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Great Posts and Interesting Discussions

Arrhenius? Eureka! Mycorrhiza...

Sariel's comments about posts are added in green.

A lot of ideas have been bandied about concerning the inscription on the metal plate found by F'nor in Fort Weyr.

"Mother's father's father, who departed for all time between, said this was the key to the mystery,  and it came to him while doodling: he said that he said: ARRHENIUS? EUREKA! MYCORRHIZA ... [illegible] ... Flamethrowing fire-lizards to wipe out the spores.   Q.E.D."

A fairly thorough and understandable treatment of this inscription occurs in the Atlas of Pern (AoP) section about the Red Star.  I have a copy of the relevant passage.   One key idea given in the AoP passage, is that Arrhenius refers to a Swedish colonel who speculated that light waves could push small particles (such as spores) around in space.
It also helps to know what Q.E.D. means--it's an abbreviation of a Latin phrase, quod erat demonstrandum, that translates roughly as "which was to be demonstrated."   In this case, it probably refers to the fact that ways to destroy Thread were to be found.
It still doesn't answer everyone's questions/concerns about the passage, so I'm including some of the more interesting ideas below.

Vivienne Smythe, 9/13/98

Myco- a prefix used in biology when discussing fungi (mushrooms).
Mycorrhiza - "a fungal mycelium investing or penetrating the underground parts of a higher plant and supplying it with material from humus instead of root-hairs."
????????  I suspect this is another example of AM's vagaries re science.
However, fungi reproduce via spores, and the examination of the Oort cloud shows the alleged "spores" containing Thread. This may be one association. Also,   "supplying with material from humus instead of root-hairs" may mean that the Eureka applies to a discovery of how the Thread ingests material on the surface of Pern.  This understanding would be vital to developing something to combat Thread.
You are probably even more confused now.  Join the club.

Lena, 9/14/98

As I'm sure you're aware, 'eureka' is simply ancient Greek for 'I've got it'. Basically, Tubberman is saying, "I've got it!   Thread is a mycorrhizoid (sp?) life form!"[once you read the bit from AoP, you'll see it was more like "I've got it! Arrehenius's theory is true!]
I believe that it had more to do with his research with the grubs than with the cats.   By identifying Thread as mycorrhizoid, he was able to engineer the grubs to attack it. [Yup, definitely has nothing to do with the felines he was breeding, and may very well have led him to develop the grubs.]
In Annie-science, anyway. <g> [but, of course!]

Brennan, 9/14/98

Micorrhiza has to do with fungus supplying plants with nutrition that they themselves may not be able to reach with roots.  I think that Ted is talking about the grubs acting in a micorrhizoid
fashon.  Thus the plants are getting better nutrients in the soil making them bigger in southern.  That also explains how th clip ties in with ted's grubs.  Eureka (I've got it!) Mycorrhiza (something that wil help the plants).  [I don't think this is what's meant--but maybe the Southern Continent soil is more fertile because of what grubs excrete after eating thread? In the AoP passage, it's said that mycorrhiza in a symbiotic relationship to plants helps them grow bigger/stronger, so it seems reasonable that the grubs help alter Thread to a form useful to plants.]
Also  on a side note,  that might also be why they destroy thread.  I can't quite remember exactly the area, but in Dragonsdawn, I think they said that thread was mycorrhiza.  it was when they had some in the tank for viewing and examining , I think.  Anyway if they're along the same line of mycorrhiza the grubs might be a parasite or predetor mycorrhiza.   Meaning biological warfare.  In fungus type things. Gee, biology is in areas you would never expect! [Again, grubs are not mycorrhiza, but they are certainly predators of the space-faring mycorrhiza (Thread).  It is some low-down, dirty bio-warfare, changing Thread from parasite to symbiont!]

Daniel B. Wheeler, 9/19/98

When Ann McC started working on the dragonrider series the world had just heard about the importance of mycorrhizal fungi. Without these fungi, over 90% of plant life on earth would cease to exist.
There are some obvious lapses of science in viewing thread as mycorrhizal: thread damages plants, burrows into soil, destroying crops. These are indications of parasitic fungi, not mycorrhizal fungi. Mycorrhizal fungi require plants to survive; parasitic fungi survive by degrading cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin. [Maybe, maybe not.   According to AoP, mycorrhiza are distinguished by their ability to decompose organic residues.  It seems reasonable to me that this ability could be used in either a symbiotic relationship which decomposes organic matter and passes the nutrients to plants, or in a parasitical manner, decomposing organic matter for it's own use.   But I'm not a biologist...]
Nonetheless, the dragonrider series does have that fascinating aspect to it as the first book, either in science or science fiction which addressed the importance of fungi to life as it is currently known on earth (and possibly elsewhere). It has been suggested that mycorrhizal fungi spores might survive extreme drought and heat for many years. But to my knowledge this theory has not been tested.

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