Thursday, August 2, 2012

Radiation Pigeons

When the Chernobyl nuclear plant near Pirpyat, in what is now the Ukraine, melted down in 1986, it was a worldwide disaster.   Radiation spread as far away as Kansas, and Pirpyat is now massively radioactive, and judged uninhabitable.  A few very stubborn people live there, and made an incredible discovery.  A type of yeast there developed the ability to eat gamma radiation.  As food.    This species of yeast is also universally found in pigeon feces.
Gamma radiation is the lowest-mass type of radiation produced from radioactive decay.   It takes several feet of lead to stop it due to its high energy,and it's absolutely hazardous to human health in the same way as touching a red hot stove would be.   Also, outer space is absolutely full of it, which is a hazard to would-be space travelers.  
These two facts can be combined to form two mad inventions, and I'm not sure which one is crazier.
One, we can clean up radioactive spills by spreading bread all over the affected area and then releasing some pigeons, which can easily be caught in most major cities in North America and Europe.   When these pigeons poop all over the place, the yeast will get right to work eating up all the radiation, making the area inhabitable years sooner than it would otherwise.
Two, we can keep a thin layer of pigeon poop in the outer hull of space going vehicles.   In the depths of space, the yeasts will absolutely feast on the radiation, and only very little would reach the astronauts.  Space travel would be lighter, cheaper, and safer.

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