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Gold Nanoparticles Turn Trees Into Streetlights

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the elf-approved dept.

Earth 348

An anonymous reader writes "Street lights are an important part of our urban infrastructure — they light our way home and make the roads safe at night. But what if we could create natural street lights that don't need electricity to power them? A group of scientists in Taiwan recently discovered that placing gold nanoparticles within the leaves of trees causes them to give off a luminous reddish glow. The idea of using trees to replace street lights is an ingenious one — not only would it save on electricity costs and cut CO2 emissions, but it could also greatly reduce light pollution in major cities."

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Ha! (3, Funny)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 3 years ago | (#34191060)

I welcome our reddish glowing leafy overlords.

Re:Ha! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34191094)

I want an Asian girlfriend. I want one so fucking badly. ;_;

Every night I imagine finding myself a sweet Asian girl who just got dumped by her cruel and sadistic boyfriend. And I would take her into my home and introduce her to American home cooking. And at first she would be all shy and polite with her head bowed and expect me to abuse her like her Asian boyfriends, but I wouldn't. I would get her on her feet, allow her to stand tall and let her know it was okay to look me in the eye. And she would start trembling and crying and breaking down in my arms and I would just hug her and kiss her and let her know that no man would ever lay a harmful hand on her ever again.

Then I would teach her the Western concepts of freedom and self-determination. And I would make love to her tenderly and she would be so grateful for a man that actually cares about her pleasure and her hopes and dreams for once. She would become a successful musician or businesswoman and we would raise beautiful Eurasian kids together. ;_;

Re:Ha! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34191466)

wuss

Re:Ha! (4, Informative)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 3 years ago | (#34191208)

Yes! And the additional health-benefit [nih.gov] of inhaling loose, blowing nano-particles [nanowerk.com] - and the subsequent introduction to the pulmonary systems of city-dwellers [discovermagazine.com] - is surely the cincher on this!

Re:Ha! (2)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 3 years ago | (#34191344)

Gold is a bit "healthier" than other, more reactive, metals. But not sure how much worse would be compared with what (fuel powered) cars already do.

Now... (3, Interesting)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#34191062)

Make it occur naturally.

Or rather - aren't there some kinds of mushrooms and other flora that glow in the dark? Why not just splice that plant with a tree. I know, I use the term splice like its an easy task.

Re:Now... (1)

ajrs (186276) | more than 3 years ago | (#34191138)

Make it occur naturally.

Or rather - aren't there some kinds of mushrooms and other flora that glow in the dark? Why not just splice that plant with a tree. I know, I use the term splice like its an easy task.

actually, splicing is fairly easy with trees- or did you mean genetic splicing?

Re:Now... (1)

pspahn (1175617) | more than 3 years ago | (#34191210)

When you say 'easy', sure, the mechanics of it are pretty simple, but there is a lot of science that goes into figuring out which root stocks are the best for different grafted tops. It's not exactly as simple as "graft random root stock to random top".

I am certainly no expert on the anatomy of mushrooms, but I would imagine that a tree's vascular system is dramatically different than a mushroom. Don't think that would be possible. You would be better off trying to get the mushrooms to simply grow in the wood normally, as they can often be found growing out of canker rot or other dead tissue.

Re:Now... (4, Insightful)

xaxa (988988) | more than 3 years ago | (#34191392)

Mushrooms are fungi and trees are plants... you may as well try and cross a dog with a sunflower.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kingdom_(biology) [wikipedia.org]

Hush now (-1, Flamebait)

tygerstripes (832644) | more than 3 years ago | (#34191506)

GP was talking about a totally different type of "splicing" that everyone in this thread knows more about than you. Also, they probably know more about genetic splicing than you, since you've conflated splicing with hybridising in your mind.

Now go play and let the grown-ups talk.

Re:Now... (4, Funny)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 3 years ago | (#34191264)

Look pal, I saw that movie. I'm willing to invite reddish glowing leafy overlords, but I put my foot down at glowing leafy fungal overlords.

