Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 22

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 22

…“Where do we start Miss Caraway?…

Martin Kamen finds out that Willard was in regular communication with Vatican City, among others. What is the connection between the theory of evolution and radiocarbon dating? He chimes in with his nuggets:

  • Pope Pius XII wanted Willard to come out against the growing scientific leanings in favor of the theory of evolution.
  • Willard lives in Olympia Fields. Tolentine is a monastery of Friars on the edge of that sleepy Illinois village.
  • Billy Graham is an evangelist and crusader who has a degree in anthropology of all things.
  • McGraw-Hill is the unrivalled publisher of textbooks in the US and has a vested interest in all things taught.
  • The United Nations sent Willard a cable concerning some mystery group that had gotten their attention; must have been serious enough for them to exhibit care about an organization that has spread its wings around the globe.

“When this is all over and we have untangled this briar patch, well in this case ‘friar-patch’, you should come back to Florida with us. I like the way you think.” Constance picks up on the growing connection between those seemingly stray Libby contacts and Martin’s investigative talents. He would be a welcomed addition to CCI.

“Not only that, Libby had called the FBI before they called him! What would a scientist have to do with government types, especially the spy kind? He must have sensed trouble,” adds Fanny.

“It looks like the entire planet was taking notice of his work.” In most instances that is the point of scientific research. Martin’s sense of security is waning.

“And yet you are as clean as a whistle and without a scratch on that pretty-boy face.”

“… At least for now. And so is Sam Ruben, a vital colleague of hours, part of the precious few, so-to-speak. I spoke with him the day before last and he too is getting spooked.” He speaks of their carbon-collaborator from University of California-Berkeley.

“And we know that we’re not dealing with a jealous husband or wacko lady friend,” Fanny notes, removing the love triangle aspect from the fray. Human emotion is generally the spark that ignites the fuel for the private investigatory engine.

Where do we start Miss Caraway? There are a dozen angles to consider here.”


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 21

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 15

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 15

“Mastadon is misspelled,” Fanny seldom lets on that she is a great speller…

“We are looking for your friend and colleague who left the grounds undetected.”

“Not exactly true,” Kamen had to completely vet Constance and Fanny, before allowing them to view secret government material. “He had been using the IBM Supercomputer to research ancient animals, specifically from the Ice Age.”

“You mean like why men behave like Neanderthals.” Fanny rarely lets her science knowledge bleed into casual conversation.

“No, there was a picture of a Mastodon on his desk,” Martin hands them a lithograph with the handwritten word, all in lower case scribble: mastadon.

“Mastadon is misspelled,” Fanny seldom lets on that she is a great speller.

“You are correct Miss Fanny! Why didn’t I notice that?! It’s mastodon with an “o” not “a”.”

The power of observation, an acquired talent, is what makes Constance and Fanny perfect for the field they have chosen.

“Willard would not have made that mistake,” he contends.

“That’s a pretty weak clue, but any clue sure beats a handful of nothing.” Constance racks her brain for their next possible move.

“There is one more thing.” Martin Kamen fires up the small monitor in front of them, the view screen for the supercomputer which occupies a room the size of the Argonne cafeteria. “There are remnants of a de-crypted memorandum from the Pope:

 HUMANI GENERIS

(Concerning Some False Opinions Threatening to Undermine the Foundations of Catholic Doctrine)

Pope Pius XII

Encyclical Promulgated on 12 August 1950

 

  1. We must resist these fictitious tenets of evolution.

 

“Heady stuff, even for a scientist.”

“Is Mr. Libby a religious man?”

“Not that I know of, but then again religion and science make strange bedfellows.”

“… ‘fictitious tenets of evolution’, that implies that it fundamentally opposes the foundational dogma of Creationism.” Though not an outspoken proponent of all things religious, Constance Caraway has deep roots in the Baptist Church, her father having been an elder at the Tallahassee Baptist Temple; but don’t remind her of the night of her violin solo, at the 6P service on Resurrection Sunday in 1921.


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 15

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 14

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 14

…“You have to understand what the man’s life was like; he did not have one…

Fanny’s simple solution of interviewing everyone at Argonne may have some holes.

