I’m interested in archiving / saving seeds. This means that, by necessity, I’m also interested in germinating old seeds. My usual approach to this has been to preserve the seeds by eliminating the 2 things that most spoil germination after storage:
To some extent I’m also blocking light and there is no significant radiation source nearby either. I also limit, but do not eliminate, the oxygen exposure.
All of this is done by packing the seeds or seed packets into glass canning jars (or even old jam jars that have been cleaned) and setting them in a freezer (or even just a refrigerator if the freezer is full).
Blocking moisture prevents activation of the germination mechanisms too soon (and then they don’t work later), while heat / light / radiation / oxygen directly damage the germination machinery and viability of the germ cells.
I could improve my storage by adding some kind of “oxygen scavenger” to the jars, but have not felt the need for it (yet…). Basically, I depend on the natural anti-oxidants in the seeds to do that job. There are commercial oxygen absorbers widely sold for food storage folks, and those ought to work.
OTOH, having germinated 10 year old onions seeds just from the refrigerator, I’m not feeling the need for regular garden seeds. We’ll see if that’s still the case after I try germinating some of my older seeds in the coming years.
By doing this, I’ve managed to germinate 10 year old onion seeds (when the common rule of thumb is that they are only viable for 1 year in typical garden shed conditions) and even germinated and grew out some lentil seeds that had been stored at room temperature in a jar for 16 years. (That’s an extreme case – I was testing the thesis that their seed coat would neutralize oxygen over time, being high in what I think are tannins, but something brown).
Turns out I’m a piker in all this…
This is a Nat Geo article (that has an annoying 1/2 page covering “sign up” nag) and then cuts off the article:
A plant grown from a 32,000-year-old seed.
A plant regenerated from 32,000-year-old seeds.
32,000-Year-Old Plant Brought Back to Life—Oldest Yet
Feat may help scientists preserve seeds for the future.
BYRACHEL KAUFMANFOR NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC NEWS
PUBLISHED FEBRUARY 23, 2012
A Russian team discovered a seed cache of Silene stenophylla, a flowering plant native to Siberia, that had been buried by an Ice Age squirrel near the banks of the Kolyma River (map). Radiocarbon dating confirmed that the seeds were 32,000 years old.
The mature and immature seeds, which had been entirely encased in ice, were unearthed from 124 feet (38 meters) below the permafrost, surrounded by layers that included mammoth, bison, and woolly rhinoceros bones.
The mature seeds had been damaged—perhaps by the squirrel itself, to prevent them from germinating in the burrow. But some of the immature seeds retained viable plant material.
The team extracted that tissue from the frozen seeds, placed it in vials, and
Then it runs out… so we’ll go somewhere else to read the rest of the story…
This one has some really nice photos in it, so “hit the link” to see them!
Back From The Dead: Researchers Use 32,000-Year-Old Seeds To Grow Plant
The oldest plant ever to be regenerated has been grown from 32,000-year-old seeds—beating the previous record-holder by some 30,000 years.
A Russian team discovered a seed cache of Silene stenophylla, a flowering plant native to Siberia, that had been buried by an Ice Age squirrel near the banks of the Kolyma River (map). Radiocarbon dating confirmed that the seeds were 32,000 years old.
The story starts over 10 years ago, when a team of Russian, Hungarian, and American scientists recovered the frozen seeds in 2007. They were buried 125 feet underground, deep in the Siberian permafrost. The team was investigating the burrows of ancient squirrels when they made the discovery. Fruit and seeds had been perfectly sealed from the elements thanks to the squirrels’ burrowing techniques.
The Russian researchers excavated ancient squirrel burrows exposed on the bank of the lower Kolyma River, an area thronged with mammoth and woolly rhinoceroses during the last ice age. The mature and immature seeds, which had been entirely encased in ice, were unearthed from 124 feet (38 meters) below the permafrost, surrounded by layers that included mammoth, bison, and woolly rhinoceros bones.
So, OK, there’s the first useful bit: Encased in ice and oxygen blocked by the permafrost. Very close to the same idea as my “jar in a freezer”, but with more moisture exposure possible. So far, so good. Gives me a lot of hope for my freezer archive approach.
I find myself plagued by mental movies of the Ice Age movie Paleo-Squirrel stuffing seeds into the ground ;-)
I’d also note that speculation a squirrel “damaged” the mature seeds to prevent germination is just that: speculation. I think it is just as possible that the squirrel knows the “germ” of the seed has the most seed oils and is most prone to going rancid over time; so doesn’t store well and ought to be eaten right now. But starch heavy non-germ parts can be stored. Same thing we do with removing wheat germ from wheat when making flour, and for the same reasons.
“The squirrels dug the frozen ground to build their burrows, which are about the size of a soccer ball, putting in hay first and then animal fur for a perfect storage chamber,” shared Stanislav Gubin, one of the researchers who explored the burrows. “It’s a natural cryobank.”
“This is an amazing breakthrough,” said Grant Zazula of the Yukon Paleontology Program at Whitehorse in Yukon Territory, Canada. “I have no doubt in my mind that this is a legitimate claim.” It was Dr. Zazula who showed that the apparently ancient lupine seeds found by the Yukon gold miner were in fact modern.
But the Russians’ extraordinary report is likely to provoke calls for more proof. “It’s beyond the bounds of what we’d expect,” said Alastair Murdoch, an expert on seed viability at the University of Reading in England. When poppy seeds are kept at minus 7 degrees Celsius, the temperature the Russians reported for the campions, after only 160 years just 2 percent of the seeds will be able to germinate, Dr. Murdoch noted.
Some of the storage chambers in the burrows contain more than 600,000 seeds and fruits. Many are from a species that most closely resembles a plant found today, the narrow-leafed campion (Silene stenophylla).
Working with a burrow from the site called Duvanny Yar, the Russian researchers tried to germinate the campion seeds but failed. They then took cells from the placenta, the organ in the fruit that produces the seeds. They thawed out the cells and grew them in culture dishes into whole plants.
Now here’s our second bit of clue. Tissue Culture works when even normal sprouting does not. We’ll come back to that in the video below.
Many plants can be propagated from a single adult cell, and this cloning procedure worked with three of the placentas, the Russian researchers report. They grew 36 ancient plants, which appeared identical to the present day narrow-leafed campion until they flowered when they produced narrower and more splayed-out petals. Seeds from the ancient plants germinated with 100 percent success, compared with 90 percent for seeds from living campions.
The Russian team says it obtained a radiocarbon date of 31,800 years from seeds attached to the same placenta from which the living plants were propagated.
