Yesterday we took a look at one of the lesser known efforts to find a peaceful use for the power of the atom, the gamma garden. Mini atomic gardens were also a part of the Atoms for Peace movement, an outgrowth of the efforts of many scientists who had been engaged in atomic research during WWII to speak publicly about their research and science in general, and the hope that the fruits of their labor could be used to bring good into the world. Gardeners around the world were encouraged to be part of the grand experiment of the atomic world by buying irradiated seeds, and carefully following the changes of the plants as they grew, to see if any permanent mutation came out of them.
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During the early part of the Atomic Age, there wasn’t much that the promise of atomic power didn’t have the potential to make better. While the main development was the idea of peace through atomic bombs, other peaceful uses were researched, including atomic aircraft, atomic cars, atomic power in the home, and of course, Atomic Toasters—and one fascinating sidebar, the atomic garden. The idea was essentially this: as plants grow, genetic drift and mutation occur over time, and the mutations that result in stronger plants then get passed along to future generations, so why not try increasing the mutation rate through bombardments of plants with radiation, in search of better plants?
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