“That would seem logical, Miss Renwick, but we have a new, state-of the-art, and panoramic film camera system that records everything… and I mean everything that goes on here.

“I went over the pictures with Security two days before the Carbon-14 Summit was to start and then three days after we suspected that he had gone missing.” People at a Top Secret government facility just don’t walk away unnoticed.

You have to understand what the man’s life was like; he did not have one. He’s been like a bloodhound on the trail of raccoon, obsessed by radiocarbon dating. With little family, no wives or children and a general distaste for conventional forms of entertainment, all he has was his work and the respect that it provides.”

“Too bad security wasn’t this tight back in ’42,” Constance refers to the double-agent case they worked and chronicled in CONSTANCE CARAWAY: SPIES AT WAR. “The Feds were all over Los Alamos, so we mopped up here at Argonne.”

“Wow, I was working on my Masters way back then,” young Martin spouts inoffensively.

“Ouch, thank you for reminding me of my age—-I mean years of experience,” some offense taken.

“That is how I learned about your investigative prowess.” He respects his elders. “I do my homework and you were the one who exposed James East as Victor VonOeste.”

“We got lucky there. Most of the secret selling came from within the nuke program. VonOeste had only acted as if he was double-crossing the Germans, when in fact they were as thick as thieves.” In perhaps her best-ever masquerade, Constance had been inserted into the program as a micro-technician (Fanny was a cleaning woman and not happy about it). That was only thing small about her investigation. “But enough about the past; we are looking for your friend and colleague who left the grounds undetected.”


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 14

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 12

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 12

He hands over the metal briefcase he has been holding on to tightly. It contains $50,000.

By the time they passed La Grange Road, Kamen had loosed his bow-tie and shed his coat. Beads of sweat formed on his forehead just thinking of the Libby ordeal.

“I see that you are upset. Let’s stop and get something to eat… There,” Constance points at the sign of CLANCY’S – a bar and diner. There is a Philips 66 Gas pump out front.

“Clancy’s,” Fanny thinks back fondly to a much earlier time. “Do you remember where we first met, Connie?”

“It was Yancy’s… How do you like this for karma?” she smiles widely.

Clancy’s: Food, Fuel and Fun; now you are talking Carol!” Eddie proclaims with enthusiasm.

Martin gives Constance a crooked look.

She whispers in his right ear, “He knows us as Carolyn and Sara, doesn’t know our real names and he thinks we are visiting a high school chum. We will clue him in only if we have to.”

He gives a “got it, a chum” nod at her. As much as they like Eddie, their level of trust is still set a cool medium.

Once inside, all fed and relaxed, Eddie steals Sara/Fanny away for a game of pool. A married man, all the way to his Polish roots, it has been a long while since he has been this far from home on a real adventure and to be in the company of good looking women… GOLDEN!

With the others in an adjacent recreation room, Martin takes advantage to have Carolyn/Constance off to the side. Up until this very moment, full disclosure financial details had not been finalized. He hands over the metal briefcase he has been holding on to tightly. It contains $50,000.

“Fifty thousand,” he identifies the stacks of Franklins therein, “I want you to know that the university and I are serious about bringing Willard Libby back to us safely and in one piece.”

Her “that will do nicely” nod of approval brings out the richness of her violet eyes, a glint reserved for special occasions.

In his own pragmatic, scientific and vexed state-of-mind, Martin David Kamen goes on to unravel the known threads in the mysterious cloth that has become a Manhattan Mystery, here in the outskirts of greater suburbs of Chicago Illinois.


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 13 (end Ch. 1)

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 11

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 11

…“That would make me 17, I’d like that,” Fanny claims mistakenly…

On the way down U.S Highway Rt. 66, the iconic artery that begins in Chicago and ends in Los Angeles, Martin Kamen fills the girls in on just why he has summoned them 1100 miles north:

“Two weeks ago, a colleague of mine, well, more of a mentor of mine, Dr. Willard Libby disappeared from his office and has not been seen since. He had been acting a bit squirrelly lately, brilliant people often are, but normally you can set your watch by this man.

