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Fungus Fire Spores With 180,000 G Acceleration 69

Posted by timothy
from the easy-at-that-size dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Although a variety of spore discharge processes have evolved among the fungi, those with the longest ranges are powered by hydrostatic pressure and include 'squirt guns' that are most common in the Ascomycota and Zygomycota. In these fungi, fluid-filled stalks that support single spores or spore-filled sporangia, or cells called asci that contain multiple spores, are pressurized by osmosis. Because spores are discharged at such high speeds, most of the information on launch processes from previous studies has been inferred from mathematical models and is subject to a number of errors, but now Nicholas Money, an expert on fungi at Miami University, has recorded the discharges with high-speed cameras at 250,000 frames-a-second and discovered that fungi fire their spores with accelerations up to 180,000 g, calling it 'the fastest flight in nature.' Money and his students, in a justified fit of ecstasy, have created a video of the first fungus opera."
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Fungus Fire Spores With 180,000 G Acceleration

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  • Nematocysts (Score:5, Insightful)

    by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn&gmail,com> on Tuesday October 07, 2008 @09:24AM (#25284933) Journal
    Nature has other fast biological processes. I will cite the Nematocyst [wikipedia.org] cells that jellyfish employ to inject poison into their victims.

    Essentially creatures like jellyfish have cells that contain what looks like a coiled rope marinating in poison ... when the cell is stimulated, it squeezes and fires the rope out through the small opening on the outside of the cell and sends a rigid looking line instantly out several feet. This was thought to be one of the fastest biological processes for a while as estimates have placed the force on these coils to be 40,000 g to millions of gs.

    I saw a discovery channel special on this once and the video footage they showed up close of these cells reacting just gave you a skin crawling sensation all over your body. But after seeing that, it's no wonder certain box jellyfish [wikipedia.org] or the Portuguese Man O' Wars (not actually jellyfish but a colony of Siphonophorae) [wikipedia.org] can put poison through your skin, through your flesh and down to your bones/organs instantly.
  • by Bananatree3 (872975) on Tuesday October 07, 2008 @09:28AM (#25285003)
    I'm guessing you've got little problems with receiving grants?
  • Fungus/fungi (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 07, 2008 @09:30AM (#25285039)

    Fungus fires spores, or

    Fungi fire spores

    Pick one or the other

  • Zerg! (Score:5, Funny)

    by chill (34294) on Tuesday October 07, 2008 @09:33AM (#25285077) Journal

    Zerg Spore Colonies in Starcraft. Better get 'em while they're young, from a safe distance. Watch for the rush.

  • That's SO Money!

    http://www.builderonline.com/Images/BD050701063L2_tcm10-12885.jpg

  • acceleration !=fast (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Thelasko (1196535) on Tuesday October 07, 2008 @09:38AM (#25285141) Journal
    I would have called it the quickest flight in nature, but that's not entirely accurate either.
    • Sorry, for 99.9% of the general public and 98% of slashdot, the terms used are perfectly acceptable. And even someone as erudite as you got the intended meaning as well. Let it go.
  • by nasor (690345) on Tuesday October 07, 2008 @09:38AM (#25285157)
    Nicholas Money has taken some video "shots" of these fungi firing their spores everywhere?
    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Asci porn is so 80's. What's this doing on the Slashdot front page?

  • Perhaps, if we were to plant spore sacs in your brain organ and let its tendrils spread through your flesh, then you would truly understand Juffo-Wup... become part of Juffo-Wup.

    • by LSD-OBS (183415)

      A single spore lands, finds nourishment in decay and attains maturity.. In turn it exhales a cloud of life, a thousand spores land... so progresses Juffo-Wup.

      The Juffo-Wup is strong in this place.

    • by Coraon (1080675)
      What makes this world so special to you?
    • by zapakh (1256518)
      What? Sorry, you spazzed out there for a second.
  • by Talking Goat (645295) on Tuesday October 07, 2008 @09:57AM (#25285451)
    I have to see a starship firing off missiles with this kind of action. Replace fungal-goo with plasma, spore with warhead, and you'd have an awesomely unique design concept for space weaponry.
    • by mikael (484)

      I remember Xenon 2 [imageshack.us] - it had some amazing shaded/animated fungi and blobby things that exploded when you fired at them.

