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Re: [Aroid-l] OT: Fungi that eat ionizing radiation?

  • Subject: Re: [Aroid-l] OT: Fungi that eat ionizing radiation?
  • From: Steve Marak <samarak@gizmoworks.com>
  • Date: Thu, 24 May 2007 16:17:11 -0500 (CDT)

It sounded odd enough to me that I spent about 2 hours I didn't really have
digging around on the net to see what I could see. A quick Google search showed
the story turning up on news sites (MSNBC, National Geographic, Scientific
American, etc.), with different quotes from the researchers. The AECOM site
showed most of the authors listed as on faculty, several of them doing research
into melanin-containing fungi, there seemed to be no commonality between the
PLoS ONE web presence and that of AECOM, and I found references to other papers
(not on PLoS ONE) discussing fungi found in or around Chernobyl ...

My conclusion was that if it was a hoax, it was so elaborate and well thought
out that I was not going to uncover it. Not that that proves anything one way 
or the other. 

The paper did note that most fungi, whether they contain melanin or not, can
tolerate doses of 1.7x10**4 Grays, which if I remember my old engineering
courses correctly is thousands of times the median lethal dose for humans. I
have no idea what the flux around or in Chernobyl is. 


On Thu, 24 May 2007 ted.held@us.henkel.com wrote:

> I looked a little at this reference and I am putting myself down as a 
> skeptic. This paper looks to have been published without peer review 
> through funding from George Soros. Neither of those is proof by itself, of 
> course, but it makes the scientifically minded put on the brakes a little 
> bit. I was interested in the claim that living fungi were found growing 
> inside Chernobyl and I clicked on the reference indicated in the paper, at 
> the NIH, and no article was listed there. The site was, in fact, the NIH 
> site, but there was no article. This blunder would never happen in a 
> peer-reviewed paper.
> Then there's the whole idea that some living thing (defined according to 
> how that is understood by those of us who live on Earth) can not only 
> survive ionizing radiation but utilize it to perform life functions. I 
> have watched certain effects of ionizing radiation (x-rays) on formerly 
> living materials and would be surprised if melanin could even withstand 
> ionizing radiation without charring all the way to carbon, much less "eat" 
> it. Then, of course, the life form would have to have some cell structure 
> to support the melanin and make use of the energy products therefrom. Big 
> doubts.
> Ionizing radiation is severe stuff. And my understanding of the Chernobyl 
> reactor is that it is now encased in concrete and nobody with any sense 
> goes anywhere near it. But they have robots in there that are able to 
> retrieve samples? And some researchers at Albert Einstein have these 
> samples and are conducting research, also using ionizing radiation? And 
> word of such a discovery did not make it onto the evening news?
> I don't have time to pursue this further, but it smells like "fringe" 
> science. That is to say, a hoax. There is a lot of this kind of stuff on 
> the internet. You have to be careful.
> Ted.
> Steve Marak <samarak@gizmoworks.com> 
> Sent by: aroid-l-bounces@gizmoworks.com
> 05/24/2007 12:03 AM
> Please respond to
> Discussion of aroids <aroid-l@gizmoworks.com>
> To
> Aroid list <aroid-l@gizmoworks.com>
> cc
> Subject
> [Aroid-l] OT: Fungi that eat ionizing radiation?
> A bit off topic, but I know others on the list like these things too ...
> A post today on one of the bulb lists I follow gave a link to a
> "fascinating-if-true" paper on the possibility that some fungi can use
> ionizing radiation as a direct energy source in a way similar to plant's use
> of visible light.

-- Steve Marak
-- samarak@gizmoworks.com
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