The researchers suggest that special circumstances may have contributed to the remarkable longevity of the campion plant cells. Squirrels construct their larders next to permafrost to keep seeds cool during the arctic summers, so the fruits would have been chilled from the start. The fruit’s placenta contains high levels of sucrose and phenols, which are good antifreeze agents.
Then it goes on from there with more emoting and less technical talk…
SO, OK. There’s a lot of ways this can go. Searching the permafrost for all sorts of seeds, pollen, cells to culture from “whatever”. We need to be exploring natures deep freeze to see what all we can recover.
But what sent me down this path was a video that talks about using cell culture techniques to get the seed itself to germinate. In particular, they use a 1:20 dilution of commercial 3% hydrogen peroxide to sterilize the seed surface (or 0.15%) and then soak the seeds in a dilute sugar solution with an “oxygen source” – perhaps more peroxide? Broken down by the presence of sugar?
They sell a “kit” for this (or maybe sold… it is a 9 year old video), but in an EOTWAWKI case, I’d be willing to try a DIY with peroxide and sugar.
Even without that: I’ve had “issues” with trying to germinate some seeds and them going all moldy. The notion of just doing the sterilize and germinate in a test tube, and then use tweezers to move them to dirt, is highly likely to cure that problem.
So I think I’m going to be “upping my game” on seed germination / propagation by adopting some of these “tissue culture” techniques.
Here’s the video:
Something to keep in mind For That Day… or just to improve your seed viability and germination success.
There will be a bit more work needed to find the right sugar concentration and what the “oxygen source” concentration might be. I’m guessing you can dilute the peroxide soak solution by about another 5 or 10 to 1, and then add a 1% or so sugar content.
There’s another guy who used 1 tsp of sugar (about 5 ml) to a cup of water (about 250 ml) so about a 1:50 ratio of 2% solution. But then you need to adjust for the air space in granulated sugar… and is it mass ratio of volume ratio that matters… But it is a reasonable place to start.
So my first cut will be a 1 hour soak in 0.15% peroxide solution, then a soak in a 1% sugar solution with 1% sugar added for 24 hours for “hard seeds” and 3 or 5 hours for smaller soft seeds (or until they sink). Then you rinse the seeds. We’ll see how that works.
The YouTuber MIgardener has managed to sprout an 85 or 87 year old tomato variety, “stored” in a seed packet in a wall hanging display box… so I’m pretty sure my frozen seeds will work better ;-)
Good info on seed germination! I have a BUNCH of partial used seed packs that go back four or five years, but they have not been in the freezer, just stuck in a box at room temperature. I just did some Cherokee Pumpkins that were three years old. Soaked them 24 hours, started in cups; about half sprouted and are now in the garden. Will have to try the peroxide plus sugar.
I don’t want to veer too far off subject, but would like to point out that the Siberian Silene stenophylla has a relative way down in South Africa, Silene capensis. It is commonly known as the African Dream Root. (Well, maybe not “commonly”; probably not too well known.) Lore is that the root inspires lucid dreaming. Some people say that the lucid dreams last long term. I tried it a few times but did not experience any marked response. Perhaps because I did not have complete instructions and just chewed the root before going to bed.
Dream Root, eh? Hmmm…
So concentrated saponins via a floatation foam process as used in mining and mineral refining… Visions of an Arctic Paleo-Squirrel tripping on roots… ;-)
Looks like a South American variation on “Dream” stuff too:
Other seed tips:
Mostly adds scarifying the seed coat as it hardens over time, to let the water and sugar in. Plus the notion of replacing some nutrients or enzymes that might be missing:
I see the mention of B vitamins. Interesting. There is a commercial product “SuperThrive” which is used to boost plant growth. I would note that it has that certain smell of B vitamins. Bet it’s in there!
I often grow bean sprouts. I wonder if the rinse water would have enough chemicals all shouting “Look at me! I’m SPROUTING!!” to make it worth using rinse water to soak garden seeds. I guess most people know about the trick of taking willow branches, soaking them in water and using that water to induce rooting of cuttings.
As for Dream Root and variants — wow, I had no idea there were all those other plants. I am not a doctor, but if I were to try one of them again, I think I would accompany it with a mega-dose of Vitamin D. How much? 40,000 or 50,000 IU, waaaay about the normal 1,000 or 2,000 in a capsule. And NO, barring some weird illness, I do not think a one time dose that size is not toxic. (Check and see how much Vitamin D a day at the beach generates.) I have found that a megadose gives me brighter, more colorful dreams. Friends have reported the same. By the way, some ancient cultures used to build special “dream houses”. I do not know whether it was the location or the design, but they were constructed especially to induce meaningful dreams to those who slept inside. They were usually associated with a nearby temple.
Very interesting discussion. I have a query that you may be able to assist with. I am a wine maker. I’m also old and subject to aches and pains that I think can be reduced if I include a good source of antioxidants in my diet. Grape seeds of red grape varieties have been found to contain more resveratrol.
The people of Okinawa that eat a lot of purple/red sweet potato and live live long lives. At https://www.downtoearth.org/health/nutrition/okinawan-sweet-potato-purple-powerhouse-nutrition we learn that sweet potatoes of all varieties are high in vitamin A, vitamin C and manganese. They are also a good source of copper, dietary fiber, vitamin B6, potassium and iron. Sweet potatoes are known to improve blood sugar regulation and some studies have discovered significant antibacterial and antifungal properties. The primary nutritional benefit, and the one for which Okinawan sweet potatoes are especially prized, is their high antioxidant levels. The antioxidant known as anthocyanin is the pigment which is responsible for the brilliant purple color of the flesh. It is the same pigment that gives blueberries, red grapes and red cabbage their color.
Blueberries are well known for their high antioxidant levels, however, the Okinawan sweet potato actually has 150 percent more antioxidants than blueberries. Antioxidants help to guard against cardiovascular disease and cancer.
This is a similar story to that relating to grape seeds. The aging researcher David Sinclair is keen on resveratrol supplements.
I extract the seeds of the grapes after fermentation as soon as the mix of skins and seeds exit the press that extracts nearly all of the liquid. The drier, the better so far as separating the seeds from the skins is concerned and also to avoid deterioration due to organisms that like the alcohol, yeast etc that remains. I use a trommel made from a 200 litre plastic drum with holes drilled in the walls for the seeds to exit. The drum sits on a timber frame equipped with castor wheels facing upwards and It is turned by hand using a bolt covered with a plastic pipe that is secured to one of the bungs. Two shovels full at a time, rotate ten times and empty via the nearly fully open bottom of the drum (due to cutting the middle out with a jigsaw) does the trick.
