Geeking Science: Self-burying seeds

Image from the Carnegie Mellon University

Humans have been sowing seeds for generations; sometimes digging holes with fingers, dropping the seeds in, and burying them in the dirt, and other times following the more traditional method of plants themselves – scattering them in the wind and hoping for the best. One is labor intensive and the other is just a play against statistics, praying to the capacious weather gods that the birds and weather will be on our side.

But what happens when you absolutely must plant things in hard to reach areas, for example, reforesting an area after a fire? Today’s drones answer half the equation with accessibility – flying easily to places that could take hours and remarkable physical danger – but that doesn’t get the seeds planted.

Wouldn’t it be nice if seeds could plant themselves?

Scientists recently stole an idea from seeds and upgraded it. Erodium have a stalk that taps into different moisture reactions to create a screw action for burying its seeds. It works okay – the plant exists in nature after all, but the natural best results depends on uneven soil with crevices because up-and-down for the one tail seed changes with each flip until the bury is successful. Once buried, the one-way directional hairs keeps the seed from popping back out and the stalk continues to wind and bury the seed deeper.

To upgrade the design, engineers at Carnegie Mellon University found that three coiled tails create nearly a 80% success rate. In a world with birds, rain washes, and rocky soil, this is amazing.

The device is made from biodegradable wood. And the carrier area can hold pine and other tree seeds, or crop seed. Plus it can been used to deploy and bury “nematodes (worms used as natural pesticides), fertilizers, and fungi.” (Spice) Other real-world applications outside of farming is reducing landslides by increasing deep-root vegetation and using the corkscrews “to implant sensors for environmental monitoring.” (Spice)

The inventors are still working on how to create and deliver these carriers at scale needed for farming crops and reforestation, but the device itself works great.

Two important questions for any invention – 1) can it be done and 2) how do we make enough for the invention to be useful. We have the “yes” for the first, now we need to Geek the Science on the second.

Bibliography

Nature video. “This device corkscrews itself into the ground like a seed.” YouTube. February 2023. (video imbedded above)

Science Friday. “A New Twist on Sowing Seeds.” 24 February 2023. (https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/corkscrew-seed-self-planting/ – last viewed 11/10/2023)

Spice, Byron. “Engineered Magic: Wooden Seed Carriers Mimic the Behavior of Self-Burying Seeds.” Carnegie Mellon University. 15 February 2023. (https://news.pantheon.cmu.edu/stories/archives/2023/february/engineered-magic-wooden-seed-carriers-mimic-the-behavior-of-self-burying-seeds – last viewed 11/10/2023)

Theresa, Deena. “This bioinspired seed carrier has a 80 percent success rate.” Interesting Engineering. 15 February 2023. (https://interestingengineering.com/innovation/bioinspired-seed-carrier – last viewed 11/10/2023)

Williams, Mary. “Inspired by nature: Self-burying seeds.” Plant Science Research Weekly. 24 February 2023. (https://plantae.org/inspired-by-nature-self-burying-seeds/#:~:text=Burrowing%20underground%20gives%20the%20seed%20protection%20from%20being,is%20hygromorphism%20%E2%80%93%20movement%20in%20response%20to%20water. – last viewed 11/10/2023)

Book Review (SERIES): Vision Rising

Amazon Cover

Vision Rising is a great military science fiction series which never forgets (1) it is military and (2) it is science fiction. The author finishes each book with real-science tidbits which inspired the science fiction aspects, similar to my Geeking Science. In fact, I may be using some of the shares from Vision Rising for upcoming Geeking Science. I just love science fiction rooted deeply in science – and the fact that you don’t need to care about hard-science at all to enjoy this series makes it all the better.

Action AND relation-packed science fiction, and by relation-packed, look for military buddies, political intrigue, and enemies-to-allies.

The Vision Rising Series (note: the series is available as a book set for a VERY reduced price at the time of writing this review – link here: https://www.amazon.com/Vision-Rising-Complete-Military-Sci-Fi-ebook/dp/B0CNV7BLS2/)

by L.L. Richman

  1. Vision Rising
  2. Vision’s Gambit
  3. Vision’s Pawn

Amazon Cover

BOOK BLURB ON AMAZON for VISION RISING

A lone soldier is gifted the power to save humanity.