Re:Now... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34191372)

Why not go all the way and genetically modify infants to have cat like night vision? Think of how much energy we would save!!!

Re:Now... (1)

tmosley (996283) | more than 3 years ago | (#34191378)

It is an easy task--at least much easier than introducing gold nanoparticles into thousands of trees somehow. Bioluminescence genes spliced into the germline will give you completely free lighting, rather than having to spend money on nano-gold.

Re:Now... (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 3 years ago | (#34191432)

The neo-luddites will have more of a hissy fit over "frankentrees" than they will with nanoparticles.

The protesting NIMBY crowd will make genetically modified trees more expensive than ounces or pounds of gold made into nanoparticles.

Re:Now... (2, Insightful)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 3 years ago | (#34191400)

aren't there some kinds of mushrooms and other flora that glow in the dark?

Yeah, but they're not quite as ubiquitous along paths you'd like to light up as -trees- are. They also don't seem to be bright enough.

Why not just splice that plant with a tree

There's the issue of releasing genetically engineered organisms into the environment. If they were spending significant amounts of energy glowing at night, they might not grow as well as normal trees, if you spliced something in to make them artificially competitive you'd worry about that leaking out into other plants.

Re:Now... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34191416)

First of all, they're shining high wavelength ultraviolet light at the chlorophyll in the leaves (useless in New England this time of year). This is not an advance in passive lighting but basically a molecular version of putting florescent paint on plants. It is a conversion of projected light. Secondly, the article doesn't state how much UV light is required so there's no way to know whether this is even a reasonable replacement in terms of energy savings (to say nothing of how hard it is to set up gold-leaf trees instead of street lights). That this is even considered a replacement for real streetlights here on Slashdot is a pure flight of fantasy. You might as well talk about how Unicorns will replace chicken as a primary protein source for Americans.

Save electricity, sure (3, Insightful)

afidel (530433) | more than 3 years ago | (#34191070)

Yeah because mining gold and refining it and the turning it into nano-particles takes zero energy....

Re:Save electricity, sure (3, Informative)

kikito (971480) | more than 3 years ago | (#34191082)

And it is very cheap.

Re:Save electricity, sure (2, Funny)

SQLGuru (980662) | more than 3 years ago | (#34191126)

They can probably just harvest the gold they need from all of our e-waste since that proecess is so cheap and good for the environment. It's a win-win.

Re:Save electricity, sure (5, Insightful)

vux984 (928602) | more than 3 years ago | (#34191144)

Yeah because mining gold and refining it and the turning it into nano-particles takes zero energy....

Wrong question.

The question is whether it use less energy than mining, refining, manufacturing natural resources into compete LED based solutions, and then deploying and running them.

Re:Save electricity, sure (1)

medv4380 (1604309) | more than 3 years ago | (#34191246)

Yea, but running up gold prices even more sounds like fun.

Re:Save electricity, sure (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 3 years ago | (#34191390)

Not sure how much gold we are talking for a tree or even a bunch of them... maybe the one that had your old PC had more than enough.

Deforest the roadways... (5, Insightful)

RobertM1968 (951074) | more than 3 years ago | (#34191072)

I'd be chopping down trees everywhere!!!!

Nah, I know the particles are so small it would make the effort a waste of time. That aside, on a serious note, what happens to the "streetlights" when the Fall comes each year?

Re:Deforest the roadways... (1)

cobrausn (1915176) | more than 3 years ago | (#34191146)

That aside, on a serious note, what happens to the "streetlights" when the Fall comes each year?

Doesn't really matter here in the Southwest, as fall and winter together seem to last about a month.

Re:Deforest the roadways... (1)

RobertM1968 (951074) | more than 3 years ago | (#34191440)

That aside, on a serious note, what happens to the "streetlights" when the Fall comes each year?

Doesn't really matter here in the Southwest, as fall and winter together seem to last about a month.