To dry the seeds I use a food drier and set seeds on paper in an electric oven. A wire cage with shelves that is covered in plastic film out in the sun also does the trick if there is enough sunshine. Temperatures rise up to 50°C. Once dried I store in plastic containers and grind them as I need them, for which I use a high speed grinder commonly used for seed grinding in Asia that is equipped with stainless blades and an excellent hermetically sealed lid that is secured with adjustable over centre lugs.
I haven’t tried to germinate these seeds but I imagine that the temperature in exposed topsoil in summer easily gets to 50°C and is maintained for many hours and the seeds survive. Grape seeds are really tough after they have dried. Not easy to grind to a powder and the grinding raises the temperature so it must be done in steps to allow the heat to be lost.
I am concerned that the value of the product may suffer from the drying process. Any clues, ideas, contributions very welcome. I reckon their is a potential by-product going to waste as we take it back into the vineyard to compost in the rows and thereby return to the soil.
There was a CSIRO process for drying fruit which was for those heat sensitive. Basically an air conditioner which circulated the air through the fruit (on trays in one side of the shed) and circulated it back into the drying trays in the other side of the shed.
It ran into problems as the circulated air got hotter slowly. I don’t know if this would help your problem.
Nice hacks, idk but I think o2 absorbers are just ferrous metal filings
Hi Graeme No 3. I have the means to dry the seeds. But I am wondering about the tolerances for best results.
I think there is something in the Climate of the USA that prolongs the germinate time of various things in the country. I point out that Joe B. is supposedly good for another 6 years according to the Democrats also Hilary C. is doubtful (piece in The Australian) claiming that Don T. (and supporters are worse) but claiming she won’t be standing for relection.
@earl happ: Hey Earl, you mention of Okinawan sweet potatoes
made me think of the purple Filipino “ube” (pronounced ooo-bae) yams. Ube has a lot of anthocyanin also:
You can commonly find ube at any ethnic Filipino grocery store. Ube is delicious as an ice cream!
But that made me read a bit about anthocyanin. Some years back I grew a bunch of dark purple morning glories. In fact, they grow wild here, but the domesticated versions have a darker purple. I steeped some of the flowers in ethanol (vodka as I remember) to make a liquid which was a fun pH indicator. But that dark purple color is from the presence of anthocyanin. I wonder if you could grow your own anthocyanin by simply growing the darkest purple morning glories you could find, pick the flowers, dry the petals and powder them. (Note that the morning glory SEEDS are hallucinogenic and were very popular with Mayans and Aztecs. They are also TOXIC. Don’t eat the seeds…)
As for prepping grape seeds, no ideas from me on that. Sounds like you are already an expert!
When in doubt query Google
Heating up to 150°C increased antioxidant extractable with alcohol.
Of interest from the Introduction:
In most cases, phenolics mediate their anti-carcinogenic effects by inhibiting all stages of chemical carcinogenesis, initiation, promotion and progression as well as formation of carcinogens from dietary precursors (Jang et al., 1997; Weisburger,Nagao, Wakabyashi, & Oguri, 1994).Grape (Vitis vinifera) is one of the world’s largest fruitcrops and grape seed is a complex matrix containing approximately 40% fiber, 16% oil, 11% proteins, and 7% complex phenols including tannins, in addition to sugars, mineral salts, etc. Pro-anthocyanidins of grapeseed are a group of polyphenolic bioflavonoids, which are known to possess broad pharmacological activities and therapeutic potentials (Bagchi et al., 2002). Pro-anthocyanidins, the major polyphenols found in red wine and grape seeds, have been reported to show cardioprotective effects against ischemic reperfusion injury(Sato, Maulik, Ray, Bagchi, & Das, 1999). In addition,grape seeds are rich sources of monomeric phenolic compounds, such as (+)-catechins, ()-epicatechin,()-epicatechin-3-o-gallate, and dimeric, trimeric and tetrameric procyanidins, which have anti-mutagenic and antiviral effects (Saito, Hosoyama, Ariga, Kataoka,& Yamaji, 1998). Recognition of such health benefits of catechins and procyanidins has facilitated the use of grape seed extract as a dietary supplement. The objective of this research was to elucidate the relationship between heating and physical conditions of grape seeds on the antioxidant activity of grape seed extract (GSE).
(19) (PDF) Effect of heating of grape seeds on the antioxidant activity of grape seed extracts. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/222542070_Effect_of_heating_of_grape_seeds_on_the_antioxidant_activity_of_grape_seed_extracts [accessed May 24 2023].
Last link to dark purple morning glory seeds did not load in last comment. Try again!
Hi guys, its not that I am so far gone that I can’t spell my own name. Erl is a truncation of Erland. Thanks for the contributions. I do like to dip into nature and gather what I can that’s useful. Twigs for lighting a fire, branches and trunks for post and rail fence, a bit of bamboo for a stake and so on.
I had an uncle who was a pharmacist. Personally, he would never practice what he had to preach to his customers. Not even an asprin would he take. I am routinely asked what medications I am on. Zilch at 80 is a a big surprise to the professionals who deal in such things.
Here in Australia, many plants have adapted to regular fires. Their seeds germinate in the presence of smoke. If you have a meat smoker, it may be worthwhile exposing to that environment. I have also heard that soaking them in water which has had smoke passed through it works as well, so maybe you could find a willing bong smoker to source the correct material for an experiment.
I dry my seeds on a parchment lined cookie sheet then vacuum pack them with my food saver then freeze. Never had a problem with seeds regenerating although I use them up within 2 years
Hey erl, apologies for prior misspelling on my part! Not sure why link is not posting for dark morning glories. Just go to any good seed source and they are available. I think your “no prescriptions at 80” habit is well thought of by most here. Me? No prescriptions at 70. So far!
Some pines in California as similarly smoke / fire adapted. It is a bit of a specialization not found in most plants (and in no food crops that I know of, unless you grow pine nuts for a living ;-)
Also note that SOME plants have evolved a mechanism to assure their seeds to not sprout just before winter kills them; so they require a “cold period” of a week or two to set them up to germinate when it is again “warm & wet”. So simply cycling your seeds through the fridge or freezer can help with some plants.