“He was still on the emotional high from having worked with Enrico Fermi a couple years back. The two of them met with me and Sam Ruben at the University of California-Berkeley to discuss our discovery of and about the carbon-14 isotope. Fermi had this idea that the 14 isotope was unique compared to carbons-12 & -13, based on its presence in all living things and its singular half-life.”

“That would make me 17, I’d like that,” Fanny claims mistakenly.

“No, no. Carbon-14 has a half-life of 5,730 years when factoring in radioactive decay. For example, if someone discovers your remains, say 200 years from now, they will be able to determine how old you were when you expired. Now that won’t be for many, many years I hope, Miss Fanny.

“As I was telling you, Doctor Libby was out our Argonne offices and seemed to be distracted while he was in preparation of his scientific papers concerning this assertion – and then he vanishes without a trace. We were supposed to have a seminar on the topic, between those of us in the know last week, but it had to be canceled. Without Libby what would be the point. We all expected him to address the rumors that he supported the notion that the Universe may be aged 20,000 years, 4.52 billion.”

“That’s what we are taught in science class, Martin.”

“Yes you were, but to extrapolate the half-life of carbon-14 out to inorganic material is a fundamental stretch of the truth, or at least we were coming to find out.”


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 12

Fungus Fun Facts – Mushrooming Our Minds

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Surprising Facts

About Fungi

One of the most immediately surprising facts about fungi may be how to pronounce the word: fun-jai, not fun-guy. But the fun(gi) doesn’t stop there.

From fungal intelligence to saving the world, fungi are full of surprises.

10. They’re the Most Populous Kingdom on the Planet

We don’t know how many species (of any kind, fungal or not) there are on Earth, but recent estimates suggest as many as 8.7 million—6.5 million on the land and 2.2 million in the sea.

Of these, a staggering 5.1 million species—more than half the total—are thought to be fungi, outnumbering plant species by more than 6 to 1. And, according to one of the world’s leading mycologists, Paul Stamets, this ratio may actually be closer to 10:1; certainly around 30% of the soil mass beneath our feet is fungal in nature, both living and dead, representing the “biggest repository of carbon in the world.” In fact, for every meter of tree root, Stamets says, there’s a kilometer of mycelium—the sprawling underground network of branching tubular filaments, or hyphae, that underpin mushroom growth on the surface.

Even if, as some have speculated, the total number of species approaches 1 trillion (1,000,000,000,000), the majority of these are probably microbial fungi. And since many of them thrive on your body, there’s really no escaping. Fungi are everywhere.

9. They’re Ancient, Enormous, and Incredibly Resilient

We know fungi predate humans by millions, even billions, of years and not just by extrapolating to the past. We’ve actually found 90-million-year-old specimens of Cordyceps in amber and fossilized Prototaxites dating back 420 million years. We also know the fungal kingdom has long boasted some of the largest organisms on Earth. That prehistoric Prototaxites, for example, reached a towering, spire-like 24 feet in its day, a time when even the tallest trees were no more than a few feet high.

Even today, the largest living fungus dwarfs many major cities, and easily an adult blue whale. With its sprawling, 2,384-acre mycelium, the giant, 2,400-8,650-year-old Armillaria ostoyae of Oregon’s Blue Mountains covers an impressive four square miles—the equivalent of nearly 2,000 football fields.

Fungi are also surprisingly resilient. Certain species can survive at sub-zero temperatures by generating their own heat (hence the need to freeze meat to -10°F or below), as well as relatively high temperatures of up to 150°F.

Evidence even suggests that fungal spores could survive in interstellar space for hundreds of years—or perhaps even tens of millions of years given dark, molecular clouds to travel in. In theory, this could allow them to drift from one solar system to another for aeons, potentially seeding life across whole galaxies.

8. Fungi Are Medical Miracle Workers

For thousands of years, fungi have been used in medicine. The ancient Chinese used Ophiocordyceps sinensis (a fungus that grows on insects) as a general panacea, Hippocrates used Fomes fomentarius as an anti-inflammatory, and Native Americans used puffballs on wounds. More recently, of course, penicillin(from Penicillium fungi) has been used as an antibiotic.