Sure it does... one still has to "re-gold" the trees each year. And a month of no streetlights on streets that are required to have them every night is also problematic (lawsuits, fines, etc).

Re:Deforest the roadways... (5, Funny)

snowraver1 (1052510) | more than 3 years ago | (#34191178)

Use fir trees. Bonus: Your X-mas tree no longer needs lights!

Re:Deforest the roadways... (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 3 years ago | (#34191462)

Doesn't fly up here in Alaska, even in Anchorage the trees are all off line for the winter. We are mostly birches this far north.

Re:Deforest the roadways... (2, Funny)

dwywit (1109409) | more than 3 years ago | (#34191194)

1. Buy a broom

2. ????

3. Profit!

Re:Deforest the roadways... (2, Insightful)

pspahn (1175617) | more than 3 years ago | (#34191276)

The plant these guys used in TFA is a perennial, so it's not going to matter until they can figure out how to do the same in a large tree. At that point, I would imagine they would focus efforts on broadleaf evergreens (boxwoods, euonymous, some others). I don't know why conifers wouldn't be possible either, there's just generally a much lower surface area.

Re:Deforest the roadways... (1)

RobertM1968 (951074) | more than 3 years ago | (#34191472)

The plant these guys used in TFA is a perennial, so it's not going to matter until they can figure out how to do the same in a large tree. At that point, I would imagine they would focus efforts on broadleaf evergreens (boxwoods, euonymous, some others). I don't know why conifers wouldn't be possible either, there's just generally a much lower surface area.

What the hell?!?!?! C'mon!!!! There's a rule here against RTFA!!!!

Oh, wait... I forgot... The rule actually is:
- one set of people here needs to NOT RTFA
- the other set has to RTFA so they can tell the first group of people they shoulda RTFA.

Next week I think I am in the "Must RTFA" group.

;-)

Re:Deforest the roadways... (1)

pspahn (1175617) | more than 3 years ago | (#34191544)

Sorry. I've been illustrating trees all day and had to find something relevant to work while at the same time a little distracting.

Autumn (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34191084)

The nice thing about street lights, though, is that they don't fall off every autumn.

Re:Autumn (3, Funny)

cstdenis (1118589) | more than 3 years ago | (#34191358)

Maybe not where YOU live.

Even better (5, Funny)

Hope Thelps (322083) | more than 3 years ago | (#34191088)

A group of scientists in Taiwan recently discovered that placing gold nanoparticles within the leaves of trees, causes them to give off a luminous reddish glow.

Even better, a group of US capitalists has discovered that setting fire to the trees produces an even more luminous glow, at no cost to the company, keeping the gold available for executive bonuses.

Re:Even better (1)

Anne_Nonymous (313852) | more than 3 years ago | (#34191386)

>> discovered that setting fire to the trees produces an even more luminous glow*

*Patent Pending

When I Was a Kid (3, Insightful)

pete-classic (75983) | more than 3 years ago | (#34191092)

When I was a kid, sprinkling heavy metals around was considered a bad thing.

My, how times change.

-Peter

Re:When I Was a Kid (2, Interesting)

M. Baranczak (726671) | more than 3 years ago | (#34191172)

Gold is a "heavy metal", but it's non-toxic. That's why they can make dental crowns out of it.

There are many reasons why this is a stupid idea, but that isn't one of them.

Re:When I Was a Kid (1)

pete-classic (75983) | more than 3 years ago | (#34191334)

Just goes to show what you can learn by posting snarky comments on slashdot!

-Peter

Re:When I Was a Kid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34191430)

Erm.... we make (made, almost) fillings from mercury and lead. Just saying.

Re:When I Was a Kid (1)

Pseudonym Authority (1591027) | more than 3 years ago | (#34191188)

Re:When I Was a Kid (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#34191346)

Drinking it won't harm you, too. [wikipedia.org] Well, sort of...

PS. Street lighting is as much about perception of safety (drinking the above helps also with that BTW). Even if I'd like something which impacts night vision less (red light is a very good direction)...many people probably wouldn't. In truth, it could complicate effectiveness of stop lights. Some people could also get the idea that it's a conspiracy to turn everything into red districts...

