Tuesday, September 25, 2007

A Little Hint From Your Mother

The abandoned town of Pripyat, the Chernobyl reactor in the background.

There has been an exciting new biological discovery inside the tomb of the Chernobyl reactor. Like out of some B-grade sci fi movie, a robot sent into the reactor discovered a thick coat of black slime growing on the walls. Since it is highly radioactive in there, scientists didn’t expect to find anything living, let alone thriving. The robot was instructed to obtain samples of the slime, which it did, and upon examination…the slime was even more amazing than was thought at first glance.

This slime, a collection of several fungi actually, was more than just surviving in a radioactive environment, it was actually using gamma radiation as a food source.
Samples of these fungi grew significantly faster when exposed to gamma radiation at 500 times the normal background radiation level.
The fungi appear to use melanin, a chemical found in human skin as well, in the same fashion as plants use chlorophyll.

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Good news: It seems it may be more difficult to destroy all life on earth than we had previously imagined.

Bad News: It seems as likely as ever that we may destroy us - and Mom already has contingency plans for our replacements.

1 comment:

MarkR said...

I personally visited the Chernobyl area for two days in June 2006 with a friend and former resident of Pripyat. We toured the Chernobyl Plant (including the Reactor 4 control room), several of the abandoned villages, and Pripyat. I have posted a photo journal of my trip at:

My Journey to Chernobyl: 20 Years After the Disaster



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