英语资讯
News

VOA慢速英语:科学家研究切尔诺贝利真菌对太空辐射的防护作用

Source: 恒星英语学习网    2020-08-03   English BBS   Favorite  

Researchers are testing a fungus known to grow in high radiation environments to see if it could possibly protect humans traveling in space.

One fungus being studied survived – even thrived – in areas around the former Chernobyl nuclear power center in Ukraine. In 1986, a reactor there exploded and caught fire, sending huge amounts of radiation into the air.

Chernobyl was the world's worst nuclear disaster. The accident caused widespread harm to people and other living things in the surrounding area. Several kinds of fungi, however, have continued to experience growth within the highly radioactive environment.

Researchers are studying a substance found within some fungi called melanin. It is a pigment that gives skin, hair and eyes their color. Studies have shown that melanin in the cell walls of some fungi can take in radiation and turn it into chemical energy.

Recently, a report about one kind of melanin-containing fungus was published on the internet in "pre-print" form. This means the research has yet to complete a peer review process.

The study is a project of scientists from the University of North Carolina and California's Stanford University. The scientists reported that the fungus, called Cladosporium sphaerospermum, was sent to the International Space Station - ISS - for testing.

Earth's atmosphere and magnetic shield protect us from extreme radiation found throughout the universe. But the U.S. space agency NASA notes that while the ISS sits within Earth's magnetic field, astronauts receive over 10 times the radiation that we receive on Earth. It warns that space travelers spending long periods in places like the moon or Mars will face high levels of harmful radiation.

The researchers say the melanin-containing fungus that thrives in Chernobyl could be used to create protective shields for future astronauts.

In the report, the researchers said growth of the fungus on the ISS was observed for 30 days. Radiation levels were also measured. During the test period, the measured radiation levels decreased "by at least 1.82 percent and potentially up to 5.04 percent," the report said.

The researchers said that the experiment demonstrated "that the fungus not only adapts to, but thrives on and shields against space radiation." They noted that since the fungus reproduces itself in high-radiation environments, small amounts could be transported to space and then grown in large amounts.

Further testing is planned with similar fungi.

Last year, researchers from Johns Hopkins University said they had shipped melanin from a similar fungus, called Cryptococcus neoformans, to the ISS. This fungus lives in environments across the world and was found thriving in the area around Chernobyl.

One of the researchers on that project is Radamés J.B. Cordero, with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Cordero said in a statement that the goal of the ISS research is to see how melanin from the fungus can protect astronauts and equipment in space. But he added that radiation is also a big concern for health care providers and patients who are exposed to the material during medical treatments.

"If you have a material that can act as a shield against radiation, it could not only protect people and structures in space, but also have very real benefits for people here on Earth," he said.

I'm Bryan Lynn.

Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English, based on reports from BioRxiv, Johns Hopkins University and the CDC. George Grow was the editor.

We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments section, and visit www.hxen.com .


将本页收藏到:
上一篇:VOA慢速英语:美国最大的公立大学学生被要求研究种族问题
下一篇:返回列表

最新更新
论坛精彩内容
网站地图 - 学习交流 - 恒星英语论坛 - 关于我们 - 广告服务 - 帮助中心 - 联系我们
Copyright ©2006-2007 www.Hxen.com All Rights Reserved