Re:When I Was a Kid (1)

xaxa (988988) | more than 3 years ago | (#34191402)

I'm not bothered about street lighting for reducing crime -- I use it to see my way home when it's dark!

Re:When I Was a Kid (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#34191554)

Same thing applies, too often people want to trick themselves into almost daylight-like perception, "the more the better."

Winter? (4, Insightful)

Necron69 (35644) | more than 3 years ago | (#34191096)

I can see at least one problem with this idea...

Necron69

Re:Winter? (1)

diskofish (1037768) | more than 3 years ago | (#34191368)

Conifers?

Re:Winter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34191548)

Snow?

Re:Winter? (1)

Joe Snipe (224958) | more than 3 years ago | (#34191426)

For a second I thought you were saying Necron69 was the problem

Fluorescence effect (5, Informative)

Scareduck (177470) | more than 3 years ago | (#34191098)

By implanting the gold nanoparticles into the leaves of the Bacopa caroliniana plants, the scientists were able to induce the chlorophyll in the leaves to produce a red emission. Under a high wavelength of ultraviolet light, the gold nanoparticles were able to produce a blue-violet fluorescence to trigger a red emission in the surrounding chlorophyll.

So it appears as though the effect requires an outside energy source to be useful. Nothing to see here, move on.

Re:Fluorescence effect (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34191186)

You mean like THE SUN?

Re:Fluorescence effect (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34191250)

duh, why hasn't anybody thought of that before?
who needs streetlights at night when you've got THE SUN

Re:Fluorescence effect (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34191268)

Because we REALLY need glowing trees in the daytime

Re:Fluorescence effect (1)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | more than 3 years ago | (#34191518)

Not much sunlight at night, which is when you'd really want these things.

Re:Fluorescence effect (1)

snoop.daub (1093313) | more than 3 years ago | (#34191212)

Yeah seriously... we really want UV beamed down into the trees so we can produce light at night? Only Corey Hart will be happy about that...

Re:Fluorescence effect (1)

mug funky (910186) | more than 3 years ago | (#34191398)

if i had mod points...

you've got that sodding song in my head now.

Re:Fluorescence effect (1)

Khyber (864651) | more than 3 years ago | (#34191508)

The moon reflects a fair amount of UV back to the earth. Never had a moon tan before?

Re:Fluorescence effect (1)

nomel (244635) | more than 3 years ago | (#34191214)

Agreed. A very very small portion of the UV light will end up actually causing fluorescence. At least with standard fluorescent bulbs, almost all of the UV light will be converted. This is more more like using a spotlight pointed up at the sky that's shining on confetti to light the surroundings.

save money? (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 3 years ago | (#34191100)

I am sure that gold nanoparticles in leaves that need to be replaced at least once a year are going to be really cheap. Plus if you RTFA, they need to shine a black light on the trees to get them to glow and that will suck up a lot more power than the LEDs that glowing trees could replace.

Energy for the tree? (1)

seven of five (578993) | more than 3 years ago | (#34191104)

OK, so while the tree's giving off light, can it still make sugars etc and feed itself?

Awesome. (3, Interesting)

pspahn (1175617) | more than 3 years ago | (#34191106)

I am speaking strictly out of self-interest here when I say this would be incredibly awesome.

As someone who's family has been in the tree business for a few generations, I would love our products to have a new utility that people actually see as practical. Currently, not many consumers understand that trees are not just for aesthetics, but can provide many practical benefits. Make 'em light up and people (municipalities, really) will be all over 'em.

Re:Awesome. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34191448)

In addition to making it look like you live in Caras Galadhon. This is a good thing.

moon light (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34191116)

It's not viable for the same reason why we do not turn off our lights during full moon.

Wait, what the... ?!? (2, Insightful)

c (8461) | more than 3 years ago | (#34191124)

> but it could also greatly reduce light pollution in major cities.

