Toward Customizable Timber, Grown in a Lab


Researchers show they can control the properties of lab-grown plant material, which could enable the production of wood products with little waste.

Peer-Reviewed Publication

MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY

Lab Plants
IMAGE: IN AN EFFORT TO PROVIDE AN ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY AND LOW-WASTE ALTERNATIVE, RESEARCHERS AT MIT HAVE PIONEERED A TUNABLE TECHNIQUE TO GENERATE WOOD-LIKE PLANT MATERIAL IN A LAB. view more 
CREDIT: IMAGE COURTESY OF LUIS FERNANDO VELÁSQUEZ-GARCÍA, ASHLEY BECKWITH, ET AL

Each year, the world loses about 10 million hectares of forest — an area about the size of Iceland — because of deforestation. At that rate, some scientists predict the world’s forests could disappear in 100 to 200 years.

In an effort to provide an environmentally friendly and low-waste alternative, researchers at MIT have pioneered a tunable technique to generate wood-like plant material in a lab, which could enable someone to “grow” a wooden product like a table without needing to cut down trees, process lumber, etc.

These researchers have now demonstrated that, by adjusting certain chemicals used during the growth process, they can precisely control the physical and mechanical properties of the resulting plant material, such as its stiffness and density.

They also show that, using 3D bioprinting techniques, they can grow plant material in shapes, sizes, and forms that are not found in nature and that can’t be easily produced using traditional agricultural methods.

“The idea is that you can grow these plant materials in exactly the shape that you need, so you don’t need to do any subtractive manufacturing after the fact, which reduces the amount of energy and waste. There is a lot of potential to expand this and grow three-dimensional structures,” says lead author Ashley Beckwith, a recent PhD graduate.

Though still in its early days, this research demonstrates that lab-grown plant materials can be tuned to have specific characteristics, which could someday enable researchers to grow wood products with the exact features needed for a particular application, like high strength to support the walls of a house or certain thermal properties to more efficiently heat a room, explains senior author Luis Fernando Velásquez-García, a principal scientist in MIT’s Microsystems Technology Laboratories.

Joining Beckwith and Velásquez-García on the paper is Jeffrey Borenstein, a biomedical engineer and group leader at the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory. The research is published today in Materials Today.

Planting cells

To begin the process of growing plant material in the lab, the researchers first isolate cells from the leaves of young Zinnia elegans plants. The cells are cultured in liquid medium for two days, then transferred to a gel-based medium, which contains nutrients and two different hormones.

Adjusting the hormone levels at this stage in the process enables researchers to tune the physical and mechanical properties of the plant cells that grow in that nutrient-rich broth.

“In the human body, you have hormones that determine how your cells develop and how certain traits emerge. In the same way, by changing the hormone concentrations in the nutrient broth, the plant cells respond differently. Just by manipulating these tiny chemical quantities, we can elicit pretty dramatic changes in terms of the physical outcomes,” Beckwith says.

In a way, these growing plant cells behave almost like stem cells — researchers can give them cues to tell them what to become, Velásquez-García adds.

They use a 3D printer to extrude the cell culture gel solution into a specific structure in a petri dish, and let it incubate in the dark for three months. Even with this incubation period, the researchers’ process is about two orders of magnitude faster than the time it takes for a tree to grow to maturity, Velásquez-García says.

Following incubation, the resulting cell-based material is dehydrated, and then the researchers evaluate its properties.

Wood-like characteristics

They found that lower hormone levels yielded plant materials with more rounded, open cells that have lower density, while higher hormone levels led to the growth of plant materials with smaller, denser cell structures. Higher hormone levels also yielded plant material that was stiffer; the researchers were able to grow plant material with a storage modulus (stiffness) similar to that of some natural woods.

Another goal of this work is to study what is known as lignification in these lab-grown plant materials. Lignin is a polymer that is deposited in the cell walls of plants which makes them rigid and woody. They found that higher hormone levels in the growth medium causes more lignification, which would lead to plant material with more wood-like properties.

