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Cosmic Radiation Makes Trees Grow Faster

kdawson posted about 5 years ago | from the ents-are-going-to-war dept.

Space 162

Diamonddavej writes "The BBC reports that researchers at the University of Edinburgh have found that Galactic Cosmic Rays (GCRs) somehow makes trees grow faster. GCRs vary according to the 11-year solar cycle, with more GCRs hitting the Earth during solar minimum when there is a lull in the solar wind, which normally acts to protect the inner solar system from external galactic radiation. The mechanism might have something to do with GCRs increasing cloud cover, which diffuses sunlight and increases the efficiency of photosynthesis. Nevertheless, the researchers remain mystified and are requesting further ideas and research collaboration to test hypotheses. (How about Radiation Hormesis, AKA 'Vitamin-R?')" Here is the paper's abstract at the journal New Phytologist. The researchers say: "The relation of the rings to the solar cycle was much stronger than to any climatological factors. ... As for the mechanism, we are puzzled."

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Big Surprise (4, Funny)

JumperCable (673155) | about 5 years ago | (#29803389)

researchers at the University of Edinburgh have found that Galactic Cosmic Rays (GCRs) somehow makes trees grow faster

I don't think they need to look any further for answers than the Fantastic Four.

Re:Big Surprise (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29803445)

Hey, could somebody please post the "stud dogs" troll? I can't find it anywhere on Google.

Breaking News (1)

Cryacin (657549) | about 5 years ago | (#29803559)

Tree plantation at Chernobyl site proves highly profitable growth for the niche "glow in the dark" paper market.

Film at 11

Re:Breaking News (4, Informative)

olsmeister (1488789) | about 5 years ago | (#29803737)

Chernobyl is not cosmic radiation.

Re:Breaking News (1)

weicco (645927) | about 5 years ago | (#29804761)

So ... We need to blow up a nuclear reactor to test this hypothesis?

Re:Breaking News (1)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | about 5 years ago | (#29805289)

No, Einstein.

Radioactive decay particles:
  - alpha (2 protons+2 neutrons),
  - beta (electron or positron),
  - gamma (photons)
Cosmic radiation:
  - photons (gamma)
  - protons
  - helium
  - electrons
in high-speed, high-energy; ... not mentioning neutrinos, as they don't interact.
These are two different tinfoil hats.

Re:Big Surprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29803481)

Wow... you just got me thinking of the Power Cosmic.

Lawful Neutral []

Such a bad ass enemy.

Re:Big Surprise (0)

Kratisto (1080113) | about 5 years ago | (#29804005)

Galactic Cosmic Rays? That's a stupid way to say "Sunlight."


Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29804087)

for being an idiot


Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29804555)

for being funny

Re:Big Surprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29804837)

Hmm, some life giving power outside of our solar system?
Proof for God!!!

Or, the drop of solar activity (which is also causing the increased GCR), causes plant growth.

Red is bad (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29803391)

And I am Superman, right....

It's called research (4, Funny)

EdIII (1114411) | about 5 years ago | (#29803397)

As for the mechanism, we are puzzled

Geez and they're scientists? Just do a little research. I suggest Marvel Comics. Plenty of good info there. At the risk of starting war, I would caution them against research using DC Comics as they are for simple idiots that live in their mother's basements.

Re:It's called research (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29804471)

You are so dead now.

causality is possibly wrong (5, Interesting)

wizardforce (1005805) | about 5 years ago | (#29803409)

If the solar cycle is what determines the level of GCR that gets to Earth then it may very well have absolutely nothing to do with the tree growth its self but an indicator of solar conditions which influence tree growth rates.

Re:causality is possibly wrong (2, Funny)

socsoc (1116769) | about 5 years ago | (#29803515)

But correlation is causation.

Re:causality is possibly wrong (3, Funny)

cjfs (1253208) | about 5 years ago | (#29803557)

But correlation is causation.

No, the two are merely correlated.


Re:causality is possibly wrong (1, Funny)

maglor_83 (856254) | about 5 years ago | (#29803719)

Re:causality is possibly wrong (3, Interesting)

khayman80 (824400) | about 5 years ago | (#29803785)

That's what I'm thinking too. GCR intensity is highest when sunspot activity is lowest, generally modulating on an 11 year [] cycle. But solar irradiance also varies at the same frequency; the Sun is actually (~0.1%) brighter when more sunspots are present, contrary to intuition.

If tree growth between 1953-2006 really is highest when sunspot activity is lowest, that implies trees grow faster when the Sun is very slightly dimmer. Weird. Their diffusion explanation makes sense, but as they note this cloud condensation effect is supposed to be a very small effect. Perhaps it's just large enough to be noticed in these proxy data, though. I agree, however, that a link to solar irradiance is more intuitively appealing, and it's not immediately obvious how it could be ruled out.

I'd bet they've already considered this issue and ruled it out, possibly by using satellite measurements of solar irradiance and solar wind over the last few decades. They're supposed to be tightly correlated, but if the solar wind varies even slightly differently than solar irradiance it should be possible to see which is causing this variation in growth rates.

Re:causality is possibly wrong (2, Informative)

Eukariote (881204) | about 5 years ago | (#29805143)

Though there is little variation at visible and near UV wavelengths, the solar flux has a huge (factor of three) variation with the solar cycle in the extreme UV: [] .

EUV and X-ray photons constitute a marked fraction of the total solar output. A much larger fraction than you would expect from the short-wavelength tail of the black-body spectrum of the solar surface. Indeed, these emissions are mostly from the corona, not the surface: EUV at 171A [] , and an X-ray image [] .

Such high-frequency photons are absorbed in the very upper layers of the atmosphere. However, roughly 50% of the secondary energetic effects (heating, fluorescence, ionization-recombination emission, etc.) will reach ground level instead of going back out into space.

If something here on earth is varying with the solar cycle, the first cause to consider is therefore the solar EUV and X-ray flux.

Re:causality is possibly wrong (1)

mrmeval (662166) | about 5 years ago | (#29805109)

What if trees detect that there is a solar minimum and grow bigger in response to it because trees that grew bigger in the past during solar minimums survived.

cue the bad superhero jokes ... (4, Funny)

Korbeau (913903) | about 5 years ago | (#29803413)

in one, two, tree ...

Re:cue the bad superhero jokes ... (1)

sadness203 (1539377) | about 5 years ago | (#29803865)

Your super farseeing power were a little bit off, just 4 minutes late. Not so bad actually.

Cloud cover (4, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 5 years ago | (#29803447)

The mechanism might have something to do with GCRs increasing cloud cover, which diffuses sunlight and increases the efficiency of photosynthesis.

How about cloud cover leads to more precipitation?

Re:Cloud cover (2, Insightful)

pclminion (145572) | about 5 years ago | (#29803491)

How about cloud cover leads to more precipitation?

No. Precipitation cannot be larger than evaporation. Evaporation is heat driven, and cosmic rays do not input enough heat energy to significantly contribute to evaporation.

Re:Cloud cover (3, Insightful)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 5 years ago | (#29803547)

How about cloud cover leads to more precipitation?

No. Precipitation cannot be larger than evaporation. Evaporation is heat driven, and cosmic rays do not input enough heat energy to significantly contribute to evaporation.

Radiation nucleates droplets in clouds so that water vapor precipitates where it otherwise would have stayed in the atmosphere. Its a bit like how dust from outer space contributes to rainfall by encouraging the formation of drops big enough to fall as rain.

Re:Cloud cover (1)

sillybilly (668960) | about 5 years ago | (#29803793)

That's a nice hypothesis to test, if you also collect rainfall data.

I was also thinking about DNA damage caused by radiation. All organisms are resilient to some low levels of radiation, or DNA molecular damage caused by even oxidizers/chemicals, heat, or radiation, and have sophisticated self-repair functions. Aging is deliberate built in function in all known multicellular organisms, caused by a counting mechanism that counts how many times the individual cells have divided - bacteria live indefinitely in this sense. Radiation might accelerate the cell division process, but at the same time, the aging process. But aging might be more complex than a simple count, what determines the overall age of an organism? Is it the count of a cancerous cell going haywire? Is it an average, local count? Is it the least multiplying cell? There is a lot of "junk" DNA that we don't understand, that might have sophisticated mechanisms to generate and regulate aging, involving counting day/light or even moon cycles, sleep/awake feed/hungry cycles, beyond a simple cell division count. Or aging might be as simple as each individual organ going at it at their own rate, and if someone has say, a wacky behaving liver for instance, that decides to age at a faster rate then the rest of the body, you could say there is a person with a 90 year old liver in a 40 year old body and everything ages independently. You could say some heavy alcoholics are like that, but I suspect a 90 year old liver is vastly different than a 40 year old artificially damaged one. I suspect aging is regulated on a whole organism level, by the organism. Aging is done on purpose, and it seems to happens too predictably to be just a random fluctuation of how some organs go. After all nobody lives 300 years. Though there are some people who don't make it past 20, still, we recognize how old people are just from looking at them. Aging is by design, death is by design, so that there can be mating and offsprings. It's a faster, better way to adapt to an environment, by throwing random solutions at a problem, to see which one sticks, brute force, 99.99% waste, but it solves the problems, which is more than no solution at all. Without death, with eternal life, there is no offsprings, no rooms for offsprings, and no automatic adaptation, or just a very slow one. If we humans ever create eternal life humans, that will mean no death, but also no children.

How cosmic radiation, or even radioactive radiation affects an organism can be very complex. For instance enhanced growth patterns in tree rings could be called "tumors", or "irregular growth patterns." We know radiation can both create and kill tumors. Perhaps a low dose creates a uniform low-tumor-activity type growth in all trees. Tumors can be benign or malignant, and benign tumors in and of themselves might be a form of evolution, if they are found to be a better adaptation to a given environment. What's irregular growth anyway? Who's the judge of that? Time is.

Re:Cloud cover (1)

Stupid McStupidson (1660141) | about 5 years ago | (#29803887)

That's just what they want you to think.

Re:Cloud cover (1)

jcr (53032) | about 5 years ago | (#29803913)

Aging is deliberate built in function

There are no "deliberate" functions in DNA, only those which are selected by environmental pressures.


Re:Cloud cover (0, Troll)

tabrnaker (741668) | about 5 years ago | (#29804215)

Put the kool-aid down and step back...

Science could do with less fanatics, and more people who actually understand what science achieves.

Re:Cloud cover (1)

autora (1085805) | about 5 years ago | (#29805237)

Not saying that I agree with using the word "deliberate" either but can you give a possible environmental pressure that would have led to aging being successful?

Re:Cloud cover (1)

dargaud (518470) | about 5 years ago | (#29805321)

Not saying that I agree with using the word "deliberate" either but can you give a possible environmental pressure that would have led to aging being successful?

Easy. Take a nearly immortal, non-aging specie. Take another one in the same ecological niche that reproduces quickly, ages and dies. In face on changing conditions, the first one will have problems, but the second one, thanks to its random mutations, will adapt and thrive, possibly replacing the first one entirely.

Immortality of many cells is called cancer and leads to death of the individual. Immortality of many individuals likely causes death of the specie.

Re:Cloud cover (1)

autora (1085805) | about 5 years ago | (#29805349)

I get obviously the concept that aging and death allows adaptation to the species - just having a hard time visualising that sometime in our evolutionary history there were some animals that didn't age. Never heard that before *shrug*.

Re:Cloud cover (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29804209)

since clouds over land typically have too much dust and thus droplets too small to fall as rain, the further decrease in droplet size would probably serve to decrease rainfall. In theory anyway, it might just keep it minimal.

(This is in contrast to overseas, where there is little dust and the water vapour typically doesn't have enough dust to collect onto)

Re:Cloud cover (2, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 5 years ago | (#29804383)

Yeah well it depends on where you are. Here in Australia getting water vapor to precipitate before it crosses the east coast is an issue. Most of it flies right over because we don't have enough terrain to push it up to form ice.

Re:Cloud cover (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29803689)

Thanks a lot for ruining the mystery!

I'm never taking you to a movie, you'd just spoil the ending!

Re:Cloud cover (1)

pz (113803) | about 5 years ago | (#29804135)

The mechanism might have something to do with GCRs increasing cloud cover, which diffuses sunlight and increases the efficiency of photosynthesis.

How about cloud cover leads to more precipitation?

Right. Correlation is not causation, no matter how hard you wish it so. Another hypothesis is that GCRs -- since they are observed to vary with the solar cycle -- are an epiphenomenon, and the real driving force is the solar cycle.

Nothing to see here but another ill-thought-out observation of which there are plenty. The 11-year solar cycle also drives the insolation (amount of light hitting the earth), the magnetosphere, the amount of accreted cosmic dust, the aurora borealis, the cloud cover, the sea levels, the mean temperature ... saying it's the frelling GCRs that causes growth patterns is pretty far down on the list.

My pot is doing great (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29803471)

Increased GCR's + light diffusion increasing photosynthesis...all natural organic compounds, this year has been heartier than most.