    • by nedlohs (1335013)

      You mean like the bugs in Starship Troopers, though they were slow motion anti-air (well anti-orbiting space craft maybe) shots...

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by StrawberryFrog (67065)

      So long as the warhead only weighs as much as a tiny spore, that should work well.

  • You are a pretty sick puppy when fungus causes any type of "fit of ecstasy".

  • Those videos don't look all that unfamiliar.

    /hint hint
    /nudge nudge
  • I can tag it "latex," or "latency" but not "late," despite typing late into the box and making sure that was all that was there when I hit enter. I was stupid enough to try the experimental index system and now I can't go back. Woe is me.

    http://dsc.discovery.com/news/2008/09/17/fungi-spore-speed.html [discovery.com]

    • by stjobe (78285)

      Try this: Click "Help & Preferences", click "Index", uncheck the "Use Beta Index" box.

      Now, woe can be someone else!

    • by HTH NE1 (675604)

      Some tag keywords (story, comment, nix, nod, etc.) are reserved for internal use instead of being sequestered into an isolated name space (i.e. internal tags could start with underscore and users prevented from creating tags starting with underscore).

  • This extreme level of G force reminds me of something that's always messed with my head regarding acceleration.

    Shouldn't Stopping be impossible?

    I'll explain. Assuming you've a steady linear deceleration and it takes you 10 seconds to come to a stop. The closer you get to 10 seconds, the closer you are to zero velocity. However at some point, you have to reach 0m/s. The problem is, going from any value even something amazingly small like 1 x 10^-99999m/s to 0m/s instantly would be infinate G's. It could

    • Arrow and turtle. If your position is time^2 for time < 0 and 0 (stopped) for time >= 0 then there is no infinite acceleration anywhere along the line. Do the d/dtime calculations and see (hint: d/dx(x^2)=2x ).
    • What's the problem? You don't do it instantly but take some time. Duh...

      • by bruins01 (992422)
        He's saying that no matter how slowly you are going before you stop, you still need infinite acceleration to actually reach 0 m/s.
        • Why? Acceleration is simply the rate of change of velocity. If you decelerate from 2m/s to 1m/s in some amount of time, then you can decelerate from 1m/s to 0m/s in the same amount of time with the same deceleration rate (g's).

          There's nothing special about 0m/s compared to any other velocity, except that he's chosen to stop decelerating when he hits 0m/s. He could choose to continue decelerating which would give him a negative velocity (like -1m/s). Alternately, he could have simply chosen to stop decel

    • Say you're in a car, braking, and assume constant deceleration -- call this constant value a. Then velocity decreases linearly to zero, at which point (say this happens at time t = t_s) the acceleration discontinuously changes from a to zero. Notice that the acceleration is bounded below by 0 and above by a; it is always finite -- so all inertial forces here are bounded.

      What is infinite is the jerk, which is the time-derivative of acceleration. In this example, the jerk is zero for all t not equal to t_s

    • by Spykk (823586)
      This sounds like a variation on the old paradox: To walk across a room, you must first walk half of the distance. To walk half the distance, you must first walk half of that. There are an infinite number of half distances that must be travelled before reaching a destination, so how do we get anywhere?
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Daimanta (1140543)

        That's easily solved by Calculus. An infinite number of additions can result in a finite number.

        Example: Consider 1/3 (one third)

        Written our it's 0,3333333333333....

        You can turn that into a sum namely

        0,3 + 0,03 + 0,003 + 0,0003 + .....

        You can write that as a sum //Forgive the crappyness of plain-text // Slashdot is many years behind on this one...

        Sum from n=1 to n=infinity of 3/10^n

        So here it is, a infinite sum making a finite number. Glad to have busted that one.

    • by thesandtiger (819476) on Tuesday October 07, 2008 @11:36AM (#25287093)

      That's another variation on the concept of Xeno's Paradox, really (wiki it). In both cases, in order for this to be an actual paradox, time would have to be infinitely smooth, as in not have a minimum possible unit - you can keep on having shorter and shorter amounts of time.

