From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.
Scientists have found that a Chernobyl fungus that eats radiation, turning it into food, is so successful that they have sent samples to ISS to see how it responses to space radiation.
By growing it in the International Space Station, where the radiation level is hiked compared to that on Earth, Venkateswaran and Professor Clay Wang of the University of Southern California were able to monitor mutation. When microorganisms are put under more stressful environments, they release different molecules, which could further out understanding of the fungi and how it can be used to develop radiation-blocking drugs for humans.
It is also possible that the fungus could be adapted for other uses.
Kasthuri Venkateswaran, a research scientist at NASA who is leading the experiments on the Cryptococcus neoformans fungi, believes that by extracting its radiation-absorbing power and manufacturing it in drug form, it could be used as a ‘sun block’ against toxic rays.
It would allow cancer patients undergoing radiation therapy, nuclear power plant engineers and airline pilots to operate without fear of absorbing a deadly dose of rays, Venkateswaran envisaged to Scientific American magazine.
The fungi’s radiation-converting power could also be used to power electrical appliances, with it being touted as a possible biological answer to solar panels.
It appears that the fungi’s high level of melanin contributes to its ability to do this.
Every July, to celebrate the anniversary of the start of Behind the Black in 2010, I hold a month-long fund-raising campaign to make it possible for me to continue my work here for another year.
This year's fund-raising drive however is more significant in that it is also the 10th anniversary of this website's founding. It is hard to believe, but I have been doing this for a full decade, during which I have written more than 22,000 posts, of which more than 1,000 were essays and almost 2,600 were evening pauses.
This year's fund drive is also more important because of the growing intolerance of free speech and dissent in American culture. Increasingly people who don't like what they read are blatantly acting to blackball sites like mine. I have tried to insulate myself from this tyrannical effort by not depending on Google advertising or cross-posts Facebook or Twitter. Though this prevents them from having a hold on me, it also acts to limit my exposure.
Therefore, I hope you will please consider donating to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar below. Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.
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