So it appears, ladies and gentlemen, that your humble fungus can get a suntan, too. Scientists recently announced that the melanin contained in some darker fungi absorbs and converts potentially dangerous ionizing radiation into usable forms. Which makes the chlorophyll used by green plants look like a little girl.
A couple of years back, scientists sent robots into the extreme radioactivity around Chernobyl and found, living in the reactors, loads of dark fungi, which apparently was just chilling, waiting for somebody to bring it a mojito or something.
In a May 22 Scientific American article, Arturo Casadevall of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City says, "In many commercial nuclear reactors, the radioactive water becomes contaminated with melanotic organisms. Nobody really knows what the hell they are doing there."
But apparently they like it quite a bit. What this means is that life is yet cooler than we thought that not only do organisms rely on sunlight, but other forms of energy can be turned into something to keep life lively. That's a big deal if it pans out. Fungi are responsible for the breakdown of organic material of course, and that they thrive on a pretty unfriendly form of energy is better than finding out that coat hangers can be turned into lunch meat.
And apparently melanin, the stuff that's in our skin, is pretty deft at handling a large amount of energy and twisting it into something more manageable and less like something that would blow up a potato in a microwave.
This is good news for space travel, because it means that astronauts could live off tasty fungi in space, which is chock-full of radiation and aliens. The fungi might even be put into clothing that could shield us from cosmic rays.
Who'd have thought it would be truffles that would carry us into the future?
It's about time. This lousy rock we're living on is getting too cramped and dirty as it is. It's high time high time! we pack up the good china, the "Northern Exposure" DVDs and a Scrabble board and got the heck off this planet. Sure, it'll take a while to get somewhere else, but if we plan ahead, we can get there and still catch the playoffs.
When preparing your spaceship, think about keeping a small garden onboard, probably a container garden. Consider that you're carrying the future of the human race in that little vessel, so plan accordingly to stay alive in a limited space. Virginia Cooperative Extension has plenty of intergalactic tips.
Let's make a list now so we don't forget anything useful as we head out into the endless night: Take along large-mesh wire, plenty of pots, garbage bags, basic tools, some soil, some fertilizer and, of course, pantyhose, for when things get formal. Oh, and bugs.
Of course, if we follow some of this advice on Earth, we may not have to leave this party just yet. And where else are you going to find a good corn dog in this galaxy anyway? HS