It is said to be the worst nuclear accident in history when two explosions caused the roof to blow off one of the plant’s reactors, making the entire area a quarantine zone that is dangerous for humans.
By 1991, the walls of the power plant were discovered to be have a strange fungus growing on them that actually eats radiation.
Scientists were baffled by the fungus’ ability to survive in such a radiation-rich area, but finally figured out that the fungus was not only able to survive, but it was actually thriving.
The presence of which allowed it to absorb surrounding radiation and change it into another type of energy which allowed it to grow.
Though this is not the first time a radiation-eating fungus has been discovered. The Cretaceous period, a time when earth lost much of its protection again cosmic radiation, also saw fungal spores with high amounts of melanin.
Ekaterina Dadachova and Arturo Casadevall, the former being a nuclear chemist from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, published research on the fungus in 2007.
According to their article in Scientific American, they analyzed three different fungi and based on their research, they concluded that the ones containing melanin were able to absorb the high amounts of energy in ionizing radiation.
The researchers learned that the radiation changed the shape of the melanin molecules that an electron level and that fungi with a natural shell of melanin did better in environments with high amounts of radiation.
The Melanin in our skin absorbs energy to help it dissipate as quickly as possible, distributing the UV radiation from the sun in such a way that its harmful impact on the body is minimized.
With the fungi, the team suggested that it acts like an ”energy transformer”, making the energy from the radiation weak enough so it can be effectively used by fungus.
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