The researchers also demonstrated that, using a 3D bioprinting process, the plant material can be grown in a custom shape and size. Rather than using a mold, the process involves the use of a customizable computer-aided design file that is fed to a 3D bioprinter, which deposits the cell gel culture into a specific shape. For instance, they were able to grow plant material in the shape of a tiny evergreen tree.

Research of this kind is relatively new, Borenstein says.

“This work demonstrates the power that a technology at the interface between engineering and biology can bring to bear on an environmental challenge, leveraging advances originally developed for health care applications,” he adds.

The researchers also show that the cell cultures can survive and continue to grow for months after printing, and that using a thicker gel to produce thicker plant material structures does not impact the survival rate of the lab-grown cells.

“Amenable to customization”

“I think the real opportunity here is to be optimal with what you use and how you use it. If you want to create an object that is going to serve some purpose, there are mechanical expectations to consider. This process is really amenable to customization,” Velásquez-García says.

Now that they have demonstrated the effective tunability of this technique, the researchers want to continue experimenting so they can better understand and control cellular development. They also want to explore how other chemical and genetic factors can direct the growth of the cells.

They hope to evaluate how their method could be transferred to a new species. Zinnia plants don’t produce wood, but if this method were used to make a commercially important tree species, like pine, the process would need to be tailored to that species, Velásquez-García says.  

Ultimately, he is hopeful this work can help to motivate other groups to dive into this area of research to help reduce deforestation.

“Trees and forests are an amazing tool for helping us manage climate change, so being as strategic as we can with these resources will be a societal necessity going forward,” Beckwith adds.

This research is funded, in part, by the Draper Scholars Program.

###

Written by Adam Zewe, MIT News Office

Additional background

Paper: “Physical, mechanical, and microstructural characterization of novel, 3D-printable, tunable, lab-grown plant materials generated from Zinnia elegans cell cultures”

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1369702122000451


JOURNAL

Materials Today

DOI

10.1016/j.mattod.2022.02.012 

ARTICLE TITLE

“Physical, mechanical, and microstructural characterization of novel, 3D-printable, tunable, lab-grown plant materials generated from Zinnia elegans cell cultures”

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stinkerp
May 25, 2022 10:41 pm

Each year, the world loses about 10 million hectares of forest — an area about the size of Iceland — because of deforestation. At that rate, some scientists predict the world’s forests could disappear in 100 to 200 years.

What an embarassingly ignorant opening statement from a supposedly prestigious science institution. Do they really think forests will disappear from North America where forest cover has been increasing for a century? Do they think trees cannot be replanted? What are they teaching at their university? And what about all the CO2 trees pull out of the atmosphere for years and years until they are harvested? I thought they worried about that. A classic example of a “solution” in search of a problem.

Last edited 1 month ago by stinkerp
Craig from Oz
Reply to  stinkerp
May 26, 2022 12:55 am

Deforestation – I am led to believe – is the deliberate clearing with the intent to convert the ‘forest’ into a new purpose. Such as grazing or wind farms I guess.

If you are managing the forest with the intent that regrowth can occur, then it is not technically deforestation.

I suggest the author, either deliberately in an attempt to push up the importance of this ‘planet saving work’, or out of ignorance driven by a culture of ‘human bad, Gaia good’, has taken figures of total forestry work globally and slapped ‘deforest’ into the equation.

Also – trees don’t JUST grow from sun shine and love. If we are lab growing wood, then what are we growing it out of and where is it being sourced from?

Old Man Winter
Reply to  Craig from Oz
May 26, 2022 2:10 am

Here’s another case of Green nutjobs helping to create a problem so they can whine about
it later- burning trees which emit more CO2 than the energy sources it replaces & gets a
bonus 33% CO2 production for FREE because of having to chip to ship! What a racket!!!

Bryan A
Reply to  Old Man Winter
May 26, 2022 5:35 am

If 24 trees make a ton and DRAX uses 16.6MT that’s 394 million trees up in smoke per year to provide .85% of the U.K.energy demand. Just imagine what 100 DRAX plants would go through per year.

