Fungi & Psilocybin Are Just Outta Space Says Scientific American

CANNANNEW REPORT

Best mushroom story of the week… Future Space Travel Might Require Mushrooms Mycologist Paul Stamets discusses the potential extraterrestrial uses of fungi, including terraforming planets, building human habitats—and providing psilocybin therapy to astronauts Here’s the introduction to a very enjoyable read The list of mycologists whose names are known beyond their fungal field is short, and at its apex is Paul Stamets. Educated in, and a longtime resident of, the mossy, moldy, mushy Pacific Northwest region, Stamets has made numerous contributions over the past several decades— perhaps the best summation of which can be found in his 2005 book Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World. But now he is looking beyond Earth to discover new ways that mushrooms can help with the exploration of space. In a new “astromycological” venture launched in conjunction with NASA, Stamets and various research teams are studying how fungi can be leveraged to build extraterrestrial habitats and perhaps someday even terraform planets. This is not the first time Stamets’s career has intersected with speculative space science. He also recently received an honor that many researchers would consider only slightly less hallowed than a Nobel Prize: the distinction of having a Star Trek character named after him. Scientific American spoke with Stamets about the out-of-this-world implications for the emerging field of astromycology. [An edited transcript of the interview follows.] First, a chicken-or-egg question: Did Star Trek: Discovery name a character after you because you had started exploring astromycology, or was the idea for astromycology inspired by Star Trek? CBS got ahold of me and said the writers of Star Trek wanted to talk to me: “We’re in the dungeon, there’s about a dozen of us, we’ve been tasked with Star Trek: Discovery, we’re hitting a brick wall, and we saw your TED Talk.” I had mentioned terraforming other planets with fungi. What separates Star Trek from…

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