NASA is trying to grow potatoes on Mars. According to a Wall Street Journal article, scientists are trying to find a potato that will grow at cold and low-pressure conditions, and is also good for food. Of course, they can't grow in the open air on Mars:
the temperature averages minus 84 degrees Fahrenheit, with lows of minus 284 degrees, according to NASA. It has high levels of radiation and over 60% less gravity than Earth. Its atmosphere has 96% carbon dioxide, with only a tiny amount of oxygen. Then there are the dust storms and salty water.Still, to test the soil conditions, scientists are planting crops in soil from the Pampas de La Joya Desert in southern Peru. If the tests are successful, then a simulator will be made that mimics the conditions the plants would endure in a dome on Mars.
When I first read this headline: Wolverines Are Now Being Trained to Find Avalanche Survivors, I thought it was some sort of Marvel Comics promotion. D'oh. No, it's an actual effort to use wolverines, the actual animals, to hunt for people in avalanches. Wolverines are small, smart, and work well in the snow. The trick is getting the wolverines to imprint on humans soon after birth, as well as breeding them in captivity.
My friend Michael Sensei went spelunking and took some photos and video of Yugen Cave. Makes me want to head up to Bellingham and visit that cave I went to with friends once.
Children have been doodling all throughout time. I love these scraps of art by a 7-year-old boy named Onfim living in 13th century Novgorod, Russia.
Optical illusions are not universal, which was a surprise to me. There's a couple of examples of how people perceive illusions differently in the article. Be sure to read the comments, lots of insight and some corrections there.
This documentary sounds fantastic. I wish I lived near enough to an IMAX theater to go see it.
George R. R. Martin has an epic response to a writer who thinks, for some bizarre reason, that because Martin once purchased a story from him that Martin must therefore love everything that writer has ever written. The reasoning is so twisted and wrong it hardly bears giving any thought to, but Martin calmly and completely demolishes it and the writer (who, incidentally called Martin a liar, to boot). Nicely done, Martin.
Spacefaring, Extradimensional Happy Kittens has a round-up of people's responses to being included on this year's rabid puppies slate. Many asked to be removed and were not. Some support the rabids. Because this year the rabids included "human shields" in their slate, the overall situation is much more complicated than last year, in which a near-total rejection of the slate was reasonable, as very few of the nominations were Hugo-worthy. This year the rabids included works that would certainly have made it to the final ballot... but other good works were still kicked off. Voters are going to have to decide if it's more important to them to punish the slate or more important that a good work get the Hugo. It will not be an easy choice.
One last Hugo rant after the fold. Feel free to skip it.