When a training exercise at a classified research facility goes awry, Joe Kovacs loses much more than his eyesight. He loses his career. He can’t lead one of the military’s top spec-ops teams if he can’t see.

A decision with consequences.

Joe’s only shot at getting his life back lies in the hands of an anonymous ‘shadow’ scientist. The offer is risky, an experimental implant that may or may not work. He jumps at the chance, but quickly learns the device does more than restore his sight. Much more.

There’s no going back.

Joe begins seeing strange flashes. Ghosts of images, overlaid atop his own vision. Actions he could have taken but didn’t. Worse, the visions are increasing in scope and frequency. Believing he’s going mad, he confronts the scientist, only to discover the implant’s shocking origin.

Nothing is as it seems, and all the possible futures Joe can now see point to a system-wide conspiracy that will shift the balance of power for hundreds of years. Joe’s visions hold the key to stopping it… if he can learn to control them in time.

Don’t miss this exciting new Military Science Fiction Series that will make you not only question just what it means to be human, but also if there is ever a “right” side. It’s perfect for fans of Halo, Rick Partlow (Drop Trooper), Jeffery H. Haskell (Grimm’s War), and Joshua Dalzelle (Black Fleet Saga).

MY REVIEW for VISION RISING

A nice solid military sci-fi, though women characters are a little lacking. Most of the women are adjuncts – none have been shown to be in high leadership positions in the military outside of the doctor and tech lines. Is it sad to like the fact at least they aren’t there just as decoration and military man rewards? These women at least have jobs and are admired for their competence and brains, instead of bra size. A pleasant change from the normal in military science fiction.

Lots of cool tech ideas, but not presented just as tech, weapon, or ship “porn”. The author, L.L. Richman, never lingers over anything – no page on page description – but everything is helpful and makes sense within the story. EVEN BETTER – the end of the book has an appendix of what technologies are real, what is being developed, and what are theories still being tested – raising this book from general science fiction with hand-wave-ium of “it’s science and it works” to full out Hard Science Fiction – only it is the softest hard science fiction I ever read. Accessible, action-packed, and wonderous. Not “fun” as in funny, and, as solders, these are not snuggle bunnys round in military romances.

I know, I did a lot of what this book is not. Let me close with what the book is – a good military science fiction that never forgets it is (1) MILITARY fiction and (2) SCIENCE fiction.

Amazon Cover

BOOK BLURB ON AMAZON for VISION’S GAMBIT

Sometimes great power requires greater sacrifice

Joe Kovacs isn’t your average special forces warrior. There’s an alien artifact embedded in his skull that allows him to predict the future. It’s served him well so far, uncovering a conspiracy that would have shifted the balance of power in the Sol system for years to come.

Now the artifact is warning of a greater peril. Devastation on a galactic scale.

One man holds the key to stopping it.

Of all the possible futures Joe can see, there is only one path to victory… and it’s the vision least likely to come true.

Joe will have to pull off the impossible — divert the path of time itself — if humanity is to survive.

MY REVIEW for VISION’S GAMBIT

Vision’s Gambit is the second of a military science fiction story with multiple point of views, which works as a stand-alone. The first of the series is great, so you don’t want to miss it, but if you wind up with the second of the trilogy in your hands, you can start there.  Whether you want team tactics, political maneuvers, pew-pew space battle, deep embedded spies, or a very, very light touch of sweet romance, this book has you covered.

To recover from blindness, an alien artifact got embedded in Joe’s head during the first book, but physical vision is the least of its gifts. It provides him visions of the future, from the most-likely blue-shifts to the least-likely red-shifts. His most recent vision shows an ongoing future for humanity … in the deepest red he had ever seen. All other futures from vivid blue to light pink, humanity ends, never to breathe oxygen again. How will he switch the impossible red to a real blue before the future catches up with them all?