Citizen Smith
Reply to  Bryan A
May 26, 2022 8:44 am

Your numbers are way, way, way off. A 12″ dia southern yellow pine LOG with bark and water removed will weigh about 18 lbs per foot. Are your trees 4.5′ tall? A typical export pellet mill produces around 600 short tons per day. Drax owns several and buys from others.

Reply to  Citizen Smith
May 26, 2022 10:25 am

From the back of an envelope, with your 18 pounds a log-foot – Drax requires about 1,100 trees every hour to produce at its biomass capacity of 2.6 gigawatts.

That is assuming fifty foot logs, which is probably rather more than a tree farm delivers to the mill. Without consideration of ANY thermal losses at the plant, energy used to harvest, strip, and pelletize, or in stumping and replanting the farm.

At an IDEAL 900 trees that you can plant per acre, that is 1.2 acres per hour, or over 10,000 acres per year – multiply that by at least 20 years for the trees to grow back, that is 200,000 acres needed for your farm, to supply less than 1% of the UK electrical needs. 20 MILLION acres (very conservatively) to go “all-in” on biomass. More than 30,000 square miles. ONE THIRD the area of the entire United Kingdom.

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  Craig from Oz
May 26, 2022 6:48 am

My first thought when reading this was “and how much of the ‘materials’ being used are sourced from fossil fuels?” Like the “gel,” for instance. Sounds suspiciously like either a petroleum based product or a product of plants that took a bunch of petroleum products to till, plant, water, harvest, transport, process, etc.

I also notice that they conveniently avoid any discussion of how much ‘deforestation’ is due to wind and solar installations or due to clearing rainforest to plant “biofuel” crops.

Last edited 1 month ago by AGW is Not Science
Klem
Reply to  stinkerp
May 26, 2022 2:19 am

Our local forest and logging company is fast approaching 1 billion replanted trees over the past 50 years. They own and run a seedling company for that purpose, you can buy seedllings from them for about a dollar each. The days of clear cutting forests and leaving them that way are long gone.

Ron Long
Reply to  Klem
May 26, 2022 3:35 am

Klem, I grew up in Douglas County, Oregon, in the heart of timber production in the US. The year the logging was shut down by the “spotted Owl”, Oregon had just achieved 100% forest replacement, which means the new trees in clear-cuts were fully matured. While I don’t doubt there are bad forest management practices somewhere in the world, modern practice sustains itself, and provides shelter for edge-dependent species, like deer and elk.

John Shotsky
Reply to  Ron Long
May 26, 2022 6:11 am

Yes, I live in Oregon too. We replant 3 trees for each one felled for lumber.

Citizen Smith
Reply to  John Shotsky
May 26, 2022 9:01 am

Then you know there is a difference in climate generally divided by the Cascades. The west side has a 50 maturity cycle where growth slows after this age. Forests regenerate quickly whether replanted or not. Keep you fields mowed or they will revert to forest. The east side is very different. Weyerhaeuser raped the area around Klamath Falls. Some of it is coming back. Some of the big Ponderosa and Sugar Pine stands will take 150 years or more to regenerate. Its a big and complicated world so don’t judge it from your door step.

ih_fan
Reply to  Citizen Smith
May 26, 2022 11:08 am

Forests regenerate quickly whether replanted or not.

Forests regenerate much faster when replanted.

DonM
Reply to  Citizen Smith
May 26, 2022 5:45 pm

you are saying weyerhaeuser did not replant? Did not replant appropriately? doesn’t care about regenerating income?

Rich Davis
Reply to  stinkerp
May 26, 2022 2:39 am

It’s YouReekAlot! of course.

How is this not categorized under Ridiculae?

Felix
Reply to  stinkerp
May 26, 2022 6:50 am

It has been my understanding that forests everywhere are expanding their coverage, and even NASA admits the planet is greening.

Reply to  stinkerp
May 26, 2022 10:38 am

Most of that loss is not to products made from wood – it’s from slash and burn agriculture in the third world to produce food. Which is only going to get MUCH worse when the properly managed fields are fallowed from lack of cheap fertilizer made from natural gas.

