Scientists have been studying an extremophile fungus growing at the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone for years. This fungus apparently grows toward radiation the way plants grow toward sunlight. It consumes the radiation and uses it for energy, like little power plants!
How can this fungus process radiation in this way? Because it has tons of very dark melanin pigment that absorbs radiation and processes it in a harmless way to produce energy. Scientists believe this mechanism could be used to make biomimicking substances that both block radiation from penetrating and turn it into a renewable energy source.
Chernobyl is a special case where extreme ambient radiation is a huge danger to anyone who enters, and having a “radiation blocker” to treat protective suits or even the entire inside of the plant to reduce ambient radiation could be a huge boon. Besides reducing danger, though, the world is filled with machinery and devices that safely use radiation, from medicine to manufacturing. Even low levels of contained radiation could be used to make energy that could reduce the energy burden of those devices.
Materials made of this fungus could also be useful to shield spacecraft from radiation. Read more about this discovery at Popular Mechanics.-Thanks, WTM!
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