By replacing street lights with a different kind of street light? One without an apparent "off" switch?

It would seem to make more sense to just reduce the number of lights, or make them smart enough to be on-demand.

Re:Wait, what the... ?!? (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 3 years ago | (#34191166)

...or stop calling light "pollution"

Re:Wait, what the... ?!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34191270)

No nobody's died yet from light pollution, but if people pulled their head out of their ass long enough to look at what's left of the stars, they might even realize that light shining "up" is wasted.

Re:Wait, what the... ?!? (1)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 3 years ago | (#34191336)

And putting reflectors on existing light-sources is a far less efficient manner of dealing with this than making glow-in-UV-light trees... which will need to be uncovered in daylight because otherwise they won't get enough light.

Yes we get it, gold nanoparticles make cool effects - but they will do absolutly nothing else - its not cheaper, environmentally friendly or reduces light pollution.

Re:Wait, what the... ?!? (2, Informative)

nomel (244635) | more than 3 years ago | (#34191254)

Read the article. The trees don't just glow...they glow because a UV light is shining on it, converting the UV to visible, similar to a standard fluorescent light...except with a standard light, you get nearly all of the UV interacting with the fluorescing particles...and it doesn't have to go through glass, which isn't so good/cheap at transmitting UV.

Never more appropriate... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34191142)

Pics or it didn't happen.

Seriously, if you don't have a prototype, STFU.

Hey I have an idea (1)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 3 years ago | (#34191152)

Why not like stick a solar panel on top to power a few LEDs as the lightpost?

I'm pretty sure its cheaper and more environmentally friendly then inserting Gold Nanoparticles and then shining light with a specific wavelenght.

Re:Hey I have an idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34191526)

Why not like stick a solar panel on top to power a few LEDs as [sic] the lightpost?

Because when there is light for a solar panel to gather you don't need the street light... Oh, wait, was the battery implied? Yes, lets have China manufacture hundreds of millions of large, nickel filled toxic batteries that our diligent municipalities will then install and maintain/replace so they don't leak everywhere when subjected to 50 C temperature differentials. They won't neglect the batteries as they do the roads/schools/jails/sewers/parks. Also, have clouds outlawed to keep the hundreds of millions of Chinese solar panels in photons; costly deep cycle batteries much be charged.

Is this really bioluminescence? (4, Informative)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 3 years ago | (#34191182)

The article says:

...A lot of light emitting diode, especially white light emitting diode, uses phosphor powder to stimulate light of different wavelengths. However, phosphor powder is highly toxic and its price is expensive. As a result, Dr. Yen-Hsun Wu had the idea to discover a method that is less toxic to replace phosphor powder. ...
By implanting the gold nanoparticles into the leaves of the Bacopa caroliniana plants, the scientists were able to induce the chlorophyll in the leaves to produce a red emission. Under a high wavelength of ultraviolet light, the gold nanoparticles were able to produce a blue-violet fluorescence to trigger a red emission in the surrounding chlorophyll.

So it sounds like the trees need a "high wavelength of ultraviolet light" to get them to glow. Seems like they are just replacing the phosphor that makes a white LED glow with these gold implanted leaves. But you'd still need a UV light source (which could be an array of UV LED's?).

I'm not sure that this is really an environmental win -- replacing an array of white LED's that last 10 years with an array of UV LED's that point to trees that need their leaves to be impregnated with gold (and replaced annually?) doesn't sound all that environmentally friendly. How bad is the LED phosphor for the environment?

Re:Is this really bioluminescence? (3, Informative)

Un pobre guey (593801) | more than 3 years ago | (#34191316)

Not to mention that people would be exposed to significant UV light at night, when their pupils are most dilated. So we get retinal damage, skin cancer, plus the cost of deploying both the gold nanoparticles and the large-scale UV light infrastructure.

How did this story make it into the news stream? Why can't my goofy half-baked ideas get me fame and fortune?