      From what I understand, because time and distance seem to be granular (with the minimum units being Planck distance and Planck seconds or something like that), the whole problem gets avoided since EVERYTHING is granular and the deceleration from one moment to the next (even before a full stop) would go in a kind of quantum way - either you're at a speed of 1000 planck distances per planck second, or you're at 999 planck distances per planck second, not 999.99 p/p etc.

      It made sense at the time I heard it, but you know, that was undergrad and I was probably really high.

      • It doesn't have anything to do with the smoothness of time. People have been doing differentiations and integrations over continuous-time functions for centuries. When you're talking about real physics with Plank time and distance limitations, the GP's 1 x 10^-99999m/s difference might make sense.

        But the Newtonian model of physics usually just assume time and space to be continuous - e.g. to get the distance from a velocity function you do integration not summation over Plank-time steps. And the math stil
        • Yeah, but math is, like, hard, and I was high.

          Actually, to respond to your real point - I guess I just feel like the calculations are approximations (albeit incredibly accurate and useful and so on), or attempts to describe the physical world, but not actually descriptions of what the real world is like. From what I gather of Newtonian physics, we know that it doesn't REALLY describe what's happening at every level, it's just a way of calculating the macroscopic behavior of a system. Newton, for example, ba

    • by Fex303 (557896)
      Sounds like the second answer - it's some sort of variation on one of Zeno's paradoxes [wikipedia.org]. I would suggest that the part where you're going wrong is 'instantly'. Things don't actually happen instantly, they just happen over periods of time that are too small for us to measure. (There are various exceptions for quantum effects, but they get weirder than I can bothered discussing now.)
    • You go from 1 x 10^-99999m/s to 0m/s in ~10^-999999s, not instantly, though at some scale things become quantized, apparently.

    • by blindd0t (855876)

      I think you've over-complicated a simple question...

      Shouldn't Stopping be impossible?

      No, depending on the magnitude and direction of the forces being applied on an object over a duration of time, it is possible for the velocity, at some instance in time, to be zero (even though forces will continue to act on it). Yes, you can talk about an infinitely small/large time and velocity, but being "stopped" is merely a description of what happens in one very specific instant of time. Think of this article's scen

  • Another fun animal (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Knuckles (8964) <knuckles.dantian@org> on Tuesday October 07, 2008 @11:49AM (#25287335)

    Bombardier beetle [google.com].

  • by HTH NE1 (675604) on Tuesday October 07, 2008 @12:34PM (#25288063)

    Do any of these spores thrive under Bertold rays and have miraculous healing properties on humans, such as regrowth of a removed appendix?

  • by RabidMonkey (30447) <canadaboyNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday October 07, 2008 @12:48PM (#25288311) Homepage

    This was discussed on Quirks and Quarks [www.cbc.ca], a fantastic science news show on the CBC, a few weeks back (link to the show here [www.cbc.ca], available as an mp3, or ogg).

    It was a really interesting segment, have a listen. The show is also available as a weekly podcast, and I can't reccomend it enough.

    Hurrah for public radio!

  • I'll resist from making jokes (I had too much SCons/Python today for a person used to a Make/Perl diet; but I am beginning to acquire the taste).

    Can anyone think (dream/scheme) up some practical uses for this?

    With that acceleration, can we send something into space with a very large array of these?

    Could this be Mother Nature's non-lethal weapon? (Zap somebody in the face with fungus spores, instead of tasering them?

    I'm sure the eclectic melange of geniuses and nut-bags that are /. could come up wi

  • I'm quite surprised and relieved that something useful has come from Miami U, given the type of students they have. [oxfordpress.com]
  • Poor math (Score:3, Informative)

    by Jerry Coffin (824726) on Tuesday October 07, 2008 @05:09PM (#25291959)
    For anybody who cares, the correct number is not 180 000 Gs of acceleration. It's really 180 000 meters per second squared, which gives about 18 000 Gs.
    • by Sir Holo (531007)
      Actually, 18,000 gs would be more correct.

      Big G is the gravitational constant, little g is 9.8 m/s^2.

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