But yeah, for “advanced seed starting” IFF you have seeds from a fire prone area, worth a try to see if they are such. So noting here (has illustrations in the original):
Amazon has decided to be “cute” and turn links into graphic product advertising shoved in the middle of your page. This fails with the “Kindle” message (for God Only Knows what reason and what software they are trying to re-use…).
The way to fix that is to put “Link:” right in front of the link. (in reality, I think any text that has the link NOT start in the first position would work). I’ve done this with both of your link attempts so you can see how it works (now).
Note, too, that in one of your pasted links, I removed all the tracking information (ref=sr_1_2?keywords=morning+glory+seeds+black&sr=8-2) which shows the keywords in your search and some other information about your activity. Leaving it ending with just the product ID (B004F8I4HY/) and in that way show both work, but you don’t need all the junk after and including “ref=….”
So now you know both “why” and how to “fix” it.
More reading, and the history is interesting:
@EM: “So now you know both “why” and how to “fix” it.”
Thanks, E.M., much appreciated. That blasted Amazon link surprised me. I normally test links before I place them into a comment, i.e., I open another tab, past them in, make sure they open correctly. and THEN put them into the comment. I was puzzled why it refused to open. Thanks for the clarification.
I wasn’t sure whether to put this in “WOOD”, but as germinating seeds, and growing plants leads to photosynthesis, I’ll try my question here.
Does starlight make water?
You might have seen a wonderful video featuring the great physicist Richard Feynman:
“People look at a tree and think it comes out of the ground, that plants grow out of the ground, ” he says, but “if you ask, where does the substance [of the tree] come from? You find out … trees come out of the air!”
Or more recently. Derek Miller of Australia’s science video site, Veritasium.
“Would it surprise you,” Derek asks three young guys in a park … “to discover that 95 percent of a tree is actually from carbon dioxide, that trees are largely made up of air?”
How significant it seems (to me) that the people Miller interviews have no curiosity or awareness until he prompts them. And then the “light dawns”.
Sunlight gets mentioned as an energy source. But what is it? A stream of photons that combine with the CO2 by the magic of photosynthesis
In plant photosynthesis, the energy of light is used to drive the oxidation of water (H2O), producing oxygen gas (O2), hydrogen ions (H+), and electrons. Most of the removed electrons and hydrogen ions ultimately are transferred to carbon dioxide (CO2), which is reduced to organic products. Other electrons and hydrogen ions are used to reduce nitrate and sulfate to amino and sulfhydryl groups in amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins. In most green cells, carbohydrates—especially starch and the sugar sucrose—are the major direct organic products of photosynthesis.
OK, that’s the orthodox explanation.
But what is that sunlight made of?
OK, it’s a stream of photons.
But what if the photons become protons?
Researchers at Manchester University have discovered that the rate at which graphene conducts protons increases 10 fold when it is illuminated with sunlight. Dubbed the “photo-proton” effect, the finding could lead to graphene membranes being used to produce hydrogen from artificial photosynthesis, as well as for light-induced water splitting, photo-catalysis and in photodetectors.
So, I’m wondering: In natural photosynthesis, does some of that photon/proton/hydrogen combine with oxygen to make more water?
For our own amusement, some Feynman quotes:
If you thought that science was certain – well, that is just an error on your part.
We need to teach how doubt is not to be feared but welcomed. It’s OK to say, “l don’t know.”
We absolutely must leave room for doubt or there is no progress and no learning. There is no learning without having to pose a question. And a question requires doubt. People search for certainty. But there is no certainty.
Looking back at the worst times, it always seems that they were times in which there were people who believed with absolute faith and absolute dogmatism in something. And they were so serious in this matter that they insisted that the rest of the world agree with them. And then they would do things that were directly inconsistent with their own beliefs in order to maintain that what they said was true.
@ Keith Macdonald: “So, I’m wondering: In natural photosynthesis, does some of that photon/proton/hydrogen combine with oxygen to make more water?”
Short answer? I think it does.
A little more detail: (And let me preface this with a clear confession that others here (like E.M.) are way better at chemistry than I am, so I defer to the experts.) But if I remember correctly, the photosynthesis uses the photons to break down water to hydrogen (protons once you get rid of that pesky electron) and oxygen. But most chemical reactions have some level of back reaction. That is, while you are busy trying to synthesize foo out of bits of bar, some of the newly minted foo is simultaneously reverting to bits of bar. So presumably, while you are trying to make sugars out of CO2 and H2O, some of those bits of H could be expected to “go the wrong way” and link up again with some of that O. Chemical reactions are statistical. You can persuade reactions to MOSTLY go a certain way, but the little buggers sometimes go backward. My final answer? Yes, I think you must get some water reformed.
Per “does starlight make water”? The ultimate answer is “no”.
Water is the combination of H with Oxygen. H is primordial (though can also get made from a proton spit of of some other atom… except it first got into some other atom via a Star doing Nuclear Fusion.
The H eventually gets moved up the fusion food chain to an Alpha Particle (or a Helium-4 if it gets some electrons).
At this point, the magic of Nuclear Chemistry takes over. In stars, as they burn their fuel and evolve, there is a peculiar love of alpha particles. Stable and plentiful, they make the backbone of stellar evolution and chemistry.
So Stars just LOVE to make things with multiples of Alpha Particles. So looking at your periodic chart:
You will see that 2 Alpha make a Be, but it tends to suck up more pretty quick and 3 of them make a Carbon 12. Four of them an Oxygen 16. Five a Neon. 6 gets you to Magnesium and 7 to Silicon 14 (mass of 28) along with Sulphur using 8 (mass 32). In the next row, Calcium is 20 (mass 40) .
But here is where the OTHER big issue starts to rise up. Iron, at 26 (or 13 alphas, but with a mass of 55 to 56 has a few extra neutrons sucked up) is at THE lowest point in The Curve Of Binding Energy. You don’t get any more energy OUT from fusion after that point, and in fact have to start putting more energy back in.
So things heavier that Iron come mostly from Nova and Supernova events pushing some of the atoms over the energy hump and up into very heavy energy dense things.
THE main consequence of this is that stars make mostly those earlier lighter elements; and of them, really like to make the ones listed as multiples of alpha particles.
And THAT, boys and girls, is why we are a Carbon Based life that lives on a largely Silicon Oxides rocky layer over an Iron core. Breathing Oxygen and drinking water. (And, incidentally, why Mg & Ca figure in our metabolism a lot, along with rock chemistry).
