Scientists have now taught spinach to send emails warning of landmines

Feb 2nd

In case you were wondering where our state of technology is at, scientists have now built a system where spinach can communicate with us.

How this will be used in the coming apocalypse is unknown, but for the moment, the system was developed by MIT to help detect the presence of explosives like landmines that might be present in war-torn regions or areas that saw past conflict. The landmine issue has led to significant tracts of arable land lying fallow for years.

Here's how it works:

  1. Scientists plant some spinach
  2. When the roots of the plant come in contact with nitroaromatics – compounds often found in explosives – the carbon nanotubes in the plant's leaves emit a signal that can be detected by an infrared camera.
  3. When said camera discovers a patch of spinach making such a signal, it sends an email warning that an explosive device has been found.
  4. Authorities head to the area and carefully remove said explosive.

"Plants are very good analytical chemists," said the lead researcher, Professor Michael Strano. "They have an extensive root network in the soil, are constantly sampling groundwater, and have a way to self-power the transport of that water up into the leaves."

Strano believes such technology can be applied in other areas as well. Because plants have various signals or structural changes based on weather and soil conditions, they could also be used to predict when a drought is coming.

"Plants are very environmentally responsive," he said. "They know that there is going to be a drought long before we do. They can detect small changes in the properties of soil and water potential. If we tap into those chemical signaling pathways, there is a wealth of information to access."

Spinach is also apparently being used as the secret ingredient in next-gen batteries. I mean, why not?

Like all technologies, I'm sure this new domain of human-plant communications will be weaponized, but at least the vegans can rest easy when the trees come to destroy us all.


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