And we can expect plenty more fungal remedies in the future. One of the most promising and potentially groundbreaking species is the agarikon wood conk (Laricifomes officinalis) that grows on Douglas fir trees in the forests of the Pacific Northwest. This lumpy fungus, which looks a little like a wasps’ nest on trees, is extremely resistant to a range of flu viruses—including (in combination with other mushrooms) the potentially devastating bird flu—and it’s completely non-toxic for us.

It could also be key to developing effective vaccines against smallpox, which is big news considering how few of us have been vaccinated and how little vaccine there is. Hence the Department of Health and Human Services set up Project BioShield to investigate the agarikon fungus, and Stamets has declared the conservation of its old-growth habitats a matter of national security.

7. Raw Mushrooms Are Inedible (Especially the Ones that You Eat)

Whether we like them or not, we all tend to think of edible mushrooms as a generally healthy food. And we’re not entirely wrong—particularly when it comes to medicinal mushrooms like reishi (lingzhi), shiitake, and lion’s mane. However, there’s an important caveat to keep in mind: All mushrooms need to be cooked.

Because of their tough cell walls composed mainly of chitin (the same protectively fibrous substance as the exoskeletons of arthropods), uncooked mushrooms are basically indigestible by humans. Worse, many species (or even individual specimens of otherwise “edible” species, because of their porousness) contain harmful pathogens and toxins that may lead to cell damage and digestive irritation, among other specific complaints.

Not only will thorough heating eliminate these toxins from mushrooms, but cooking or heat-treating is also necessary to release the proteins, vitamins, and minerals that we’re eating them for in the first place.

Surprisingly, this caveat especially applies to the everyday “salad mushrooms”—the white/button/portobello/brown/chestnut/cremini type—that so many of us like to eat raw. There’s a genuinely creepy part of Stamets’ interview with Joe Rogan where, having stated these mushrooms in particular need to be cooked at high temperatures, he refuses to explain exactly why. When pressed by Rogan on what some of their negative effects might be, Stamets just stares back at him and says, in all seriousness, “this is an explosive area of conversation and it puts my life in danger, so I reserve the right not to answer the question.”

It’s not entirely clear what he meant by that, but we do know that an “unfortunate group of compounds” in this type of mushroom (Agaricus bisporus) has carcinogenic properties. And while these agaritines, as they’re called, do break down when cooked, they need to be cooked pretty well—since even boiling these mushrooms for 2 hours straight won’t completely eliminate the compounds.

6. They Can Be Used to Make Paper and Clothing

Fungi have many uses besides the medicinal and gourmet. For example, the same chitin that makes them pretty much indigestible for humans can also be used to make paper. Scientists realized this in the 1970s while investigating chitin shrimp shells as a possible alternative to wood pulp. Moreover, some of the best fungi for papermaking—turkey tail and reishi—are both easy to mass produce. In fact, with only a few pieces of equipment, you could rapidly grow them at home, then pulp them in a blender to mold into sheets to dry.

Fungi can also be used to make textiles, as well as the dyes to color themRomanians have long extracted amadou from Fomes fomentarius fungi to make traditional felt-like hats, for example. But it turns out garments can actually be grown as fungi from scratch. Starting out in petri dishes, living mycelium “fabric swatches” are placed around 3D models and allowed to grow into individual, one-of-a-kind garments. Even shoes can be made in this way. And of course they’ll all be 100% biodegradable, as well as, in many cases, water-repellant, anti-microbial, and actually beneficial for the skin.

5. They Can Be Used to Light Up the Dark

Fomes fomentarius has a far more prehistoric, and far more functional, use than hatmaking. Also known as the tinder fungus, it has a remarkable ability to catch and hold the otherwise cold, inert sparks that come from striking flint—ideal for starting and carrying fires in the wild. This may have been why Ötzi the Iceman, the frozen 5,000-year-old mummy, carried a lump of it in a pouch.