Si, O, Mg, S, Ca, Iron figure prominently in crustal rocks. All but Si are common in life systems. Why? Because it is a lot of what was laying around to react and evolve…
So, you see, it isn’t star LIGHT that made all the water. It was star Nuclear Chemistry that made the Oxygen that reacted with the H to make water… What happens to it after the star makes it is just not something the star worries about much…
Oh, and since Star Nuclear Chemistry is pretty much the same everywhere, we can fairly reliably predict that most planets will be either Gas Giants with a lot of H, He, CO2, CH4 and similar in their gas layer; or “rocky planets” with a lot of rocks heavy in Silicon Oxides, S compounds like sulfates, Mg & Ca, and a fair amount of iron both in rocks and as metallic cores.
Oh, and not as much Be and Ne as you might expect. They like to absorb another alpha and get rapidly “moved along” to the next more stable element. Similarly, any Lithium kicking about really likes to react and turn into something else, so Li is fairly rare in the earth crust. And yes, other stuff, like Na and K, are also very important, It isn’t ONLY alpha particles that get moved along, and some He is He3 after all…
If you look into Stellar Nuclear Reactions you will find stars named for their stage of life and dominant element they are fusing. Neon stars. Helium burners. Even Carbon Stars that are mostly very dense carbon. Usually called Diamond Stars… And yes, if a Star effectively ran out of fuel at that stage and was not dense enough to go to the next stage of burning, it would “burn out” into a very very giant Diamond…
But those are the big lumps.
So your water is made in stars, but not of photons…
FWIW, plants do respiration too, especially when it is dark. Then they break down stored food to grow and metabolize. This will break down sugars and add oxygen, making CO2 and water. So to some extent plants do make water… just not when they are breaking it down via photons…
Also, photorespiration occurs, in part where rubisco gets oxygen poisoned. That happens when the local (and background) carbon dioxide levels get too low. Why would any sane person want to starve plants? We *should* be returning some of that sequestered carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere. Optimum, I think, is near 1% carbon dioxide. Why? That’s what greenhouse operators find when they want to operate minimizing water input and/or losses.
Very good point.
One of THE biggest arguments against “global warming” from CO2 levels is plant evolution.
Almost all plants evolved to use C3 photosynthesis and it is best at 1000 to 2000 ppm CO2. That says those plants evolved for most of history in a high CO2 environment (or they would not be optimized for it… and dependent on it.) The “proposed” pre-modern industrial human CO2 level of about 200 ppm is near the CO2 starvation level of 180 ppm of those plants. The level where they die. We only ended up that low due to so much CO2 being “sequestered” in the soil and as coal / oil over millions of years. That is the “un-natural” level, per those plants.
Fairly recently in evolutionary history, a different photosynthesis pathway has evolved, the C4 pathway. It works in lower CO2 levels by concentrating the CO2 inside the cell (and IMHO is a response to our abnormally low levels by historical evolutionary standards).
Clearly life and the world did not end due to millions of years of 1000 ppm to 2000 ppm or even above that.
There is also CAM photosynthesis that works with low CO2 and low water availability. Seen in some desert plants and in particular kinds of swamp plants. It is a bit older as swamps have been around a long time and can get very low CO2 at times.
First off, notice that out of 4.5 Billion years of planet Earth, only in the last 60 million were plants stressed enough to make the C4 low CO2 adapted photosynthesis process. Then realize how harsh that pressure must have been for 62 separate evolutionary leaps to be made.
Note that the next article from USGS thinks it was not 60 million but closer to 20 or 30 million years ago, and that the big push of species expanstion might be as close as 4 to 7 million years ago. I.E. about the same time as human beings were just separating from our ape ancestors. Almost nothing in geologic time, and nearly as small in evolutionary time.
Both C4 and CAM “concentrate CO2”. You would not need to concentrate it were it already concentrated enough in the air… (or water for CAM swamp plants).
I’ve added some line breaks in the below quote to make it more readable. It was one giant oppressive block of text… I’ve also bolded some bits for emphasis on what I’m talking about.
Also, with abnormally low near death CO2 concentrations, daytime photosynthesis can essentially remove all available CO2 from the local air & water.
So basically, as recently as 7 million years ago (Ma) there was a lot more CO2 in the air, the world was happy, plants where loving it, and the first ancient Humans To Be were undergoing evolutionary stress as the forests of East Africa where they lived were drying and turning into Savanna, forcing them to walk and run on the ground, and shifting to more meat eating. Making us; the Carnivore / Omnivore runners of the plains in an increasingly CO2 starved world.
Optimum, I think, is near 1% carbon dioxide.
I can remember talking to some Dutch fruit & veg growers, using greenhouses and polytunnels all year. They were using waste heat and CO2 from a nearby power station. Not sure if they are allowed to do that any more.
as recently as 7 million years ago (Ma) there was a lot more CO2 in the air
No wonder there were giant forests, the veg-eating dinosaurs must have loved it.
Anyone familiar with the south coast of England can see where a lot of the CO2 went. Harvested by marine mini-creatures over millions of years, eventually dying and depositing chalk layers hundreds of feet deep. Now visible as cliffs hundreds of feet high. It’s another good light-bulb moment for climate-doom-junkies when you ask them : “where did all that chalk come from?”
Then explain the marine life-cycles.
Chalk is composed of the shells of such minute marine organisms as foraminifera, coccoliths, and rhabdoliths. The purest varieties contain up to 99 percent calcium carbonate in the form of the mineral calcite. The sponge spicules, diatom and radiolarian tests (shells), detrital grains of quartz, and chert nodules (flint) found in chalk contribute small amounts of silica to its composition. Small proportions of clay minerals, glauconite, and calcium phosphate also are present.
Extensive chalk deposits date from the Cretaceous Period (145.5 million to 65.5 million years ago), the name of which is derived from the Latin word (creta) for chalk. Such deposits occur in western Europe south of Sweden and in England, notably in the chalk cliffs of Dover along the English Channel. Other extensive deposits occur in the United States from South Dakota south to Texas and eastward to Alabama.
Areas that used to be under water?
My own area used to be under water (I am in east central AL). There is a several hundred year remaining (and it has already been mined nearly 300 years) marble deposit containing some of the purest calcium carbonate found in the world. Water holds, when saturated, roughly 50 times the ambient carbon dioxide concentration, even if other sinks (such as diatoms, etc) are not active. Colder water holds more, warmer water holds less. There was someone named Henry who noticed this, if I am remembering correctly, and has a chemical “law” named for him.
There was a vast inland sea covering most of the middle of the USA. Like the North Sea, it had a lot of algae living in the warm shallows. Algae can be up to 50% vegetable oil (the little buggers keep on making it when the Nitrogen levels are too low to make proteins and divide into new cells, so they fill up with saved oil…). When they die and get buried in sediments, it turns into “petroleum oil”.
