Leonard ‘Spock’ Nimoy died last week. I was a huge Star Trek fan – of the original series. This was entirely due to Mr. Spock. No, I didn’t have a crush on him. He was way above that. Spock was more like a hero to me. His intellect completely impressed my teenage self. He set the bar high. His logical thinking and calm approach to crisis solving were just as instructive as were his lack of social skills and inability to feel emotion. I understood that one needed to strike a balance to be truly human.
His very last tweet read:
“A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory.”
He signed off with “LLAP” – a reference to his character’s famous catchphrase, “Live long and prosper”. Don’t you just love that oh so accurate garden reference?!
Mr. Spock was the coolest nerd ever. And Leonard Nimoy was a pretty cool all round human. RIP.
While contemplating the part good science fiction plays in bringing science to the mass as well as inspiring outside-the-box scientific research, I came across three separate efforts to boldly go where no man has gone before. Gives one plenty of food for thought.
For small spaces especially in urban areas but really anywhere one lives it is now possible to have a lush, productive garden. A self-contained eco-system will help grow fresh, organic, healthy food inside the house. It has fish making fertilizer for the plants and plants filtering the water clean for the fish. To top it all, the system improves the air quality. Two graduates from MIT came up with this concept and design and are now marketing for ‘early adopters’ in the Boston area. Check out: https://grovelabs.io/
Given the thrashing that region has taken this winter, having this indoor potager might be just what the Bostonians need in a hurry!
And then there is the case of the Beefalo – a hybrid when bisons were crossbred with cattle. This was an attempt to come up with a hardy, commercial animal but is now the result of a failed hybridizing program. But, they did actually succeed in a bizarre sort of way. Some of these creatures got loose and have created a serious environmental problem in the Grand Canyon.
The animal is super thirsty and consumes about 10 gallons of water each time it lumbers over to a watering hole. This can deplete the water supply rather fast. To make it worse, they pollute the watering holes by defecating right there. Their impressive weight compacts the soil which of course makes it hard for plants to grow. What does grow, the beefalo eats up voraciously. They also take leisurely dust baths. All of which leaves the ground quite utterly bare. They have indeed proved to be hardy.
Meanwhile, other animals indigenous to the area are being pushed out. Insects and rare plants are affected along with the habitat. The ecosystem is thrown out of balance.
I have many opinions on hybridizing programs but I will restrain myself and not make this article my soap box. But if anybody reading this works in such a field of research, please go very, very carefully. Thus far, how have the beefalo, liger, pizzly bear and Africanized bees benefited the earth?
Finally, in a vault inside a mountain on the Arctic archipelago Svalbard, the first consignment of forest tree species seeds have been accepted. This is the Svalbard ‘doomsday’ vault created for protecting global food crop seeds. The tree seeds were those of the Norway spruce and Scots pine both very important economically, ecologically and socially. Researchers hope the tree seed samples will help monitor long-term genetic changes in natural forests.
The vault is designed to withstand all natural and human disasters. The purpose of the depository, owned by the Norwegian government and maintained by the Global Crop Diversity Trust (GCDT) and the Nordic Genetic Resources Center, is to store duplicates of all seed samples from crop collections around the world.
So while we grapple with the influences and damages caused by climate change, forest management, fragmentation of populations, new pests and diseases, preserving these tree seeds along with numerous other seeds of life supporting plants will give us a fighting chance to ensure that future generations can be sustained on this beautiful earth of ours.
This bit of knowledge gives me some peace of mind. As all sorts of research proceeds in the far corners of the world for diverse reasons, lets hope we keep in mind that the world itself is a vast sacred garden. Let it live long and prosper. Please.
Here are some images of the eco-system in my corner of the planet:
(c)2015 Shobha Vanchiswar