Real Freaky Science to Inspire

Real life science often serves as an inspiration for some of the most out-there stories, and it definitely influences the fiction I come up with. This week I thought to share five examples of the freaky, wild, wonderful things that science has revealed which inspire me.

5. Black Holes

video
Video courtesy NASA

Black holes are some of the strangest, scariest, most awesome things in the universe. Once, only theoretical, we now have observed black holes through telescopes (or more accurately, the accretion discs around them) and have a working understanding of how they function largely due to Stephen Hawking.

4. Exoplanets

video
Video Courtesy NASA

The more we discover, the weirder we realize the universe around us is. I'm thrilled by the prospect of what, and who, we'll find one day.

3. Chemotrophs and Deep Ocean Vents

Photo © P. Rona
Courtesy NOAA via Wikipedia Commons




Deep ocean vents are spouts of volcanic activity on the ocean floor where chemotrophs—creatures that use the heat and chemical reactions to make energy (as opposed to relying on sunlight like plants do)—gather and thrive. The discovery of ecosystems independent of sunlight fired the imaginations of astrobiologists (and authors). Their existence means that we might find life on planets we would have considered either hostile, or lethal, to life as we knew it before.








2. Strange Plants and  Animals

There are many living things on planet Earth which almost seem to defy the normal rules of biology. They can be some of the most inspiring things for me to get writing ideas from—particularly for alien species or cool genetic modifications for my protagonists. Among my favorites are things like predatory plants, most famously the Venus Flytrap, but also Drosera capensis (Cape Sundew)—a South African plant that actually grabs its prey in a sticky leaves.

Drosera capensis Photo © Noah Elhardt
Via Wikipedia Commons
Among the coolest animals on earth is the sea slug Elysia chlorotica from New England and Canada. Why is it so cool? Because this animal is a natural genetic engineer, stealing the genes to make chloroplasts (the photosynthetic part of plants and algae) from the algae it eats and incorporating them into its own genome to produce its own chloroplasts.

Elysia chlorotica
Photo © EOL Learning Education Group
Via Wikipedia Commons
If creatures like this exist on this planet, imagine what we may one day find out among the stars?


1. Cordyceps

One of the freakiest things on planet earth, this genus of fungus invades its host, quite literally taking over its mind, forcing it to move to a place where conditions are ideal for the fungus, before replacing its internal tissues with its own.

Photo © Erich G. Vallery, USDA Forest Service - SRS-4552, Bugwood.org
Via Wikipedia Commons


Who knew zombification was real? I've had a great deal of scary fun dreaming up what such a fungi could do if it could invade something, like, say, a human...

For more on Cordyceps, and the utterly freaky and frightening things it can do, check out this clip from the BBC's Planet Earth.

Comments

  1. Wow, some of the creatures on our own planet are freaky enough. Imagine what we'd find on another planet. Great post!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you, glad you enjoyed it!
    Nature never ceases to amaze, does it?

    ReplyDelete

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