Basically, petroleum is not dead dinosaurs, a lot of it is dead algae. (There are also other sources).
Thus the Permian Basin in Texas as one of our great oil fields. Named for the period about 250 to 300 million years ago when it was deposited…
Prior to The Great Oxygen Catastrophe (about 1/2 Earth’s lifetime ago) pretty much all the C in hydrocarbons & coal along with the CO2 in carbonate rocks from ocean deposits; was in the air as CO2.
So what happens when you get a lot of sequestration of CO2? Collapse of plants.
The only reason we are not all dead now is because subduction via plate tectonics decomposes hydrocarbons, coal, carbonate rocks, and ocean ditritus that gets down into the lava layer; and that CO2 is dumped back into the air / ocean via volcanoes, to feed the plants. Without it, plants would suck down and sequester all the CO2 to levels where they die. Then the animals die.
There are historical records from The Little Ice Age showing crops that would barely grow (even in warmer areas) and where you might get a dozen grains of wheat from one planted (instead of the dozens and hundreds we get now per one planted). CO2 dissolves a lot better in very cold ice age water…
I think humanity was very close to another of those “forest collapse” events and it was our burning of fuels and especially things like coal and oil, that have enabled a huge increase in agricultural production.
BTW, after 4.5 Billion years of fission of heavy isotopes in the Earth core and mantle, we are likely near the point where the process is running out of fuel. When (and it is a when) that happens, the planet core solidifies and we stop making atmosphere. Then we become like Mars. Mars just got there faster since it is a lot smaller with less fuel.
I’d also assert that the Faint Sun Paradox is easily solved if you figure the heat from inside the planet was a lot greater with a fresh fuel load than now at the end. So we were fission warmed when the sun was 25% more dim. This, IMHO, also explains why Jupiter and Saturn can radiate more energy than they get from the sun.
We are in a race condition to get off this rock and into space as a space faring species and it seems that only Elon “gets that”.
FWIW, I think this is also a partial answer to the Fermi Paradox. Intelligent Life only reached a technological level on this planet near the very end of the planet life cycle. Slightly smaller planets, or slightly less initial load of heavy radioactive elements (U, Th, etc.) and we would not have been warm enough for the early start. Then would have burned out before reaching this stage. Much bigger and we have a much harder time getting off of the planet with rockets. The early stage is even more volcanic and that lasts longer, cooking a lot of early life attempts and holding off any oxygenation event. Basically, a Rare Earth hypothesis seasoned with a race condition of supernova fusion fuel in the planetary cores. So you need just the right balance of previous supernova providing elements, just the right sun composition and size for longer solar life, and just the right planet sizes and compositions to get a nice long warm wet life as the star evolves… and get intelligent life evolved soon enough to develop space travel before it all collapses… on a not-too-big and not-too-small planet..
So you need just the right… everything.
Reminds me of Paul Davies’ book – “The Goldilocks Enigma” or “Cosmic Jackpot”
In Cosmic Jackpot, Davies argues that certain universal fundamental physical constants are precisely adjusted to make life in the Universe possible: that we have, in a sense, won a “cosmic jackpot,” and that conditions are “just right” for life, as in The Story of the Three Bears. As Davies writes elsewhere, “There is now broad agreement among physicists and cosmologists that the universe is in several respects ‘fine-tuned’ for life.
It’s the kind of book that germinates lots of seed-ideas even in extremely old minds (like mine) ;-)
@EM and Keth. Thanks for the enlightenment.
E.M. @ May 25.5.26.
Re sequestration and shortage of carbon, I luved yr post “Get Wood” forget where/when…. are you able to post a link to it? Thx.
E.M. Thank you, that is the one. Ask yr permission post it
Feel free. Links encouraged, but lots of quotes to get the message out is more important.
The simple fact is that a little math makes it clear that plants suck down all the CO2 in the air until limited at low levels. Volcanoes (and out gassing from the oceans that also are fed by volcanoes and mid ocean ridges) are the only things keeping the entire ecosystem alive by freeing CO2 from the rocks and ocean bottom junk.
Getting more people to understand that is a positive good.
Thx E.M. What I like about Get Wood, is the vivid image of the
sequestration process in naychur that it presents and then the maths.
It’s compellingly clear. :)
EM – though OT for germinating seeds, the Rare Earth might also require a relatively large Moon to provide high-enough tides to concentrate the chemical brew trapped in tidal pools. A bit of stirring the broth.
Given that our Earth (and life) so far seems to be pretty rare, having a cheap method to get to Space looks rather important, plus of course there are all those asteroids around for mining materials once you’ve got there. Thus it’s probably get off this rock and spread around, or die out. There’s always the (actually incalculable) risk of an asteroid strike wiping us out, or at least causing immense damage – the Biblical story of the Flood is also in quite a few other ancient stories from other traditions.
On June 10th there will be a test in space of the IVO drive: https://finance.yahoo.com/news/ivo-ltd-launch-quantum-drive-100000456.html . OK, it’ll need further development to lift something from ground level, but once it’s proven to work for real that will happen. Once we can do that, it’ll take a day or two to get to Mars. Interstellar travel will still be many years, though, without some other new physics, so then we’ll need the techniques to ensure germination of seeds that have been stored a long time. Aha! Back on-topic….
@Simon Derricutt: “the Rare Earth might also require a relatively large Moon to provide high-enough tides to concentrate the chemical brew trapped in tidal pools. A bit of stirring the broth.”
If it is correct that the Moon was created by a grazing impact with Earth by a Mars sized proto-planet, then we also need a Moon which grazed off much of the crust. The thinned crust is what allows tectonic recycling to go on longer than usual before crustal lockup (as on Venus).
If what’s reported about lunar regolith, which is that it is silicate rich, that seems to be the case. We have not been able to drill into it much. Earth’s solid crust is only a few miles thick, roughly 20; with some places thinner and others thicker. We have drilled completely through it, if reports are correct.
TTN – interesting thing is that if you have two colliding bodies, *something else*has to carry off excess momentum to enable the end result to be one body orbiting the other. If of course it’s a close encounter without a collision, then such capture is not possible without a third body to take away excess momentum, though you can speculate on a grazing hit and the detritus of the collision carrying the momentum off (puts a narrow bound on accuracy of the hit, so gets far less probable). If the planet that collided with the Earth was too large, then you’d expect the orbit to be very much affected and to become much more elliptical.
