In the latest installment of our series Inside/In, short science stories for families and individuals who want to discover how the natural world ties us together even when we're stuck inside, we explore a pair of organisms that we often just step right over or immediately pitch into garbage.
Meet our friends, mold and moss.
Mold can be gross, and even dangerous to your health, But it can also be delicious. Cheesemakers want mold to colonize their cheese. The threads of mold snake through the cheese, breaking down, eating proteins and literally creating the flavors that many people have come to know and love as a byproduct.
Want to try your own mold experiment?
All you need is some bread and some plastic bags.
Dirty hands: Rub your unwashed hands on one piece of bread and then place it in a plastic bag with a little air. Seal it shut. Be sure to label it so you can keep track.
Clean hands: Give your hands a good scrub and rub your hands all over a second slice of bread. Place that bag in another bag. Seal it shut. Give that one a label as well.
Optional object: Rub another piece of bread over something else in your house - a door knob, the microwave or fridge handle. Give it a good rub and put that piece of bread in another bag. Seal it up.
Tape the bags up somewhere so you can watch what happens… and then wait.
When getting to know these tiny plants, it can be helpful to have a guide. A Visit to the Miniature Forest is available to download for free, and includes photos and descriptions of common types. Annie Martin's website Mountain Moss is also a great resource.
Where the Lilacs Grow
In some parts of the state, lilacs are in full, fragrant bloom, so it's the perfect time to revisit this tale of love, hubris, and flowers. This piece originally aired last May.
What To Do If You Experience Symptoms After a Tick Bite
This month, Taylor Quimby, host of the NHPR podcast Patient Zero, is bringing us straightforward advice on tick-borne diseases. In the final installment, he explores what to do if you experience symptoms after a tick bite -- and how the coronavirus pandemic is changing the landscape of diagnosis and research for Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses.