Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Ethics in gamma journalism

It is not immediately clear why Mavi et al. set about exposing blue-green algae and cyanobacteria to gamma radiation from a Cobalt-60 source.
Perhaps they dreamed of mutating the algae into an advanced form of sentient vegetation which would obliterate entire continents beneath its murderous biomass. Doesn't every mad scientist?
You won't believe what happened next! Algae and bacteria proved to selectively absorb the γ-rays, making them into better radiation shields than lead!
Protection capacity of some biomass was observed to be higher than a 1-cm thick lead standard for comparison. Gamma ray related protection depends not only to thickness but also to density (g/cm³). Hence the effect of biomass density also was tested and significantly found the tested biomass absorbed more of the incoming energy on a density basis than lead. This paper discusses the a new approach to environmental protection from gamma ray, The findings suggest that the test samples, especially cyanobacteria, have a potential for reducing gamma ray more significantly than lead and can be used as shielding materials.
Now this has the downside that irradiation sterilisation of Sushi rolls will be harder than we first thought, because the nori wrapping will soak up the lethal beams and shield the contents. There is also the concern that mutant algae would flourish on the airless, unshielded environment on the moon -- to the surprise of visiting astronauts! -- for rather than incur damage from x-ray and γ-ray wavelengths, it would thrive on ionising radiation, using the energy for photosynthesis in the manner of reactor-dwelling mildew.
But every pig's ear has a silver lining, and an ill wind is bad at fellatio (or something), and let us look at the positive side. A fabric or film made of gammasynthetic algae is the ideal material for constructing a radiation-proof atom-bomb-protective suit, with the added bonus that you could wear it on Hallowe'en as a Sexy Sushi-Roll costume.
It remains to be seen whether such a costume would also provide protection against falling rhomboids.
UPDATE: Retraction Watch alerts us to the fact that the Mavi et al. paper has been expunged from the scientific record on account of "issues with the data".

This is hardly a satisfying explanation for the depublication and I am inclined to blame the self-serving behind-the-scenes machinations of the Big Lead lobby.

UPDATE #2: Bonus Atom-Bomb Protection Suit from Toyen.


H. Rumbold, Master Barber said...

Would a seaweed and metal-layered suit protect from Deadly Orgone Radiation?

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

Deadly, Master Rumbold, or sexy?