Re:Is this really bioluminescence? (1)

Zorpheus (857617) | more than 3 years ago | (#34191542)

Why can't my goofy half-baked ideas get me fame and fortune?

Maybe you should also make up a story on how it might be useful to solve the greatest problems of mankind.

Re:Is this really bioluminescence? (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#34191330)

And how bad is intense UV light on everything else? (Hint: Tanning Booths)

Unless we're trying to make the world look like Avatar, I just don't see the point. Somebody else's idea to genetically manipulate plants to produce natural phosphorescence makes quite a bit more sense (and likely quite a bit harder).

Nothing to see here, move along.

Re:Is this really bioluminescence? (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#34191424)

Unless we're trying to make the world look like Avatar

That might have been the point of this research...

Re:Is this really bioluminescence? (2, Interesting)

Target Practice (79470) | more than 3 years ago | (#34191388)

The article (more of a quick summary) doesn't really say specifically what wavelength of UV is needed for the stuff to glow, but if the wavelength needed is what makes it to the Earth's surface from the Sun, that could explain their excitement.

Also, it seems some of the interest comes from the luminescent leaves absorbing their own light back in for photosynthesis. I wish that article were more in depth, since it seems we're getting half the story.

...and what about the UV lamp? (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34191196)

Once again, proof that journalists should just stick to describing the research rather than coming up with groundbreaking applications which, as you'd almost certainly expect, don't work. The nanoparticles don't make the leaves glow "naturally", you have to shine UV light on them. Then they fluoresce red. But if you want to light streets using this technology, can I recommend just coating the UV light with leaves and doing away with the tree (we don't want to waste UV light after all)? In fact, ignore the leaves - just use a fluorophore. Actually, better yet, why not use a fluorophore that doesn't emit red light? How about something more akin to natural light, like yellow? And make it sensitive to blue light rather than UV (because generating UV is harder). And finally, while we're at it, make the light source solid-state.

Congratulations, you've just invented the white LED.

Re:...and what about the UV lamp? (1)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 3 years ago | (#34191310)

just use a fluorophore. Actually, better yet, why not use a fluorophore that doesn't emit red light?

To be fair, the article did answer your question:

However, phosphor powder is highly toxic and its price is expensive.

It's not clear that replacing the fluorescing phosphor coating and an entire tree is really a better solution, but they did say why they want to replace the phosphor.

Laurelin! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34191220)

How long before Telperion and the silmarils are created?

Ultraviolet light (2, Interesting)

topham (32406) | more than 3 years ago | (#34191226)

They are shining an ultraviolet light on the trees, with the gold particles they are glowing red by transforming the ultraviolet to red light.

neat, but kinda useless as ultraviolet is dangerous. (not useless on a small scale; but you can't go and light up a neighbourhood with ultraviolet)

Gold Trees: Oppulence...I has it (2, Funny)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 3 years ago | (#34191240)

But, I also likes savings the electricity

Laurelin Technologies Inc. (5, Funny)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 3 years ago | (#34191252)

Valar call prior art!

One step closer to the glow in the dark gold fish? (1)

kevorkian (142533) | more than 3 years ago | (#34191286)

I for one welcome this .. Sounds like one step closer to the glow in the dark gold fish that sheldon promised us !!

Also, screw up the nature !!! (1, Troll)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#34191288)

in ways which we yet cannot fathom, by disturbing the natural rhythm that trees developed in billions of years of evolution for day/night cycles...

Re:Also, screw up the nature !!! (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#34191456)

We are causing sixth extinction event as is anyway; I'm quite willing to accept that such tinkering with city trees won't make much difference.

I can wait! (1)

b4upoo (166390) | more than 3 years ago | (#34191312)

Trees shed leaves all the time. How many baskets of leaves will it take to contain one ounce of gold? I can hardly wait.

This doesn't make sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34191326)

A phosphor powder is part of an LED, which is a solid state device. If a phosphor powder is used in anything, it is likely to be zinc sulfide, not particularly toxic. The emission of light requires an ultraviolet stimulation, so it isn't free energy. Does any part of this make sense?

