Scientists Develop Bomb-Detecting Plants

January 27, 2011


"Yep, definitely a bomb."

Scientists at the University of Colorado have developed the early predecessors of future "bomb-sniffing" plants (move buzz over, bees!) that can change colors to indicate the presence of specific chemical compounds. No word on how long it takes for the change to take place, but my guess is two peg-legs too late.

It only took a small engineering nudge to deputize a plant's natural, evolutionary self-defense mechanisms for threat detection. "Plants can't run and hide," says June Medford, the biologist who's spent the last seven years figuring out how to deputize plants for counterterrorism. "If a bug comes by, it has to respond to it. And it already has the infrastructure to respond."

Right now, Medford estimates she's three to four years out. Her labs have genetically-designed plants blanching white when they come into contact with TNT. But that's in a research lab, where the amount of light is constant, "no wind, no rain, no bugs, no people dumping coffee."

Admittedly, that is pretty impressive. I'm not sure how practical it'll be except for blanketing old land-mine beds, but who knows. Now genetically modifying weed to be able to run away from cops -- that would be impressive. And genetically modifying weed to run away from cops BUT STILL FIND ITS WAY BACK HOME, well, that's the f***ing future right there. Holy shit he even brought back snacks. BEST WEED EVER!

Short video report with more in-depth info after the jump.

Professor Breeds Bomb-Detecting Plants [gizmodo]

Thanks to Patrick, who detects bombs the old-fashioned way: waiting for them to explode. I'm not gonna lie Patrick, a little archaic.

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