FGU Outtakes: 9 Awesome World Things You Should Know About

This time, a happier post.

Most of you should be aware by now that I have been busily beavering away on FGU, or From The Ground Up as it’s more properly know. If not, you’re either new, or have been tuning me out with remarkable efficacy 😛 In the first instance, HI WELCOME NICE TO MEET YOU!! And in the second, it’s safe to come out again now: THE BOOK IS DONE.

Oh my gosh, the book is DONE. SO. MUCH. RELIEF. Mostly from my editor, who, when I blew my second deadline, was I’m pretty sure determined I was never going to finish. Sorry. *cookies for editor*. I got it in before the hard deadline. That’s a good thing, right? O:)

But anyway, long-story-short, I’ve spent the last year doing all sorts of research for FGU, and a lot of it didn’t end up fitting into the book. So for your daily dose of random today, Awesome Things I Learned While Writing FGU That You Should Learn Too! *o/*

1) There are social spiders. These spiders live in colonies that have two distinct roles: the warriors/food trappers, and the nurturers/offspring rearers. Shockingly enough, these spiders have the whole anti-discrim thing a lot more down-pat than humans do: every spider chooses its occupation, warrior or nurturer, based on its personality. You guys. That’s just seriously COOL.

2) Swarming has long been a source of bafflement, for scientists and anyone else who bothered to stop and think about it: How do all these individual creatures know where they’re going? How do they change directions so suddenly and all together? How do they determine when to swarm? Why do they swarm? WHAT IS THIS MYSTICAL SENSE? Turns out that the answer, at least in locusts, is to avoid cannibalism. Don’t believe me? This article explains it perfectly.

3) On a similar note, collectives of individuals often display this thing called ‘collective intelligence’ – the group as a whole is more intelligent than the individuals it contains (yes, this is a Thing, despite humanity often proving the opposite, that a group of people can be a whole lot stupider than its individuals :P). Schooling fish demonstrate this by a school’s ability to seek out shade, even though individual fish are really, really BAD at being able to get from areas of light to areas of dark.

4) If you’ve been following along on Twitter, you’ll have heard me freak out a couple of times that fungi are really just brainless insects with an external digestive system. (True facts. Fungi have waaay more in common with insects than plants. Oh the terror.) Well, it turns out that when you combine certain species of fungi with certain species of leaf-cutter ants, you get… a cow? Well, not actually a cow, but together the two totally separate species work together to mimic the digestive processes of a cow and its saliva/host of enzymes and bacteria. The ants literally use the fungus as their external digestive system, and the fungus uses the ants as saliva. BIZARRE.

5) Hexaflexagons. I have no words. Just… go watch the short video clip already.

6) Allow me to introduce you to the Anternet. Yep, scientists have discovered that behaviours ant colonies demonstrate (particularly when it comes to showing restraint in their gathering behaviours) are remarkably similar to internet protocols. Can humans think of nothing for themselves? 😀

7) One of the most exciting things for me was learning about all the things we still don’t have an answer to. It’s so easy, in our contemporary society, to assume that we have all the answers; that everything there is to be discovered has been; that there’s nothing new left in the world – or the universe. Happily, this is very untrue, and so: 13 things we still have basically no clue about.

8) You’ve probably heard theories that the Earth is close to carrying capacity, and that we’re going to run out of room. Well, I’ve got some good news for you: the population of the Earth is expected to stabilise as early as the middle of this century. Take a look at what the break down is expected to be.

9) And a reminder that was timely at some points during the writing process: Sleep is a Competitive Advantage. Get more of it.

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