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Name: deenaharper
Status: N/A
Age: N/A
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: Around 1993


Question:
In my studies, I have found that everything in this world is balanced. When something dies it is converted into life. Is there anything out there that could convert radioactive material into a harmless substance? Some sort of bacteria that consumes radiation?



Replies:
The reason why radiation is so harmful is that is produces free radicals in living tissue, that is, it de-stabilizes molecules by tearing off electrons due to intense energies. These free radicals start a chain reaction of destruction, de-stabilizing neighboring molecules. If this continues unchecked, cells die, genetic material are mutated, and tissue aging accelerates. It is somewhat like being burned. Fire oxidizes by a similar free radical reaction. (Hence the term "sun burn.") The natural defenses against free radical reactions in biological systems are antioxidants, which are enzymes, nutrients, and other chemicals, which quench free radical reactions. Without them, life would very quickly cease. To my knowledge, no microorganism has an antioxidant capacity great enough to withstand even minimal exposure to any type of radiation. Microorganisms are actually very susceptible to radiation, which is why heat and gamma irradiation are used to sterilize food, instruments, etc. However, you raise an interesting possibility in that perhaps one can be genetically engineered to have super- antioxidant capacity, but that may be beyond current technology. Plus, if any got loose, given the exponential rate of reproduction, they may become an uncontrollable health hazard, as it would be very difficult to destroy them!

wizkid


Unlikely, I would think. Organisms convert one type of molecule into another, like proteins into sugars etc., but do not act at the level of individual atoms, where the property of radioactivity resides. So even if they had superantioxidant capability, I do not think they would be equipped to do the job metabolically.

profbill



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