Your official guide to the Jigaboo presidency (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29803489)

Congratulations on your purchase of a brand new nigger! If handled properly, your apeman will give years of valuable, if reluctant, service.

You should install your nigger differently according to whether you have purchased the field or house model. Field niggers work best in a serial configuration, i.e. chained together. Chain your nigger to another nigger immediately after unpacking it, and don't even think about taking that chain off, ever. Many niggers start singing as soon as you put a chain on them. This habit can usually be thrashed out of them if nipped in the bud. House niggers work best as standalone units, but should be hobbled or hamstrung to prevent attempts at escape. At this stage, your nigger can also be given a name. Most owners use the same names over and over, since niggers become confused by too much data. Rufus, Rastus, Remus, Toby, Carslisle, Carlton, Hey-You!-Yes-you!, Yeller, Blackstar, and Sambo are all effective names for your new buck nigger. If your nigger is a ho, it should be called Latrelle, L'Tanya, or Jemima. Some owners call their nigger hoes Latrine for a joke. Pearl, Blossom, and Ivory are also righteous names for nigger hoes. These names go straight over your nigger's head, by the way.

Owing to a design error, your nigger comes equipped with a tongue and vocal chords. Most niggers can master only a few basic human phrases with this apparatus - "muh dick" being the most popular. However, others make barking, yelping, yapping noises and appear to be in some pain, so you should probably call a vet and have him remove your nigger's tongue. Once de-tongued your nigger will be a lot happier - at least, you won't hear it complaining anywhere near as much. Niggers have nothing interesting to say, anyway. Many owners also castrate their niggers for health reasons (yours, mine, and that of women, not the nigger's). This is strongly recommended, and frankly, it's a mystery why this is not done on the boat

Your nigger can be accommodated in cages with stout iron bars. Make sure, however, that the bars are wide enough to push pieces of nigger food through. The rule of thumb is, four niggers per square yard of cage. So a fifteen foot by thirty foot nigger cage can accommodate two hundred niggers. You can site a nigger cage anywhere, even on soft ground. Don't worry about your nigger fashioning makeshift shovels out of odd pieces of wood and digging an escape tunnel under the bars of the cage. Niggers never invented the shovel before and they're not about to now. In any case, your nigger is certainly too lazy to attempt escape. As long as the free food holds out, your nigger is living better than it did in Africa, so it will stay put. Buck niggers and hoe niggers can be safely accommodated in the same cage, as bucks never attempt sex with black hoes.

Your Nigger likes fried chicken, corn bread, and watermelon. You should therefore give it none of these things because its lazy ass almost certainly doesn't deserve it. Instead, feed it on porridge with salt, and creek water. Your nigger will supplement its diet with whatever it finds in the fields, other niggers, etc. Experienced nigger owners sometimes push watermelon slices through the bars of the nigger cage at the end of the day as a treat, but only if all niggers have worked well and nothing has been stolen that day. Mike of the Old Ranch Plantation reports that this last one is a killer, since all niggers steal something almost every single day of their lives. He reports he doesn't have to spend much on free watermelon for his niggers as a result. You should never allow your nigger meal breaks while at work, since if it stops work for more than ten minutes it will need to be retrained. You would be surprised how long it takes to teach a nigger to pick cotton. You really would. Coffee beans? Don't ask. You have no idea.

Niggers are very, very averse to work of any kind. The nigger's most prominent anatomical feature, after all, its oversized buttocks, which have evolved to make it more comfortable for your nigger to sit around all day doing nothing for its entire life. Niggers are often good runners, too, to enable them to sprint quickly in the opposite direction if they see work heading their way. The solution to this is to *dupe* your nigger into working. After installation, encourage it towards the cotton field with blows of a wooden club, fence post, baseball bat, etc., and then tell it that all that cotton belongs to a white man, who won't be back until tomorrow. Your nigger will then frantically compete with the other field niggers to steal as much of that cotton as it can before the white man returns. At the end of the day, return your nigger to its cage and laugh at its stupidity, then repeat the same trick every day indefinitely. Your nigger comes equipped with the standard nigger IQ of 75 and a memory to match, so it will forget this trick overnight. Niggers can start work at around 5am. You should then return to bed and come back at around 10am. Your niggers can then work through until around 10pm or whenever the light fades.

Your nigger enjoys play, like most animals, so you should play with it regularly. A happy smiling nigger works best. Games niggers enjoy include: 1) A good thrashing: every few days, take your nigger's pants down, hang it up by its heels, and have some of your other niggers thrash it with a club or whip. Your nigger will signal its intense enjoyment by shrieking and sobbing. 2) Lynch the nigger: niggers are cheap and there are millions more where yours came from. So every now and then, push the boat out a bit and lynch a nigger.

Lynchings are best done with a rope over the branch of a tree, and niggers just love to be lynched. It makes them feel special. Make your other niggers watch. They'll be so grateful, they'll work harder for a day or two (and then you can lynch another one). 3) Nigger dragging: Tie your nigger by one wrist to the tow bar on the back of suitable vehicle, then drive away at approximately 50mph. Your nigger's shrieks of enjoyment will be heard for miles. It will shriek until it falls apart. To prolong the fun for the nigger, do *NOT* drag him by his feet, as his head comes off too soon. This is painless for the nigger, but spoils the fun. Always wear a seatbelt and never exceed the speed limit. 4) Playing on the PNL: a variation on (2), except you can lynch your nigger out in the fields, thus saving work time. Niggers enjoy this game best if the PNL is operated by a man in a tall white hood. 5) Hunt the nigger: a variation of Hunt the Slipper, but played outdoors, with Dobermans. WARNING: do not let your Dobermans bite a nigger, as they are highly toxic.

Niggers die on average at around 40, which some might say is 40 years too late, but there you go. Most people prefer their niggers dead, in fact. When yours dies, report the license number of the car that did the drive-by shooting of your nigger. The police will collect the nigger and dispose of it for you.

Have it put down, for god's sake. Who needs an uppity nigger? What are we, short of niggers or something?

They all do this. Shorten your nigger's chain so it can't reach any white women, and arm heavily any white women who might go near it.

Not unless it outnumbers you 20 to 1, and even then, it's not likely. If niggers successfully overthrew their owners, they'd have to sort out their own food. This is probably why nigger uprisings were nonexistent (until some fool gave them rights).

Yeah, well, it would. Tell it to shut the fuck up.

A nigger's skin is actually more or less transparent. That brown color you can see is the shit your nigger is full of. This is why some models of nigger are sold as "The Shitskin".

What you have there is a "wigger". Rough crowd. WOW!

They're as common as dog shit and about as valuable. In fact, one of them was President between 1992 and 2000. Put your wigger in a cage with a few hundred genuine niggers and you'll soon find it stops acting like a nigger. However, leave it in the cage and let the niggers dispose of it. The best thing for any wigger is a dose of TNB.

And you were expecting what?

When you came in here, did you see a sign that said "Dead nigger storage"? .That's because there ain't no goddamn sign.

Repeat after me: Correlation Is Not Causation (4, Insightful)

Shaterri (253660) | about 5 years ago | (#29803493)

Especially in a case like this, where there are other tightly-correlated variables. Why is the authors' presumption that it's the cosmic rays (or lack thereof) that are regulating tree growth, rather than solar and sunspot activity itself? It seems at least as plausible to me that sunspot activity correlates to some other solar features (e.g., solar irradiance) that would have a more natural and direct effect on tree growth than cosmic rays.

Re:Repeat after me: Correlation Is Not Causation (3, Informative)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 5 years ago | (#29803525)

Are you saying that tree growth may be causing cosmic radiation?

Re:Repeat after me: Correlation Is Not Causation (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29803563)

it's the butterfly effect or something

Re:Repeat after me: Correlation Is Not Causation (1)

CptNerd (455084) | about 5 years ago | (#29804479)

Irradiated butterfles?

(which, BTW, would be a great name for a rock band)

(so would "Galactic Cosmic Rays". Just sayin'.)

No, allusion to Peanuts comic strip, I think (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29805093)

See the "republished November 16, 2007" strip, or just search for "Brazil" on that page.

This Google search [] will get you more pages which reference that cultural tidbit.

Re:Repeat after me: Correlation Is Not Causation (1)

cmdotter (1274534) | about 5 years ago | (#29804273)

...and I thought this might have been proof that astrology is actually real. Alas, I keep waiting.

Re:Repeat after me: Correlation Is Not Causation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29805035)

I'm getting seriously bothered by /. posters commenting on research papers they have not read with criticisms that are covered in the paper they are commenting on. Why don't you go off and read the paper and then tell us whether it is solar irradiance or not. Now get off my lawn

It's Simple Really (5, Funny)

eldavojohn (898314) | about 5 years ago | (#29803519)

What else grows from radiation? Cancer. Quod erat demonstratum, trees are cancer. Therefore we must cut them down and burn them. Perhaps form some sort of industry devoted to this.

What? The "logging" industry? Oh, well, very good then. Continue.

Re:It's Simple Really (4, Funny)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 5 years ago | (#29803555)

I am the lorax. I speak for the trees, which you seem to be cutting as much as you please.

Re:It's Simple Really (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29804791)

Lorax looked like a pedophile.

Just sayin'.

Re:It's Simple Really (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29803639)

Canker sores could be cancer. Cancer is treated with radiation therapy. Canker sores are caused by Hepatitis. Pamela Anderson has Hepatitis. She also had breast reduction surgery. Breast cancer is treated with breast reduction surgery. Pamela Anderson also causes wood. Does this mean I should irradiate my penis?

Re:It's Simple Really (2, Funny)

maglor_83 (856254) | about 5 years ago | (#29803741)


Re:It's Simple Really (1)

baKanale (830108) | about 5 years ago | (#29803939)

No, just your seed.

Grow Ops. (1)

theReal-Hp_Sauce (1030010) | about 5 years ago | (#29803529)

Now everyone with a grow op in their basement has to go out and buy new fancy lights which give off Galactic Cosmic Rays.


In other dendrochronology news (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29803551)

Allegations of misconduct [] have appeared regarding key IPCC dendrochronological 'evidence.' Several widely publicized papers may be based on a single flawed survey of cherry picked samples. Steve McIntyre of has been analyzing long withheld data and has draw some disturbing conclusions. []

The story involves, in part, the exposure of raw data left unprotected on a file server by jealous researchers. One would think it might be of interest here on Slashdot given that the NYT is talking about it. []

mod dowN (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29803599)

could sink yOur it. Do not share a super-organised later ssen in

m0d d03n (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29803693)

summer iso *BSD could cheese a the small back fire broken comma dot slash w00t

The solution for global warming! (0)

Bruce Perens (3872) | about 5 years ago | (#29803621)

Cause increased carbon sequestration by bombarding the Earth with radiation! This also has the beneficial side-effect putting an eventual end to homocentric global warming.

Re:The solution for global warming! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29803701)

You know, selling global warming as anthropogenic is probably a better idea than homocentric.

Re:The solution for global warming! (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | about 5 years ago | (#29803897)

Might be one way to convince the religious right...

"We must stop homocentric warming!"

"Oil works for homocentric warming, down with oil!!!"

Once upon a time (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Cowar (1608865) | about 5 years ago | (#29803625)

They used to grow plants with radiation in the soil because it would cause them to grow faster. However, the problem is that this would irradiate the food that grew off of these plants.

Re:Once upon a time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29803683)


Re:Once upon a time (3, Informative)

wizardforce (1005805) | about 5 years ago | (#29803743)

objects do not become radioactive unless they are bombarded with neutron radiation, high energy protons or extremely high energy gamma radiation capable of ejecting a proton or neutron to form a radioactive isotope. Simply irradiating an object does not necessarily make the object radioactive. Now in so far as plants having a higher growth rate due to radiation, I haven't heard much on the subject other than radiotropic melanized fungi [] living near Chernobyl having a substantially increased growth rate.

Re:Once upon a time (1)

jamesh (87723) | about 5 years ago | (#29804031)

objects do not become radioactive unless they are bombarded with neutron radiation

Contrary to what you might have heard, plants don't just absorb water from their roots - they also absorb minerals etc. If any of the minerals in the soil that the plant absorbs happen to be radioactive then we have a problem. If the plant then enters any part of the food chain that ends with humans then we have a bigger problem.

Re:Once upon a time (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | about 5 years ago | (#29804081)

My post did not contain that information because I was responding to his concerns that irradiating food causes the food to be radioactive and to me it goes without saying that if something is already radioactive it will cause problems.

Re:Once upon a time (1)

TheLink (130905) | about 5 years ago | (#29805009)

Wonder what would happen if you used a geiger counter on a container filled with brazil nuts :).

Re:Once upon a time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29804803)

Well, cancer has an "substantially increased growth rate". So yes, higher growth rate due to radiation is quite common.

Re:Once upon a time (1)

abarrieris5eV (1659265) | about 5 years ago | (#29804313)

I'm not sure what you are referring to. I have heard that rare earth minerals were mixed in with soils in asia because they were believed to promote crop growth, though I have no idea if it's true. I have also heard that at nuclear test sites there was a zone after the area where everything was dead, but before things were normalized, where plant growth seemed to be accelerated, and that this may be the origin of OMG GIANT BUGZ movies that blamed radiation, also no idea if that is true. If anyone has some insight I would be interested.

Re:Once upon a time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29804575)

So? I eat irradiated food from the grocery store? Do you mean "radioactive" food? Being exposed to radiation does not make something radioactive, unless "they" are placing radioactive minerals into the soil and the plant is absorbing them... BTW what does your post have to do with the original topic?

But then again, "they" do some mysterious stuff, I is afeared.

I remember this finding... (1)

hort_wort (1401963) | about 5 years ago | (#29803667)

from many years ago. The experiment was two identical growing chambers using artificial sunlight. One was placed in a normal building, the other underneath a mountain or something shielded from cosmic rays like that. It had the same result: it was found that plants grew better when they were getting the radiation. Does anyone remember this experiment?

Re:I remember this finding... (1)

tabrnaker (741668) | about 5 years ago | (#29804319)

I'm curious as to whether you remember what qualified as 'better'. Bigger doesn't equal better in terms of many fruits/plants. Something i wish americans would learn with their produce.

Re:I remember this finding... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29804667)

Umm, a plant doesn't care how tasty you find its fruit.

A faster growing plant that gets larger quicker is "better" for its own purposes, most definitely. It will out compete its neighbors, have larger roots taking more water/nutrients from the environment and reach reproduction faster.

Re:I remember this finding... (3, Insightful)

tabrnaker (741668) | about 5 years ago | (#29804825)

Obviously you've never grown plants!
Get back to us when you have real knowledge and not 'book smarts'.

Re:I remember this finding... (0, Troll)

TheLink (130905) | about 5 years ago | (#29805017)

> Bigger doesn't equal better in terms of many fruits/plants. Something i wish americans would learn with their produce.

Aren't the "Americans" also growing bigger and not better too?

What else do you want them to "learn with their produce"?

Re:I remember this finding... (1)

tabrnaker (741668) | about 5 years ago | (#29805077)

If they could genetically modify them to increase my grammar skills would be a good place to start :)

Blame it on spanish being my mother tongue... not that i speak spanish anymore...

Radiation Horniness? (1)

sillivalley (411349) | about 5 years ago | (#29803715)

Damn, when I looked at it, I thought for sure it said "radiation horniness" -- following the sunspot cycle?

Why not?

People working with long distance radio communications -- whether it's LF for ships, ham radio, or spacecraft, knows the incredible variation the sunspot cycle can have on communications -- there are enormous swings in energy levels involved. Why shouldn't it show up in complex systems such as trees?

And yes, the link may be indirect, it may not be direct causation, merely correlation, but that's often a good reason to look again, more closely, as there may be something interesting going on.

Life imitates Gilligan's Island (2, Funny)

bigsexyjoe (581721) | about 5 years ago | (#29803845)

The cool thing is that you get super powers from eating the giant vegetables, too.

Re:Life imitates Gilligan's Island (1)

bcat24 (914105) | about 5 years ago | (#29804101)

I am so glad this post is here. Slashdot has restored my faith in humanity.

Paul Zindel (2, Funny)

sohp (22984) | about 5 years ago | (#29803893)

A 1964 publication by Paul Zindel entitled "The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds" predates this research by quite a bit.

Re:Paul Zindel (1)

mrbobjoe (830606) | about 5 years ago | (#29804183)

And here I was just thinking of The Colour Out of Space [] ...

Nitrogen Fixation (5, Insightful)

physburn (1095481) | about 5 years ago | (#29803903)

This is an easy mystery to solve. When a cosmic ray hits the atmosphere, it creates a shower of ionizing radiation, each of the secondary particles are enough to ionizing oxygen and nitrogen molecules in the atmosphere, forming nitrogen oxides, these react ready with water forming nitric acid, which will precipitate in dilute form in the rain. Only lightning and cosmic rays can form nitrogen oxide, and lightning is relatively rare, so the amount of available free nitrates in the soil, depends very much on the amount cosmic rays hitting the earth.

Plants of course need nitrogen to grow, the trouble is they can't absorb nitrogen from the atmosphere (except for Legumes (pea, and beans and similar plants)). So for the majority of plants and trees, not feed by human fertilizers, the amount of fertilizing nitrate available to them, is directly proportional the cosmic ray flux.

Mystery Solved.


Dark Matter [] Feed @ Feed Distiller []

Re:Nitrogen Fixation - NOT!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29803977)

No no no. You are supposed to be fixating on Superheros, not nitrogen!!!!!!

Re:Nitrogen Fixation (1)

Mr. Roadkill (731328) | about 5 years ago | (#29804193)

Don't forget vehicle exhausts as a potential source of nitrogen oxides.

Perhaps we should get rid of modern three-way catalytic converters [] and bring back the old two-way ones, in the interests of saving the planet and/or growing mutant super trees.

Re:Nitrogen Fixation (3, Interesting)

AJWM (19027) | about 5 years ago | (#29804445)

Only lightning and cosmic rays can form nitrogen oxide, and lightning is relatively rare,

Well no, lighting is fairly common, actually -- there's always a lighting storm going on somewhere. However, if one assumes that the global rate of lightning is fairly constant then given that the amount nitrogen oxides contributed by cosmic rays fluctuates, you'd still see a correlation. So you may be right.

Re:Nitrogen Fixation (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29804509)

Do we get to see your data now, or do we have to wait for your upcoming paper in The New Phytologist as well?

Re:Nitrogen Fixation (1)

Esteanil (710082) | about 5 years ago | (#29804527)

Wow. If correct, (a quick Google of 'cosmic radiation nitrogen fixation' returns this article as the first result...) this is probably the most informative on-topic comment I've ever seen on a Slashdot post.

Re:Nitrogen Fixation (1)

physburn (1095481) | about 5 years ago | (#29804989)

That's just Google being quick at indexing. Google finding it doesn't make it true. Somebody would have to do an calculation of amounts of nitrogen oxides made by cosmic rays against other source and, measure what fraction of tree growth is rate limited by nitrate abundance, to confirm it. But thanks mightily for the praise.

Cosmic Rays causing cloud cover? (1)

Sibko (1036168) | about 5 years ago | (#29803987)

I thought this was thoroughly debunked already.

The professor (1) (142825) | about 5 years ago | (#29804041)

The professor in Gilligans Island already determined this. Old news, nothing new here.

Simplification (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about 5 years ago | (#29804047)

Summary: trees get a hard-on for radiation.

Re:Simplification (1)

UltimApe (991552) | about 5 years ago | (#29804117)

trees grow wood for radiation?

Re:Simplification (1)

CptNerd (455084) | about 5 years ago | (#29804495)

Who doesn't?

Not puzzled, baffled (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29804111)

I contend that since they have no idea of the mechanism, they are not simply puzzled, but have clearly moved into BAFFLED territory. I mean if they had a few good guesses, maybe puzzled. I think TFA Article clearly indicates their BAFFLEMENT.

The Simpsons Had It Right. (2, Funny)

Ironlenny (1181971) | about 5 years ago | (#29804327)

Homer: If we learned one thing from "The Amazing Colossal Man" and "Grasshopperus," it's that radiation makes stuff grow real big, real fast.

Galactus (1)

jdc18 (1654245) | about 5 years ago | (#29804449)

Does this mean that Galactus is coming??

Re:Galactus (1)

CptNerd (455084) | about 5 years ago | (#29804501)

Only every 11 years, apparently, and only if the Earth is fertile enough...

Further ideas? (5, Funny)

kauttapiste (633236) | about 5 years ago | (#29804507)

Nevertheless, the researchers remain mystified and are requesting further ideas ...

Have they considered Ask Slashdot?

Cosmic radiation enhances tree growth? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29804617)

What about men with small dicks? Any enhanced growth there?

Complex Systems + Causality ... (2, Interesting)

foobsr (693224) | about 5 years ago | (#29804913)

Quote [] :"One of the reasons people have difficulty in dealing with complex systems is that the linear causal chain way of thinking - A causes B causes C causes D ... etc - breaks down in the presence of feedback and multiple interactions between causal and influence pathways. One could say that complex systems are characterised by networked rather than linear causal relationships."

Keeping that in mind, I tend to be of the opinion that the best guess regarding an isolated cause is '42'.


balancing global warming (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29805013)

if it helps trees grow, then it helps capture more carbon. why not study the positive effect of this on global warming?

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