Saturday, February 25, 2006

My mushrooms eat bombs for breakfast

Scientist Robert Triggs wants to pack commercial explosives with fungus to combat the looming dangers of undetonated (or lost) charges that frequently accumulate in the soil from mining and demolitions operations. By mixing in a dormant spore of the strain Phlebia radiata with the ingredients of explosive charges during their production, Triggs claims this intrepid microbial mushroom will quickly gobble up and dissolve the sensitive materials leftover by faulty or unexploded mines.

Basically, he's patented some little mushies that like to eat bombs for breakfast. I call it a kind of fungoidal bomb-hacking, or harvesting an atomic landscape metabolism with a secret empire of nuke-hungry shrooms. A different type of seeding for the apocalypse.
Anyway, perhaps this defusing technique should apply to bombing ranges and test sites, too, or other spoilt landscapes where regular blasts pummel the earth, or hold vast swaths of it hostage.
I mean, until we figure out a wholly new approach to managing weapons and their waste, in the mean time we could be, instead, producing this stuff more responsibly. Like self-destructing landmines, self-cannibalizing bombshells, or auto-bioremediating warheads. Green grenades. It may sound ridiculous, but at the very least, environmental-friendly ordnance that cleans up after itself.

See these articles:
Explosive-eating fungus (New Scientist)
Bioremediation of soils contaminated with explosives (pdf) (Journal of Environmental Management)


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