For me, therefore, the various “collision” stories of how the Moon came about don’t match the evidence of what we see today. Any interaction with some other body must conserve both linear and angular momentum, and with only two bodies involved you either get a hyperbolic path for both (and the orbit of the Earth becoming more elliptical) or a collision with the orbit becoming a lot more elliptical. With the Earth’s orbit eccentricity being currently around 0.0167, so difference in distance from the Sun varying by around 3.4% over the year, it looks like the “other body” that produced the Moon must have been pretty small, so maybe more likely that the Earth and Moon condensed out of the same swirl of material as all the other planets condensed too.
I suppose the biggest question here is why the Earth and most planets have orbits so near circular.
@Simon Derricutt: “*something else*has to carry off excess momentum to enable the end result to be one body orbiting the other. ”
Yes, absolutely. Of course the lack of perfectly elastic planets makes that harder to model, but easier to get rid of energy. My suspicion is that a really good model and a supercomputer would be needed to make much headway on the problem. I can see several avenues all contributing to dumping enough energy. First is, exactly what orbits are involved in the collision? Is one body coming up from behind the other, ie, are they both in similar orbits so that the collision is lower velocity? Or are they BANGING in some other, much higher speed collision? How much energy is dumped by the pulverization of a billion cubic miles of rock? How much energy is radiated out? And remember that a collision of this magnitude is going to be putting out radiation all the way up to the X-ray range; maybe gamma rays. Once you have a cloud of rock in space, it will act in some ways like a gas. Random interactions are going to leave a distribution of velocities for the chunks. The ones on the high end of the curve will shoot off, some on longer term orbits, some on hyperbolic paths that never come back — but either way, both the total and the average momentum is lowered for the debris cloud. Meanwhile the lower velocity population will be hanging around for capture. This is not a simple problem… but yes, SOMETHING has to move a LOT of momentum out of the system, and certainly a lot of that will be as ejected mass. In this case, 3+1=3.5 plus .5 going quickly elsewhere.
TTN – yep, dumping the energy is pretty easy, but it’s the momentum that’s the tricky bit.
The recent DART test of slamming a rocket into an asteroid shows the problem nicely. Because of the small size of the rocket relative to the asteroid, lots of ejecta came out from the asteroid and the momentum change on the asteroid was around 5x the momentum of the rocket (the other 4x went into the ejected stuff in the opposite direction to the input rocket). NASA call this “momentum enhancement”.
Given the much wider range of elliptical orbits relative to an almost-circular one, any momentum change on a planet is more likely to make the orbit more elliptical than to make it more circular. In a system with many planets, a widely-elliptical orbit of one or more is going to be unstable, I think, and near-circular orbits will be the only stable system. I’d expect planets with widely elliptical orbits to be ejected at some point.
Overall, this makes the probability of a collision forming the Moon look extremely unlikely, I think. If the initial orbit of the Earth was elliptical enough to hit something else, it wouldn’t have lasted long in that orbit and was far more likely to be ejected than to achieve a near-circular orbit as a result of a collision.
AFAIK, no-one has yet sorted out a calculation for gravitation for 3 or more bodies, so you need to run a numeric calculation using timesteps to calculate the orbits. Smaller the timesteps used, the more accurate the simulation. I read a while back that such simulations of real planetary systems always end up with the system falling apart – maybe the timesteps chosen were not small enough and thus not accurate enough, or maybe it’s actually real and planetary systems have a definite lifetime. Of course, there’s also the geometric problem that the gravitational attraction deviates from the theoretical inverse-square law as you get close-enough to it that it can no longer be regarded as a point attractor, but has a significant solid angle subtended. This dependence of actual attraction on the shape and density of the gravitational body probably explains why the various experiments used to determine G disagree by more than the estimated error bounds. Most fundamental constants are known to around 10 decimal places, but G only to around 5.
Hey, I nitpick stuff a lot.
@Simon Derricutt: “Because of the small size of the rocket relative to the asteroid, lots of ejecta came out from the asteroid and the momentum change on the asteroid was around 5x the momentum of the rocket (the other 4x went into the ejected stuff in the opposite direction to the input rocket). NASA call this “momentum enhancement”.”
Really?! How cool. I had not heard of that at all. Seems very counter intuitive.
“In a system with many planets, a widely-elliptical orbit of one or more is going to be unstable, I think, and near-circular orbits will be the only stable system. ”
I don’t know if you ever visited a science blog called Tallbloke’s Talkshop”.
For some reason I drifted away from there about five or ten years ago — but there used to be a lot of articles and discussion on orbital resonance between planets and moons. Call it a simple hunch, but I wonder whether resonance is somehow responsible for circularizing orbits. Most astronomers know about the resonances of Jupiter’s Galilean moons, but these guys were finding all sorts of resonance between rotational periods as well as orbital periods. I seem to remember that there were even resonances between the Earth-Venus-Mercury trio. Doing just a quick search, this turned up:
” Of course, there’s also the geometric problem that the gravitational attraction deviates from the theoretical inverse-square law as you get close-enough to it that it can no longer be regarded as a point attractor, but has a significant solid angle subtended. ”
Ha! That is one of my favorite bits of physics! I think you are the only other person I have ever heard mention that! The same thing turns up in near field equations for antennas — but how many people think about the gravitational case for the same thing? A point source gives 1/r^2. An infinite rod (or merely REALLY long in the real world as long as you are closer than the length of the rod) gives 1/r^1, ie 1/r. An infinite plan gives 1/r^0 — which is to say a constant acceleration no matter how far away you are. Now it gets interesting. Suppose you have an infinite 3D lattice of bodies or something approximating it. That should give 1/r^-1, ie, wherever you start from there is a repulsive force which increases with distance. Expanding universe, anyone? On the other hand, how do you keep globular clusters from spitting out their stars?
Simon, you always make me think! (Of course I am not always RIGHT when I think, but I still enjoy the experience.)
A large moon does several good things. Stabilizes the planet with respect to tumble, for one thing. Then tides, yes, both water and other tidal effects. Would a technical society survive on a water world like ours if every so often the planet tipped over and the oceans got sloshed over all the land?…
I wonder if advanced life can only evolved on binary planet systems…. (I consider our moon best described as a sister planet, as argued by Newton).
@TTN (per thin crust): Ooohh! Good one.
TTN – see https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2022/11/221101100742.htm for a report on DART that mentions momentum enhancement. One of those things that you’d initially think “nah” but once you’ve seen it it’s obvious. Another interesting thing is that no matter what the hit angle is, a crater ends up circular.
