Thursday, July 12, 2007


I once read a science fiction about the not-too far future. Our planet's flora became fed up with mankind, and decided to strike back. It began with plumbing problems - tree's roots destroying pipes, went on to grass breaking through the pavement and ivy growing over houses. I have to think about this each time when I see a tree causing cracks in a walkway, or grass growing in every possible and impossible place.


    The hydration pressure between lipid bilayers

    They measured 3.9x10^9 dyne/cm^2. Hydrating a lipid bilayer gets you
    56,500 pounds/in^2. Cell membranes are potential terrorist weapons - Arthur C. Clarke's osmotic bomb! If you love your country, report all osmosis to Homeland Severity.

  2. Dear Bee,

    yeah, the push of growing plants is truely fascinating.

    Ivy even can "tunnel barriers", as I can see at my parents house, where it emerges at places where you don't have an idea how it gets there...

    BTW, did you see this article in SciAm?

    Best, stefan

  3. Seems to be a theme today.

    My landscape maintenance guy told me a story. He got a call from a property manager. The guy had a problem with a parking lot. There was this one spot on the lot, an area a few dozen feet square, where this crabgrass kept coming up through the cracks in the pavement. The guy tried everything - slurry coat, Roundup®, slurry coat again - and no matter what he tried, he couldn't get rid of it. Sometimes he thought he had it licked: the damn stuff would lay low for awhile - but then, a few weeks or months later, it would come up again. And it was only in that one spot; the rest of the lot was fine. Couldn't figure it out.

  4. Hi Stefan,

    Thanks! No, I didn't see that story, this is interesting. I think though the timeline he envisions depends strongly on the local circumstances. E.g. I am perfectly sure German highways will last significantly longer than US highways (just believe me, I have seen how they are build. they come in 7 layers and go at least 3 meters deep). There are also huge differences to how and where houses are built.

    What scares me the most when I think about such scenarios is that it is very obvious how useless the information storage is that we have today. A CD or your iPod sounds like a great invention, but it doesn't last forever, and - more importantly - it is completely useless without a device to read it. A book at least you can just open - provided that you can read, you can access the information (restrictions apply). If there is any decline in technological achievements, it can become an irreversible problem, because a large amount of information becomes unavailable with it. Best,


  5. Hi Arun... the only thing that comes in my mind in this regard is 'bad weeds grow tall' As with most sayings, there is undeniable truth in it. Though it might be a circular definition: the bad weeds are those that grow tall. :-)
    - B.

  6. Hi Bee,

    As a boy I once canoed to an island in a huge man-made reservoir in southern Virginia -- the last place left after the surrounding countryside was flooded. There were houses completely covered with vines, and the remains of a two-lane highway, broken up by a jungle of young trees sprouting through the asphalt. They were flourishing in the sunlight there, the only break in the canopy of large trees.

    It seemed the last remnants of human habitation would be gone soon, and it reminded me of a science fiction story about Earth after WW III. Civilization was gone, but people still traveled the old roads, not knowing who built them. In this case, the old highway was the one way you couldn't go!

  7. Hi Bee,

    I thought that we H. Sapiens were catagorized as fauna?

    I have been asking myself if the genetic material for chloroplasts of flora transformed into the eye photoreceptors of fauna?
    I am unsure if I will ever know the answer.

    I am just as concerned about Protista, Fungi and Monera not to mention Archea, Bacteria, Viruses amd Prions.

    and Hi Stefan.

    Thanks for verifying the status of Ceres.

    The JULY 2007 Scientific American has other interesting articles on
    1 - The Memory Code ["closing in on the rules that the brain uses to lay down memories"]
    2 - A Malignant Flame ["Understanding chronic inflammation"]

    JUME 2007 Scientific American hss
    1 - A Simpler Origin for Life ["Energy-driven networks of small molecules may be more likely"]
    2 - When Fields Collide ["history of particle cosmology shows that science can benefit from wrenching changes"]
    3 - Seeing Triple ["finally displaying real objects in three true dimensions"]
    4 - Breaking Network Logjams ["Network coding could dramatically enhance the efficiency"]

  8. lol Bee,
    it's bad when one can't even rely on gravity to prevent cracks appearing on the ground - from things 'forcing' their way up (or is it out).

    Mind you most living things are drawn to the sun, even when below the ground (or the deep blue sea).

  9. Hi Doug, thanks for mentioning that mistake. What I was actually looking for was a translation of the German word Grünzeug, but I guess flora will do :-)



  10. Yeah, and with more CO2 in the air the plants will become even more persistent. ;-) Of course, that's mostly a good thing.

    Probably my biggest worry for the future of mankind isn't any kind of climate changes but the possibility of some huge electromagnetic pulse from the Sun or elsewhere wiping out all our electronics. Makes me want to hang onto my old vinyl albums and books even more. ;-)

  11. Also I think that the longevity of plastics is overestimated in general. Anyone who has seen many old cars (30+ years old) has seen that the plastics are one of the first things to deteriorate when exposed to the elements (weather, etc.). But I guess the life expectacy depends on the kinds of plastic.

  12. Hi all,

    As I understand, the force breaking concrete is a hydraulic pressure created by osmosis.

    As as touch ie. matter to matter interaction is mediated by EM-force (when an object is touched, you interact with the outer boundaries of the electron clouds of the atoms in that object)
    then this "osmosis machine" and thermodynamic machines likewise, are fundamentally electro-magnetic machines.

    The energy needed for the plant to break through the layer of concrete or asphalt is (I guess)stored as carbon-hydrates within the grain if seed. its capabilities are therefore limited.

    When burried, the seed only lives on a very limited amount of fuel.



  13. Or could it be..,

    The plant finds osmosis-potentials in the surrounding soil, then activates them and directs them to its own advance?


  14. "If there is any decline in technological achievements, it can become an irreversible problem, because a large amount of information becomes unavailable with it. Best"

    So the information is not lost, just becomes unavailable. Oh dear imagine a world where we could not access the music & films on dvd ...

    Mind you how many life times does one need to listen to every record and film ever made or every book written (in english never mind all the other languages) - and that's before LHC starts adding more data

    I remember when video tape first came out, I avidly recorded program after program and show after show - I never had time to watch, and simply recorded over.

    Like surveillance tv & tape.
    But I guess life and the universe is like that, everchanging - sure we can trackback and speculate and deduce what might have been 13.7 billion years ago, but where did yesterday GO
    Can I have it back or is it gone for good, curled up into another dimension in warped space.

    It would be nice if we could rewind to the first time ...
    yeah you know the first time we felt good doing this or that, and replay the moment endlessly.
    But hold on isn;t that what we try to do whenever we eat or light-up another cigarrette, or you know ...

    discover something new or novel

    well most of what the youth of any age find novel is old sock to the youth of a previous age
    But Life Goes On, The Thrill of It All

  15. hi, i'll be happy to show you my cracks also in glass of barcelona. visit my blog, you'll be my special guest!

    a precious image!


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