Tech Development for SF

19/05/2019 – Some Science is Left Behind in Science Fiction

I’ve installed an oxygen generator in my house – it’s called buying a mother-in-law’s tongue plant and placing it on the window sill. The plant also has the advantages of removing airborne

  • benzene – commonly used solvent and is also present in many basic items including gasoline, inks, oils, paints plastics, and rubber. In addition, it is used in the manufacture of detergents, pharmaceuticals, and dyes.
  • formaldehyde – found in virtually all indoor environments. The major sources, which have been reported and publicised, include urea-formaldehyde foam insulation (UFFI) and particle board or pressed-wood products. Consumer paper products, including grocery bags, waxed papers, facial tissues, and paper towels, are treated with urea- formaldehyde (UF) resins. Many common household cleaning agents contain formaldehyde. UF resins are used as stiffeners, wrinkle resisters, water repellants, fire retardants, and adhesive binders in floor covering, carpet backing, and permanent-press clothes. Other sources of formaldehyde include cigarette smoke and heating and cooking fuels such as natural gas and kerosene.
  •  trichloroethylene – Over 90 percent produced is used in the metal degreasing and dry-cleaning industries, but it is also used in printing inks, paints, lacquers, varnishes, and adhesives.

The original study was done by NASA in 1989 – don’t believe me? Well check this out. 

Based on a newspaper article I gave a small talk to my local Women’s Institute in 1990. They politely listened is all I’m going say. I think if I gave that same talk today, they might be more interested.


Note: Mother-in-Law’s Tongue is also known as the Snake Plant!

Of course more plants have been identified to help reduce pollution in the air… which makes it easier for people to set up their own air purification system.

Recently there have been a spate of news items about how air pollution is affecting our health. Some deal with the harmful nitrogen dioxide pollution from car fumes. Guess what? Mother-in-law’s Tongue does that as well! (So does the Areca Palm, which has the added advantage of not being toxic to cats and dogs.)

Wouldn’t it be nice to set up a system of placing these plants by the roadside to help reduce such pollution? Of course, they couldn’t stay out in the cold weather and would have to have some sort of protection. But even so, you would think that some sort whizz scientist would have set up an experiment by now to measure the beneficial effects.

What bothers me is

  • the seeming lack of interest in this potential solution
  • I haven’t seen any science studies looking into the genetics of plants to improve their air purifying quality
  • I haven’t found any science fiction stories that cover this topic.

The last would be so helpful in spreading the word. And it could make for a positive progressive science fiction story that would be about something different publishers have not seen before – and therefore make them more interested in buying it.

So what are you SF writers waiting for?