I’d read that Tallbloke article before, too. Also interesting, and a lot of work involved in calculating all the ratios and finding that they are whole numbers. The cyclic changes in eccentricity of the orbits is now mainstream-enough that the Wiki entry on orbital eccentricity mentions it. Given that tidal effects on a planet will also vary with that, the implication is that volcanism also has cycles, and thus will affect climate cycles too.
For quite a while now I’ve been following MikeMcCulloch ( https://physicsfromtheedge.blogspot.com/ ) since his equations use experimental values and contain no fudge-factors, yet work well at predicting what actually happens. Size matters when it comes to the universe. One prediction here is that gravity does not follow Newton’s inverse square law exactly, but asymptotes to a “minimum possible acceleration quantum” of around 2e-10m/s² (and that depends on the current size of the universe). That explains the galactic rotation anomaly without needing to hypothesise Dark Matter.
Though Mike’s explanation of inertia also works, and predicts the ability to produce a “reactionless” drive (that is, it doesn’t eject mass to produce a reactive force) there is a logical recursion problem in there that few people notice even when it’s pointed out. That problem is with any explanation that uses waves, since in order to support a wave we need an analogue of springiness and an analogue of inertia built into whatever supports the wave, otherwise the wave can’t exist. The wave propagation rate depends on the ratio between the springiness and the inertia. Thus, even though the equations work out, there’s some deeper explanation still to come.
Still, going into the infinite matrix of matter and the gravitational effects produced, that 1/r^-1 is in fact just r, but I haven’t considered that before. Force increases as r, but it would be an attractive force. However, since that would only apply while you were inside that volume, there’s actually no number you can plug in for r here, so it’s indeterminate (and would in fact sum to zero for an infinite volume). While you are some distance from an infinite plane, r is easy to state. Still, bearing in mind that this works for gravity being exactly an inverse square, and that relationship breaks down for both short distances and huge ones, might be some higher-order deviations from a null result.
Fun orbit: consider a toroid of matter, spinning on its axis for stability. A planet on that axis would have an “orbit” of a straight line along the axis. Off-axis, the orbit would become figure-of-eight.
Sometimes we find something experimentally we can’t explain, and try different explanations till we find some that work, sometimes it’ll be a new theory that drives looking for an experimental effect. Might be found, might not.
EM – stabilising the planet. Maybe https://demonstrations.wolfram.com/DzhanibekovEffect/ which could be a nasty event to go through, but then there’s a Bible description of the Sun standing still in the sky for a while and then setting in the same place it rose. Maybe somewhere else nearer the ocean, at the same time, people experienced a big flood. Dating ancient stories can be difficult, after all. According to current theory though, the Moon used to be a lot closer, and the energy in that orbit has been gradually dissipated in the tides. IIRC the Moon’s orbit is getting around 3mm further out each year at the moment, since it’s been measured after the Moon landing by a laser reflection from a box reflector left behind, using an observatory in Texas.
Might have taken longer to work out celestial mechanics if we hadn’t had the Moon as a visible example. Then again, without the Moon, we might not have evolved at all.
Funding appeal: Mike McCulloch needs your help to make interstellar travel possible.
@Simon Derricutt: “For quite a while now I’ve been following MikeMcCulloch ”
Same here — and right or wrong, I like the simplicity of his theory. No handwaving, no miracles, and no “dark matter”. Very bright guy! It’s hard to think simply when everyone else if getting more and more mysterious.
Speaking of cases where gravitational attraction does NOT go according to inverse r^2, here is a link to a short article showing that for an infinite plane, attraction is a constant, no matter what r is. (IE, r^0).
The demo for an infinite rod where attraction goes by inverse of r (IE, R^1) is similar, but there is a pretty easy thought experiment to show why that is. Imagine you are at some r above an infinite rod. Draw some small angle theta from you, directly to the rod. That angle subtends some amount of mass m, and that mass has some gravitational attraction to you. Now double r so you are twice as far away. That original angle theta now subtends twice as much matter, so instead of the attraction dropping by four times (as would be expected from r^2), it only drops by half. The same thing happens no matter what you increase r by. The attraction always drops by r, not by r^2.
With an infinte disk, the increase in mass subtended by any the original angle always exactly cancels out the dimunition by r^2, so you end up with attraction being a constant, r^0.
Who was the Greek who said “give me a lever long enough and a place to stand and I will move the world!”? Maybe that’s the problem with infinite 3D objects. “Give me a 4th dimensional place to stand, and I will see which way gravity works with that infinite 3D mass!”
TTN – I came up with these relationships independently, though I can’t remember what led me down that rabbit-hole. In fact, though people use the idea of all the mass being concentrated at the centre of gravity (CoG) and then a 1/r² relationship to that CoG, it’s also realised that the actual gravitational force is the sum of all the atoms involved, so satellites map the gravitational force of the Earth to find density variations in it. Also it’s understood that the local “vertical” bends in a bit towards a large mountain or pyramid.
For Mike’s QI, looks like all the predictions are getting experimental verification or they match what’s already been observed. Maybe a problem in figuring out what that really means for how the universe works and what a particle is, but we can just use the formulae to make things that work and figure the rest later. Interesting thing at the moment is that it looks like Mike is now hinting that QI can be used to make energy, so maybe my comments over the years have had some effect. The logic for this is, I think, unassailable, and applies to any thruster that produces thrust without needing to eject mass to do it, but of course it’s a direct violation of Conservation of Energy and thus a heretical thought.
Thus the various “reactionless” space drives have a major application here on Earth, and once they have been further developed (more thrust, maybe more thrust per watt) will be able to produce energy anywhere 24/7 independent of weather and not needing fuel. That old dream may actually turn out to be true. Bit like waiting for a bus for hours, and then 3 come along, in that another friend working on exploiting the Meissner effect will probably succeed in making energy from *nothing* too. Logic looks good, just technically needs a lot of skills (which he has). Bottom line for any conservation law is “what symmetry does that rely on” and “can we break that symmetry?”.
Long way from germinating old seeds, but as I said we may need to get good at doing that if we travel to another star.
Vacationing, collected a huge Coulter pine cone not far inland from San Francisco around 1990 and set on a shelf above a fireplace back home in VA. Couple of moves later around 2005 was curious and noticed big seeds still in the cone. Planted a couple outdoors and 2 sprouted and grew! Unfortunately deer chewed both of them, tho they wouldn’t have survived long in MD’s climate.