Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Shrooms harnessing Radiactive Energy

What's blooming inside the perilous depths of the Chernobyl reactor?

Sitting at the centre of the exclusion zone, the damaged reactor unit is encased in a steel and cement sarcophagus. It's a deathly tomb that plays host to about 200 tonnes of melted radioactive fuel, and is swarming with radioactive dust.

But it's also the abode of some very hardy fungi which researchers believe aren't just tolerating the severe radiation, but actually harnessing its energy to thrive.

Radiation-loving fungi may also prove useful, according to Dadachova. Their melanin gene, she said, might eventually be popped into food crops and used to help growth in difficult regions. And astronauts on long spaceflights might one day find a useful, self-replenishing diet in black, melanin-rich fungi.

And because the fungi don't actually 'eat' radioactive material, but simply use the energy it radiates, Dadachova said, they're in no danger of becoming radioactive themselves. Read on here.

The questions on everybody's minds are obviously:
1. Are they edible? ("1. All fungi are edible. 2. Some fungi are not edible more than once." Terry Pratchett)
2. Are they Hallucinogenic? (And if they are, what are the chances of me ever coming back?!)
3. WHERE CAN I GET SOME? (I'm not going into that reactor, and I'm just kidding too ;p)

More seriously though (not much), check out McKenna's views on a possible space travelling mushroom.


Anonymous said...

remember the guy that cleans up brown zones with mycellium in burlap sacks, he just drops off a load near an oil spill and the mushrooms clean the earth. This reminds me of that, one more way mushrooms can correct our mistakes.
I'm guessing the radiation levels will lower b/c of the shrooms.

dedroidify said...

Paul Stamets, yeah he crossed my mind too. Don't know if they lower radiation levels, as they don't seem to "eat" but harness it.