At least he isn’t in it alone. He has his team – from the special forces he is a part of, to high level political leadership, from coast guard to space navy to research & development, from allies to enemies. Shifting the river of time to a different bed won’t be easy, but the tip of a spear has the entire weapon flying behind it. All he had to do is get the tip aimed right, midflight. Hoo-ah!

Amazon Cover

BOOK BLURB ON AMAZON for VISION’S PAWN

Unintended Consequences

Humanity has just dodged an extinction level event, but at great cost. The battle that defeated the Starkillers took the lives of far too many, and the experimental tech enabling interstellar travel carries a death sentence all its own.

Worse, the alien implant inside Joe Kovacs’s skull isn’t playing nice. Joe no longer sees possible futures. Instead, he’s plagued with hallucinations — visions of dead people.

Dealing with this will have to wait, though, as he has a bigger problem.

Intelligence has translated the string of alien characters transmitted by the implant. The coordinates lead to a dead star rumored to hold an ancient repository.

What Joe finds inside will change the course of humanity forever.

MY REVIEW for VISION’S PAWN

Third and final book of the Vision Rising series. You should read book 2 before reading book 3 for best results.

The aliens weren’t completely eliminated and they are rebuilding. Joe has to tap his visions again to find out more about the species who left behind the artifact providing Joe his abilities. The problem is, the more they discover about their benefactors, the more questions get raised on why they really left the legacy which saved humanity.

As with the other books, the mix of science fiction and special forces military and R&D division work well. Richman works in interesting hard-science tools to create toys for the special ops guys and gals to play with.

I was more annoyed in this book with Joe’s and Ana’s interactions. He verbally goes off several times and never apologizes and is just grateful she understands and lets him do his own thing. I would have liked to see interaction to resolve the issues beyond silent acceptance. The author did take a moment to deal with other trauma aspects; it would have been nice to have the trauma aspects which spouses of soldiers had to address tackled head on instead of the typical female martyr acceptance. Well, everything can’t be perfect.

Great story and great action and great science fiction toys.

Flash: Say I love you

Photo 197380210 | Pollen © Wolverine6 | Dreamstime.com (paid for – please go to Dreamstime and pay the artist to reuse)

“Hey man, how ya doing?”

Paulie’s head snapped up from where he was putting away his mower. “Doug? What are you doing here?”

“Just stopping by to say ‘Hey’ and tell you I love ya man.” Doug hopped the short knee-high brick wall used to keep back the street debris, landing on the lawn. “We never say that enough, you know?”

“Yeah,” a confused look crinkled Paulie’s sun-wrinkled forty-something face, “sure.”

“Yeah, you never know when it is going to be the last time, so I thought I should say it. Been a while.” His high school best friend resettled the flannel shirt over his Mariners shirt as he walked across the freshly mowed grass. “Not even a call.”

Paul nodded. “Like a year, funny how it slips by.” He ran memories back, confirming a year. They had exchanged jokes about Doug digging things out on the West Coast mountains while he had to mow the lawn for the second time at the Carolina shore.

“Yeah, the girl graduates this year and her brother pulled honors freshman year.” The bear of a man reached his arms out, “Come on give me a hug. I’ve missed you bro.”

Paulie did as requested, leaning forward and preparing to be squeezed half-to-death, and stuttered-stepped through his friend.

“Ha! Gotcha good, didn’t I? Love you man.” Doug’s edges faded as he did finger guns when Paulie spun around. The image of the flannel and denim swirled like pollen on a car getting up to speed,. “Keep it real.” And the next moment he was gone.

“What, NO!” Paulie yanked out his phone and spun through his contact until he found Doug’s number and hit the call icon. “Come on, come on. Answer!”

(words 288, first published 6/16/2024)

Editing Rant: For Want of a Body

Illustration 6672404 © Gheburaseye | Dreamstime.com

It was as if her body wanted him. Not just (the female character’s name), but her body.

Why is her BODY more important than her name, her being? (pinch nose)

The author is trying to be romantic, to say (the action of sex) of his male MC with his love interest went deeper and connected to him more than anything else. This is a known toxic male trait – they have been so starved for any connection – physical, mental, and emotional that body touch is assumed to be this an amazing be-all end-all connection.

When writing, remember Name and the Person is more important than the Body.