Sunday, December 4, 2011

Run around in the radiation, Run around in the acid rain

Mailbox, flooded
In the wake of our scholarly coverage of melanin and vertebrate photosynthesis, the Riddled mailbag has been flooded with letters about melanistic fungi that photosynthesise with gamma rays.* This is not as bad as a literal flood of the mailbox (which only happened once, that time we foolishly did business with the Mail-Order Goldfish of the Month Club) but it is still not a desirable situation. Some replies are in order.

First of all, if a mold (Cryptococcus neoformans) that has adapted to an environment with a high γ-ray flux shows more metabolic activity than a non-adapted mold when exposed to radiation, this could mean that it is using its protective melanin granules to obtain useful energy from the Compton-scattered γ photons, but it could also mean that it is better-adapted to that environment. Another study in the same feckin' paper found that the same mold's growth was also encouraged by ultraviolet, visible and infrared wavelengths. No-one could possibly have predicted that warmth would encourage metabolism.

No, Mr Gruntfuttock of Hoxton, here in the Riddled Research Laboratory we do not think that the presence of C. neoformans as an opportunistic lung infection in immunocompromised patients is a sign of evolution towards a new human species that can thrive in the fallout of the post-apocalyptic future. It sounds like a plot device for a J. G. Ballard story. You could try selling the idea to Zombie Ballard, except he has been stealing my Dildo Akvavit again and is currently passed out in the staffroom freezer, covered by the frozen peas and the tray of chops that AK won in last Wednesday's meat raffle at the Old Entomologist.

Nor can we encourage correspondent C. B. Throdwalloper's cunning scheme of growing a symbiotic spacesuit, based on genetic-engineered fungus mycelia, that can wrap around human explorers in hostile environments and protect them from the radiation flux while using the energy to provide the user with oxygen and temperature control. Such suits hybridise with alien life-forms and tear themselves away, leaving the owner to perish miserably. This always happens. It must be a tradition or an old charter or something.

This picture is in fact a still from our cinematic adaption of Philip Dick's Eye in the Sky. E-for-brick is a bistable melanin superconducting switch modeled on one in the Smithsonian. I forget how the monks come into the story (AK wrote that part of the script) but they are certainly not wearing protective fungusuits which they are recharging with the sun's eye-beams so rest assured that no intellectual property has been stolen.

Notice how I have woven in some plot devices from The Third Policeman on account of the similarities between that story and Eye in the Sky. In the foreground, Policeman MacCruiskeen is explaining how it all works by Omnium.

* A single flawed study, hyped energetically by people who cannot always tell the difference between γ- and β-rays.

16 comments:

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

I forget how the monks come into the story (AK wrote that part of the script)

Are those felonious monks, here to pick the sun's pocket?
~

tigris said...

Obviously members of the Albertian Order of Leibowitz.

wiley said...

Wow. That guy has some big biological dreams. All I want is a velcro suit and a computer that knows where everything in my house is so I don't have to spend so much time looking for stuff. And a house that flushes, but that's already been done.

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

You could try selling the idea to Zombie Ballard, except he has been stealing my Dildo Akvavit again and is currently passed out in the staffroom freezer

He was researching his upcoming novel, The Drunken World.

Substance McGravitas said...

Another study in the same feckin' paper found that the same mold's growth was also encouraged by ultraviolet, visible and infrared wavelengths.

I get happy when I eat chocolate and ice-cream so nobody gives me milkshakes any more because of the orgasms.

El Manquécito said...

In the set of "excuses", [because of the orgasms] is remarkably robust.

vacuumslayer said...

I get happy when I eat chocolate and ice-cream so nobody gives me milkshakes any more because of the orgasms.


THE MAN HAS A SWEET TOOTH, OK?!!!!

But...I'm sorry, if a guy orgasmed from the food I gave him, I'd just be flattered and call it a night.

Smut Clyde said...

In the set of "excuses",

"[IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE PROPHECY]" always works for me.

Smut Clyde said...

And a house that flushes

With embarrassment? With paroxysmic delight? Inquiring minds are inquiring.

El Manquécito said...

With embarrassment? With paroxysmic delight?

With a one-eyed jack?

Smut Clyde said...

Jokes about "Flushing with the one-eyed jack" should go back to Sadly,No where they belong.

wiley said...

It flushes with water, sillies. It was designed by a woman architect who didn't want to dust and wash the walls. Just flush and all that allergenic and unsightly stuff just washes away in a fine film of wa-wa.

Smut Clyde said...

Is that the one in Portland?

wiley said...

Houston.

Smut Clyde said...

I only heard of this one.

wiley said...

that might be her. i just heard this from someone else in one of those art school conversations where we liked to talk about women doing everything in their power to save time (usually on domestic demands) so we could spend more time in the studio probably one or both of us heard or remembered wrong. I had pictured one of them city slicker wimmin architects