You Should Know About This Chernobyl Fungus That Eats Radiation

POPULAR MECHANICS

It could shield us from deadly rays.

A fungus observed inside Chernobyl is a radiation extremophile that could inspire new technology.

Removing radiation and even turning it into energy could help clean disaster sites and enable spaceflight.

The fungi use high amounts of melanin to both resist radiation and turn it into energy.

Scientists have discovered that a longtime fungal resident of the Chernobyl complex could actually “eat” radiation. In an upcoming paper, scientists will share the results of growing the fungus on the International Space Station.BScientists have known about this fungus, and similar extremophile organisms that can thrive on radiation, since at least 2007. The variety found in Chernobyl “can decompose radioactive material such as the hot graphite in the remains of the Chernobyl reactor,” Nature said in 2007. The fungus grows toward the hottest and most radioactive places, like phototropism but for deadly toxins.

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