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Think Tank

Trees May One Day Serve as Streetlamps

A Dutch designer wants to take the elements that make jellyfish glow and apply them to trees. Daan Roosegaarde envisions trees serving as streetlights one day. With the help of the Dutch government, he's developing his research here in the States, where genetic modification isn't as strictly regulated.

Ellis Hamburger for The Verge has the interview:

As my eyes adjust, it gets brighter. Roosegaarde’s specimen was created by genetically modifying its molecular structure to include luciferin, a chemical that gives jellyfish their radiant glow. "I’m completely obsessed with jellyfish," Roosegaarde says. "They create their own light without a battery or solar panel." Roosegaarde’s plant is nowhere near as vibrant as a jellyfish or a fern from Avatar — it’s in fact still quite dim — but serves as a proof of concept for his technology, which he hopes to employ on a much larger scale.

He asks me to imagine trees filled with glowing leaves lining highways to light the way for drivers, or a street lined with energy-neutral trees instead of electric street lamps. Roosegaarde says, "In a time where governments are shutting down street lights to save money, can we not make it more natural?" The plants were engineered in collaboration with BioGlow founder Dr. Alexander Krichevsky, who first revealed his technology back in January. The idea for glowing plants has been around for at least a few years, but Krichevsky claims that his are the first real prototypes.

To read more about Roosegaarde's exciting research, head over to The Verge.

Image credit: Doug888888/Flickr

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