Over at The Last Word on Nothing, esteemed science writer Rebecca Boyle wrote a lovely appreciation of trees. “Apart from humans, maybe, trees are the best form of life on this planet,” she writes. From Boyle’s essay, titled “Make Like A Tree and Get Outta Here“:
Trees remain in one place, but reach elsewhere always. They stretch down into the ground, and they constantly strain toward the sun. They are the embodiment of our shared presence on a rocky planet that orbits a star. Hedgehogs and helminths may be interesting, but they don’t constantly remind us, simply by existing, that we are in a solar system.
Trees are also hosts for every other form of life. Their roots chew up the very crust, a process aided by microbes, and in doing so, trees remake continents. Their bark harbors fungus and lichen. Their branches and leaves shelter and feed insects, birds and mammals. Even now, when humans are capable of building machines that fly to Mars, we still use trees for shelter. We also cut them down and burn them for warmth. Some of us cut them down and bring them inside and festoon them, for a form of psychic warmth that lasts a few weeks and is the only reason I can tolerate December.
Trees are strivers. My pin oak is one of the fastest-growing species of hardwood trees, according to the Arbor Day Foundation. It can grow two feet per year. Trees also bide their time. The oldest living thing on Earth is a tree in Arizona, a bristlecone pine that sprouted from a seed a few years before the invention of writing, in 3200 BCE.
There are 50 hospitals on 5 continents that use Watson for Oncology, an IBM product that charges doctors to ingest their cancer patients’ records and then make treatment recommendations and suggest journal articles for further reading.
A fantastic behind-the-scenes clip from Blue Planet II: The Blue Planet II team dive to over 700 meters to see what happens to a whale carcass on the seabed. Whilst filming sharks as they feast, the sharks start to take a worrying interest in the submarine!
Acorn woodpeckers create acorn granaries that hold tens of thousands of acorns. Scientists are especially interested in their living arrangements, once described by Cold War ornithologists as communism.
Believe it or not, the holiday season is just about here, and to help ease your gifting anxiety, we’ve selected some of our favorite tech products from the Boing Boing Store. And to sweeten the deal, you can take an extra 15% off any of these items when you use coupon code GIFTSHOP15 at checkout. […]
The Treblab X11 Bluetooth In-Ear Headphones deliver superior sound and wireless performance. They’re typically available in the store for $41.99 (reduced from $199.99 MSRP), but today you can get them for $36.99 as part of our Doorbusters week. As to be expected from any high-end pair of earbuds, these include a built-in mic for taking […]
You can definitely increase the breadth of your vocabulary over time by reading constantly, and you’ll probably even get a bit faster if you do it long enough. But there’s a more streamlined way to become a better reader: Vocab1 and 7 Speed Reading EX. These two apps can vastly improve your abilities without sacrificing […]