But there’s another way fungi can light up the dark, and it doesn’t involve any flames. Bioluminescent fungus species produce a green glow or “foxfire” when luciferin (“light-bringer”) molecules react with oxygen—just as in fireflies, anglerfish, and other bioluminescent organisms. More than 80 species of fungus, including Neonothopanus gardneri (flor de coco), are known to glow in the dark and, interestingly enough, they onlyglow in the dark, attracting insects at night to scatter their spores.

Clearly this is of interest to us. For one thing, thanks to the compatibility of fungal luciferin with plant biochemistry, scientists believe it could one day be used to genetically engineer bioluminescent trees as a sustainable, in fact literally green, alternative to streetlights.

4. They’re Not Even Close to Being Plants

They might appear to grow like plants and in some cases even look like plants, but, genetically speaking, fungi have a lot more in common with animals. Just like us, they “breathe in” oxygen and give out CO2, they don’t need sunlight to reproduce, and they rely on other organisms for food. Also, the chitin that makes up their cell walls is found nowhere in the plant kingdom (which uses cellulose instead) but is plentiful among animals, including the shells of crabs and insects. As you’ve probably noticed, mushrooms can even feel a little like meat when you’re eating them, hence their (somewhat misguided) use in “vegetarian” meat substitutes.

Around 650 billion years ago, animals and fungi branched from a common ancestor, the super-kingdom known as opisthokonta. And it’s thought that our shared ancestral opisthokonts had both animal and fungal features. In other words, as Stamets puts it, animals came from fungi; humans are fungal bodies.

And while we’ve a lot less in common with a toadstool than a chimp, our shared genetic ancestry might explain why fungal diseases in humans can be tricky to target and treat without also harming the host.

3. They Invented the Internet (A Billion+ Years Before We Did)

Evolutionary cousins or not, it’s tempting to think of fungi as somewhat behind animals, and certainly humans, in the so-called “march of progress.” They don’t move, they don’t speak, they have no discernible culture (except in the purely biological sense of the term), and they’re not even self-aware. On the surface, they’re more “stupid” than jellyfish.

But are any of these traits really necessary, or even desirable, as a measure of practical intelligence?

According to researchers in 2010, even slime mold is smarter than some of our brightest and best. Arranging oat flakes in the pattern of cities around Tokyo, scientists observed a specimen of yellow slime mold (Physarum polycephalum) establish, reinforce, and refine nutrient-carrying links between them. And by the end of the experiment, not only did this mycelial network bear a striking resemblance to the existing Tokyo metro system, it was also more efficient. Unlike the human effort, the fungal equivalent continually strengthened the busiest tubes—the tubes carrying the most nutrients—and pruned any that became redundant.

And this is just how mycelium works in nature, relaying not only food but also crucial information about the environment, including the precise whereabouts of food sources (e.g. fallen branches) and predators (e.g. footsteps), across huge distances. It even forms mutually beneficial alliances, or “guilds,” with other organisms.

Hence mycologists think of mycelium as a kind of natural internet, with individual tips branching out to explore and the entire network benefiting from their discoveries. Stamets calls it “the neurological network of nature,” and even believes we might one day be able to communicate with it. With “a level of complexity that exceeds the computational powers of our most advanced supercomputers,” mycelia could tell us all sorts about the environment, as well as the organisms within it, and this could be vital for our survival on this planet—or indeed any other. Given the staggering efficiency of fungi, there may well be similarly networked organisms throughout the entire universe.

2. Eating Some Fungi Makes Us Smarter—Much Smarter, Immediately

According to ethnobotanist Terence McKenna, human evolution from Homo erectus to the much smarter Homo sapiens was made possible by eating certain species of mushrooms, the revolutionary psychoactive effects of which we encountered upon descending from the trees. And while McKenna’s hypothesis is controversial, it’s not nearly as far-fetched as it sounds—nor even as exciting as the facts.

