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. Scientists 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. How can this fungus process radiation in this way? Because it has tons of very dark melanin pigment that absorbs radiation and processes it in a harmless way to produce energy. Scientists believe this mechanism could be used to make biomimicking substances that both block radiation from penetrating and turn it into a renewable energy source. Chernobyl is a special case where extreme ambient radiation is a huge danger to anyone who […]

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