46

When her allergies flare, she blames words stuffed in her genome by her too-trendy parents: social media links and the full text of Hamlet.

Synthetic biologists at Harvard University have successfully encoded movies into e. coli DNA using the microbial immune system CRISPR–Cas. While the system itself is limited to one frame per cell, the potential of this discovery to create live recordings from brain cells lends itself to sci-fi worthy of a Black Mirror episode. Hal Y. Zhang takes this discovery and renders it through the lens of a world obsessed with IVF and adapting our children. What will happen when parents can edit DNA? // Alex Massey

//Hal Y. Zhang thinks DNA tattoos will be the next big thing.//

45

Altair was born a star. “She shines!” all said. But she tripped through life, feeling factory-made, dust bland, unsure what she was made of.

Until recently, scientists thought that the massive explosions of supernovae would completely destroy any molecules and dust that were already present. Recent developments in the study of the cosmic ‘dust factory’ of Supernova 1987A suggest that the aftermath of the death of stars could lead to similar conditions to those seen in a stellar nursery. Sierra July weaves this discovery with ever-familiar imposter syndrome and the haunting sense that every atom is re-used. // Alex Massey

//Sierra July @sierrajuly is a University of Florida graduate, published writer, and poet. She blogs at talestotellinpassing.blogspot.com.//

43

We put everything into the ark – our seeds, our stories, our lives, our futures. But the waters kept rising, and still we drowned.

‘But no matter how well-informed you are, you are surely not alarmed enough.’ Sara L. Uckelman writes inspired by recent science on climate change and the flooding of the Global Seed Vault. The dangers of climate change are now a well-established reality. Aggressive action is required by all countries on Earth to try and slow the progression, yet, this may not even be enough to prevent devastating weather in the 21st century. //Alex Massey

//Dr. Sara L. Uckelman is a lecturer in logic and philosophy of language at Durham University by day and a writer of speculative fiction by night.  She has short stories forthcoming with Hic Dragones and Pilcrow & Dagger.//

Flash Fiction Contest: Bees

A few weeks ago, I ran a Twitter poll to decide our next themed story competition! Abuzz with excitement, our readers selected a much loved creature… BEES! I’m very pleased to announce that we have found two guest judges and will be running this contest in alignment with the dates of Australia’s National Science Week (12-20 August).

Concern over global bee numbers has lead to a surge in research interest over the past 20 years. It has also attributed to an increase in amateur beekeeping, particularly in Western Australia. The WA Apiarists’ Society, the peak body for hobby beekeepers, has seen numbers grow from 46 members in 2007 to more than 800 in 2017.

Our Judges

Dr. Clint Perry, a Marie Curie postdoctoral fellow at Queen Mary University of London, uses integrative neurobiology to explore the cognitive capacities of insects and the underlying mechanisms of memory, learning and emotion. His recent works include teaching bees to roll balls, and exploring positive emotions in bumblebees, which gained worldwide media attention.

Dr. Eirik Sovik is an associate professor at Volda University College. He studies the function of biogenic amine systems in insects and their relation to reward processing. Some of his recent works include exploring culture in bumblebees, and the underlying mechanisms of colony collapse in honeybees. He can be found on Twitter @EirikSovik.

The topic: Bees

We want your best micro-fiction, 140 characters or less, inspired by research on Bees. Robot bees, cyberpunk bees, gritty film noir bees that are addicted to substances – we want them all. Go forth and research!

Criteria

  1.  It must be based on topics/research relevant to BEES. The more recent the research, the better. We will judge a great story with science from a few years ago  over an alright story with a study published yesterday.
  2. If the story is about BEES but the research provided is generic educational info, it will not be awarded a placing or honorable mention.
  3. The story has to be able to stand on it’s own – the science can provide context/make it more interesting, but it should not rely heavily on the science to be entertaining.

Prizes

Like our Antarctic Flash Fiction Contest, we will be selecting 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place entrants, with 1 honorable mention per judge.

We will paying the placed winners at the rate of $5 per story. If you are happy to waive this prize, we will donate this amount to a bee conservation organisation.

Submission Timelines

Submissions open 9AM AEST Saturday August 12th 2017.
Submissions close 9AM 9PM AEST Monday August 14th 2017 (extended after a scheduling error on Twitter).
Results will be announced 1PM Sunday August 20th 2017 and the winning stories will be published over the week of August 21st 2017.

See our submissions page for how to submit and information on payments and copyrights.

 

42

The sugar substitute cured disease in the lab. It escaped into the atmosphere, and the rain destroyed all microbial life.

Researchers at the University of New Haven are conducting trials to see if stevia can be used to treat Lyme Disease. While a past study has provided positive results, this research has not yet hit the clinical trial stage. James L. Steele takes this research and combines it with our fear of sugar substitutes – if they can kill microbes, is the world next? // Alex Massey

// James L. Steele always takes his tea unsweetened.  Visit his twitter @JLSteeleauthor and his blog DaydreamingInText.blogspot.com//

41

Ultrasonic smart sensors in our ears allowed us to listen to bats on their terms. They asked for more funding for the national parks.

The Internet of Wild Things has been set up in London. Smart bat sensors have been installed at 15 sites across Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, allowing researchers to study the life of bats in unprecedented detail. Jaz Twersky wonders if one day, we’ll be able to wear this technology and communicate with bats directly. Recent developments in sensor technology suggest that while we may not be able to understand them, we could one day feel ultrasonic vibrations through spray-on sensors. //Alex Massey

//@WordNerdKnitter is a student, journalist, Editor-in-Chief @Triton_News, & knitter. She loves seeing Jewish & queer people in fiction.//

40

The pack is just out of reach, resting on its wormstrip. Shadow in a bend of the shaft holds back my salvation. Awaiting sunrise and no clouds.

Research into self-propulsion by inanimate objects without the use of a mechanic system has been common over the past decade. Recently, scientists at Eindhoven University of Technology and Kent State University have developed a new material that propels itself forward under the influence of light. Harold Gross casts this discovery into a chase scene, full of shadows and sunrise. // Alex Massey

//Harold Gross has been a professional actor and a computer professional for many years. His writing has appeared in F&SF, Analog, on Pseudopod.org, as well as in several anthologies and magazines in the US and UK.//