Overclocking the tree? (1)

uzd4ce (1916592) | more than 3 years ago | (#34191328)

From TFA: "... the bio-LED luminescence will cause the chloroplast to conduct photosynthesis"

I wonder how the trees will react to this extended duty cycle. Will they grow faster? Will they die sooner? Will they mutate into Ents?

Re:Overclocking the tree? (1)

Khyber (864651) | more than 3 years ago | (#34191546)

Having tested this on trees just a couple of feet from my balcony, I have caused earlier leafbud formation and much fuller development of early foliage by irradiating the tree with red and blue light.

Somewhere... (1)

bobdotorg (598873) | more than 3 years ago | (#34191332)

... an astronomer's head just exploded.

How much light pollution with these emit?

oh really? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34191340)

"...not only would it save on electricity costs and cut CO2 emissions, but it could also greatly reduce light pollution in major cities."

What a stupid thing to say. If they provide enough light to replace street lights, then they contribute just as much to light pollution as the street lights do.

Rube Goldberg Machine (1)

quatin (1589389) | more than 3 years ago | (#34191350)

We can use an oak tree, with gold injected into it's leaves, a high power UV light generator to induce a reddish glow and a variable CO2 generator to adjust brightness.

Street lights do NOT waste electricity (yet) (4, Interesting)

inviolet (797804) | more than 3 years ago | (#34191364)

Unless and until we switch over to electric cars en masse, street lights are NOT wasting electricity.

One of the two primary purposes of street lights is to consume the power generated by base-load powerplants that mu$t spin 24/7. Without our vast numbers of street lights, night-time voltages would rise above 130 and start frying your appliances.

Ever wondered why the electric company does not charge money, if you ask them to add a street light to the pole near your house? That's the reason.

Re:Street lights do NOT waste electricity (yet) (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#34191484)

Worst case - it can be stored (and is) in pumped-storage hydroelectric facilities.

Re:Street lights do NOT waste electricity (yet) (1)

Khyber (864651) | more than 3 years ago | (#34191558)

Thermodynamics would like to disagree with out.

Especially given the typical HID only emits about 30% of power drawn as light, the rest is heat and non-visible wavelengths. The surface of said bulbs hits almost a thousand degrees.

Might work for part of the year (1)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | more than 3 years ago | (#34191412)

This might work for part of the year, but what about the time from November through April when most trees have lost their leaves? Also, how much energy will be needed to collect all of those fallen leaves since gold, like oil, is not a limitless resource.

Interesting but meaningless (1)

gustgr (695173) | more than 3 years ago | (#34191458)

From a geekish point of view the idea is pretty neat. Who wouldn't like a bonsai lamp on his desk?

But using such a technology in public trees to replace street lights? Doesn't sound too good for me. What about the animals which dwell on the trees? Not only birds and squirrels, but also invertebrates, reptiles and other small mammals which have nocturnal life and depended on the absence of light to feed, to hunt, to reproduce, to be hunted, etc. This isn't Middle-Earth, they haven't evolved for an environment where leaves give off luminous glow.

Changing the environment (for worst) is not restricted to dumping tons of CO2 on the atmosphere. People haven't got that yet?

Fixed amount of energy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34191480)

As it is now, trees use the energy they recieve from the sun to power their growth.
Any light emitted would be consuming energy.
There is a fixed amount of energy available to the tree (the amount of sunlight it recieves).

If we want trees to glow, we'll have dead trees. Unless we feed them extra energy somehow, which leaves us right back at square one.

Cost? (1)

bananaquackmoo (1204116) | more than 3 years ago | (#34191510)

Nobody mentioned the price? Really? I mean, gold isn't exactly cheap last I checked...

Pandora? (0)

SpryGuy (206254) | more than 3 years ago | (#34191556)

So... the proposal is to turn Earth into something like Pandora, with all its night-glowy goodness? Is that it?

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