Increasingly, scientists are discovering that psilocybin—the psychoactive alkaloid found in Psilocybe semilanceatacubensisazurescens, and cyanescens, among others—is like Miracle-Gro for the brain. More specifically, the compound promotes the growth of new neurons (a process known as neurogenesis) and optimizes the connections between them (neuroplasticity), liberating us from established patterns of thought and behavior, and dramatically enhancing cognition. And this can happen within hours even on tiny amounts—hence the allure of “microdosing” psilocybin for a competitive edge in the workplace.

Many have also reported near-miraculous recoveries from depression, anxiety, addiction, PTSD, aggression, and other negative mind states. Paul Stamets himself, following an especially profound experience with “magic mushrooms,” was immediately and permanently cured of a lifelong stuttering habit.

Although scandalously illegal in most countries (though some are making progress), not only is psilocybin safe for human consumption, it actually works with the brain in a way that suggests it’s supposed to.

1. Fungi Could Save the Planet

Actually, fungi already save the planet every day, since without them dead plants wouldn’t be turned back into soil and life on Earth would soon disappear beneath mountains of lifeless debris. However, there’s another, arguably more pressing way that fungi could save the world—and it’s from ourselves.

It’s already well known that many species of fungus are excellent for bio remediation work—the removal of toxic substances like pesticides from otherwise healthy soil. These chemicals are in widespread use around the world and are massively detrimental to the environment, as well as to global bee populations crucial for natural pollination. But, as Stamets has found (and patented, much to Monsanto’s dismay), not only could fungi help to eliminate these toxins, they could also effectively replace them. That is, we could breed certain insect-destroying species of fungus to attract and eliminate pests, parasitizing them and even their colonies without polluting the environment—and, importantly, without killing bees. And this Myco Pesticide could soon be in widespread use around the world instead of toxic sprays; indeed even the chemical pesticide industry calls it “the most disruptive technology we have ever witnessed.”

Furthermore, MycoHoney, another of Stamets’ products, promises to halt colony collapse among bees—a major threat to our food supply. Made from polypore mycelium, which bees are naturally attracted to, MycoHoney keeps bees from dying too early. And this means that younger, stay-at-home “nurse” bees aren’t forced to replace older, foraging “worker” bees prematurely killed by, say, chemical pesticides, and can instead focus on protecting and maintaining the hive. Given that 30% of our crops and 90% of wild plants rely on pollination, this is very good news indeed.


Fungus Fun Facts –

Mushrooming Our Minds

The NULL Solution = Episode 129

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The NULL Solution = Episode 129

…Who says a watched pot doesn’t boil…

“You look like you’re having fun.”

“While you were out scoping out the Olympus Mons, I noticed something going on with the seismic sensor. I think it one of its peaks may be ready to pop.”

“That may explain the ambient temperature rise I recorded, Gus. Gravitational increases may be causing the core to heat up again.”

“The last volcanic activity here petered out while the dinosaurs were still kicking on Earth. I think we should keep a closer eye on that sector.”

“Why risk being too close to the Tharsis area? The ash will surely be red and probably bust through the stratosphere… which is at a lower altitude than Earth’s.”

“Precisely. When she blows, you will drive the drone out of the newly created hole in that pesky force-field.”

“You are hoping it will cause a rift, no guarantee when that will happen.”

“I’m betting it will. I’m also betting that the power-that-is, did not anticipate this event – shoot, the mountain is nearly scraping sub-space as it stands now. We can ride right out with the rest of the debris. It will be perfect cover!”

“It is sheer craziness, but it’s worth a try.”

“My daughter is growing up without me and you have that peanut farm to go home to.”

A Gus can hope, can’t he?Image result for pot boiling gif

“Pistachios.” Rick has not lost hope either, “What if we use the laser drill to stir up the magma?”

Who says a watched pot doesn’t boil!”

It will be so written in the bylaws of Cryptomaniacs Anonymous {Milky Way Chapter}:

No member shall be bound to a riddle, if there is a logical way around said riddle; which may result in temporary loss of membership. Reinstatement is not guaranteed.

… It is so recorded on Stardate 2056.64 from the planet Mars of the Terran system in the Milky Way Galaxy.


The NULL Solution =

Episode 129


page 127 (end Ch. 11)