Can the Human Body Learn to Photosynthesize?
Scientists have discovered that animal organisms can support the existence of photosynthetic chloroplasts, so could the human body one day make its energy from the sun?
What's the Latest Development?
In 2011, UCLA biologist Christina Agapakis discovered that vertebrate animals can tolerate the presence of photosynthetic microbes after she injected zebra fish embryos with photosynthetic bacteria. In a follow up to the experiment, she was able to tweak the bacteria so that even mammalian cells would accept their presence. Scientists have also observed the Elysia sea slug commandeering chloroplast—the cellular structures within which photosynthesis takes place—from the algae they eat, though it is still a mystery how the slugs are able to use the chloroplast as an energy source.
What's the Big Idea?
Could the human body learn—or be modified—to convert sunlight into energy? While the idea of gathering power from the sun, rather than masticating it, might sound appealing, the human body is not well-suited to the task. "Even if our skin was riddled with working chloroplasts, they would only manufacture a fraction of the nutrients we need to survive. 'Animals need a lot of energy, and moving at all doesn’t really jive well with photosynthesis,' says Agapakis." And by growing plants for food in the first place, humans have essentially outsourced the process of photosynthesis on an enormous scale.
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Firefighters in California are still struggling to contain several wildfires nearly one week after they broke out.
- Hundreds of people are still missing after three wildfires spread across Northern and Southern California last week.
- 48 of the 50 deaths occurred after the Camp Fire blazed through the town of Paradise, north of Sacramento.
- On Tuesday night, a fourth wildfire broke out, though it's mostly contained.
We know the dangers of too little sleep. Now for the other side of the story.
- Western University researchers found that sleeping over eight hours per night results in cognitive decline.
- Oversleepers suffer similar difficulties on certain cognitive tests as those who sleep under seven hours.
- Not all the news is bad: One night of oversleeping results in a cognitive boost.
Protected animals are feared to be headed for the black market.
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