Nature doesn't take punches like she used to. Nearly every environmental disaster over the past century has been our fault and it's easy to assume that we've recklessly forced the entire planet down a path of destruction. But every once in a while, Mother Nature surprises us with her resiliency, Wolverine-like healing abilities and willingness to step in and clean up our goddamn messes when we prove ourselves incompetent.
6The Chernobyl Fungus That Eats Radiation
Most of you reading this article are at least vaguely familiar with the Chernobyl disaster, a clusterfuck of experimentation and negligence that led to the worst nuclear plant disaster in history. It irradiated a huge area around the plant and left the neighboring town of Pripyat so much of a ghost town that we declared it one of the creepiest places on Earth. It's so apocalyptic that they've even based video game levels on it.
One of the less successful RollerCoaster Tycoon scenarios.
But even in this area that is as close to Fallout-like radioactive wasteland as real world can offer, life prevails. The dead, contaminated Red Forest created by the radiation is showing signs of life. Rare and endangered animals have found a safe haven in the area avoided by humans. And, inside the ominous plant -- on the Ground Zero site -- mushrooms are happily feasting on radiation.
That's right: There is life inside the reactor of Chernobyl. And it eats radiation.
We didn't say it looks cool
This radiotropic fungus has adapted to turn gamma radiation into food -- it's not the only organism that can absorb radiation, but it is by far the best at it. The fungus' radiation-eating properties obviously piqued scientists interests since it could help radically reduce radiation levels in contaminated areas. But there's also another reason science wants to take a closer look at the Chernobyl mushroom: The scientists are looking at ways to use the radiation absorbing fungus as food.
The resulting mutation into Mushroom Man did nothing for this
guy's social life, especially when he started releasing spores.
So to recap, the radiation hurts people, this mushroom eats radiation, people eat mushrooms. Hence, fuck you, radiation. Signed, people.
This could double as a way to combat high-radiation environments while simultaneously growing huge crops of edible mushrooms, which would come really handy in the event of nuclear disasters or during extended space travel. So, when we one day head for the stars for whatever reason, it is possible we'll do so in vessels that feature a four-inch thick coat of sweet, delicious mold on every wall.
"I may have accidentally ejected myself into space, but thank God I have this mold."
5The Heavy Metal Superworms That Feast on Poisonous Metals
Back in 2008, a group of U.K. scientists were collecting worms they found in landfills because they were curious how they were digesting the garbage, and because being a scientist is sometimes a shitty job.
"I've discovered that poop holds the secret of immortality! Also, my wife has left me."
Under the microscope, these worms were far from ordinary. They ate things that would kill ordinary earthworms, which, we'd like to remind you, already eat the goddamn earth. What could these new worms use for sustenance that ordinary worms couldn't?
The fires of war, if we've learned anything from Worms Armageddon.
Fucking metal, that's what. Namely, the highly poisonous heavy metals found in abandoned mining sites such as lead, zinc, copper and even arsenic.
And the best part? They use only the worst poisons in these metals for sustenance. So what they crap out is basically a cleaner, virtually poison free version of the metal. The purifying effect of the worms is such that the soil they produce -- previously of the "skull & crossbones" variety -- can actually sustain plant life; single-handedly bringing entire areas back to life.
Paradise. Brought to you by worm crap.
Also, this is not just one mutant variety of worms -- it looks like there are three separate species that have attained this poison-eating ability, so it is not at all impossible that the all of wormkind has had enough of our uselessness and decided to roll up their sleeves to fix everything themselves.
Three of these worms care. The other one thinks you're an asshole.