleeping Pod Tiny Houses
'The houses are prefabricated units...'

MIT Boffins Create Psychopath AI On Purpose
There's a lesson in this for neural net AI engineers everywhere.

Skin Electronics 3D Printed
'June's body is a tracery of lambent lines, like some arcane capillary circuitry...'

Artificial Sensory Neurons For Prosthetics, Robots
Great for humans and robots!

China Uses Artificial Intelligence To Grade Student Papers
Looks like the City Fathers are starting to take over China's education system.

Electronic Tongues Will Rule The Kitchen
'Install taste buds in the end of one tentacle...'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.