Scientists at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine (AEC) have found fungus feeding on radioactivity within the Chernobyl nuclear reactor. Scientists suspect that melanin, the same UV filter in our skin, is responsible for allowing these fungi to consume a mutant-creating-level of gamma radiation.
Microbiologist Arturo Casadevall learned years before this discovery that a robot had been sent into areas of intense radioactivity and had returned with samples of black, melanin rich fungi growing on the walls. He and his colleagues later saw reports that the cooling water in some working nuclear reactors turns black from colonies of melanin-rich fungi.
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Casadevall explains that,
I found that very interesting and began discussing with colleagues whether these fungi might be using the radiation emissions as an energy source.
Despite the lethal gamma radiation lingering at the Chernobyl reactor, many microorganisms find a way to survive. Casadevall thought that maybe the radiation was aiding the fungi’s growth. According to Casadevall,
The thought was that biology never wastes any energy source.
Sure enough, Casadevall’s hypothesis was correct, and after a series of tests involving 500-times normal radiation levels, electron spin resonance, close-up melanin observation, and a melanin-less albino fungus, the radiotrophic fungus was born into the minds’ of mankind. Researchers also speculate that the fungi aren’t feeding solely on gamma rays, but X-rays, UV rays and other rays as well.
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Want to know how I know reality is batshit crazy? There is life on this planet that feeds on something we can’t even see, but will destroy us from the inside out with cancer nonetheless. There is life that feeds on death!
Fungus has far more uses than you might have realized:
- A fungal suit that detoxifies and feeds on your corpse
- Fungus used as a material for building living, organic shipping containers;
- Fungal cleaning devices,
- One of the most effective tools in the field of psychotherapy
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Fungus is also cooler and better at life than you. Certain fungus species can eject their spore mass
at 35 feet per second (10.8 m per second) to a height of six feet (2 m), and lands as far away as 8 feet (2.5 m).
Fungus species pump out spores at an extremely high rate as well.
A single mushroom can launch 31,000 ballistospores per second, adding up to some 2.7 billion spores per day.
Some types of fungi can even control the air around them to create a spore-scattering breeze where there was only still air before. Check out the following videos. The first one shows a great example of spore dispersal, while the second one contains footage of a spore launch filmed with a high speed camera.
Let’s get back to the melanin study. Do you realize the study serves as a more stable foundation to support the strange, albeit utterly possible supposition that mushrooms came from outside Earth? Is it really that hard to imagine though? The notion that mushrooms came from space may be too ‘out there’ for some, but is it really that much weirder than: Lake life surviving in isolation under ice for 2800 years, the atmosphere of Titan making DNA, or sugar floating around stars? As they say, truth is stranger than fiction.
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Just like fungus, life shows up in the strangest places and in the most bizarre forms. To end this article on an even more incredible note, would you believe me if I told you there are space mushrooms in the night sky peering into your soul?! How about mutated space mushrooms eating away at space stations? Yup, that’s a thing.
Space fungus has been growing on and within the Russian Mir-Space Station since the late ’80s. While the fungus and other microorganisms are normal terrestrial forms of life that were brought up from Earth with the cosmonauts, they fear potential mutations that 500-times higher gamma radiation exposure can induce in the fungi. After all, the fungi’s corrosive fluids are already eating through metal, plastic, and other essential materials on the space station. I wonder how much gamma radiation it takes to mutate space fungus into delicious truffles on my dinner plate…
Remember, depending on the observer, all of reality and life is strange and unexpected. To make life even more unpredictable your utterly limited self perceives less than one-billionth of reality, and that’s just the light spectrum. If fungus can teach us anything it is to never underestimate the strangeness of reality and the possibility that there may exist anything we can imagine and more.