Joao Martins
Reply to  stinkerp
May 26, 2022 11:30 am

First, STOP using burning wood to produce electricity!

Then measure the balance: how much forest area lost, how much forest area gained.

dodgy geezer
May 25, 2022 10:53 pm

Surely foresters and other craftsmen in wood have been training plants into specific shapes for use in technologies like shipbuilding for thousands of years?

Interested Observer
Reply to  dodgy geezer
May 26, 2022 1:50 am

Not just that. No part of a tree that is harvested gets “wasted”. Leaves and small branches usually get mulched and composted. Timber off-cuts are turned into chipboard and MDF. Even the sawdust gets collected and used for a variety of purposes. Some of it does get burned but, the heat provided that way is also used productively.

The idea that any part of harvested wood is wasted is nonsense but, I guess the authors have to justify their grant money somehow.

Old Man Winter
Reply to  Interested Observer
May 26, 2022 2:25 am

When cutting trees in a wooded area on the farm, we left them lay to naturally decay. In
other areas, we piled the brush to burn it. The ash has “pot-ash” & the lime “sweetens”
acidic clay soil. Easy peasy!

Last edited 1 month ago by Old Man Winter
Rich Davis
Reply to  Interested Observer
May 26, 2022 2:44 am

All they needed to do to justify the grant money was to mention the obligatory Climate Change ™

Citizen Smith
Reply to  Interested Observer
May 26, 2022 9:11 am

Using everything but the squeal is a goal but not always reality. If trucking costs of bi-products not used on site is more than the sell price, “other” solutions are found. I saw a 100 acre sawdust pile at a Masisa mill in Chile that would make Drax drool.

Redge
May 25, 2022 11:29 pm

Each year, the world loses about 10 million hectares of forest — an area about the size of Iceland — because of deforestation. At that rate, some scientists predict the world’s forests could disappear in 100 to 200 years.

A PhD should know there are more trees on earth than stars in the Milky Way (100-400 billion stars, 3 trillion trees)

william Johnston
Reply to  Redge
May 26, 2022 7:15 am

But no word on how many trees are planted each year. Small detail.

Mike Dubrasich
Reply to  william Johnston
May 27, 2022 12:14 am

How many of those 3 trillion trees were planted? Answer: very few. Trees have a habit of seeding in on their own without human assistance. Getting jiggy about tree planting is a sidetrack to nowhere.

MARTIN BRUMBY
May 26, 2022 12:35 am

So loosing Iceland every year. And, according to NASA, gaining a continental USA this Century (or was it in a decade? Admittedly, greenery, not necessarily forest).

But it suggests that this merry team is into Agit-prop as well as science. A pity.
If their cunning process actually works, maybe it might be usefull.

Affordable?

Hmmmm.

But our Beloved Leaders will likely decide that this can usefully be annointed as The Science and used to produce woodchip for Drax.

Should burn through a few Trillion…

Rich Davis
Reply to  MARTIN BRUMBY
May 26, 2022 2:52 am

After a mere three months and (is there really any doubt?) a much higher cost, you can end up with a material ALMOST as good as real wood. What a revolution in materials science!

another ian
Reply to  Rich Davis
May 26, 2022 3:00 am

So! Not aircraft grade Sitka spruce then?

Citizen Smith
Reply to  another ian
May 26, 2022 9:14 am

I’m picturing 2 x 4 trees maybe espaliered for easy harvesting like how they grow apples now,.

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  Rich Davis
May 26, 2022 7:46 am

Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!

So, I guess all that effort and production technology to “grow” incredibly high strength carbon/graphite fibers was found to not be worthwhile because, in the end, it was not a natural process?

Hence, I can only imagine that’s a possible reason to think that biologically growing wood-like material fibers might be “better”.

Rich Davis
Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
May 26, 2022 11:35 am

I’d guess that carbon fibers from polyacrylonitrile would be evil. Most likely part of the agenda is to answer how things can still be fabricated without petrochemicals in the brave new world. Plus we want an excuse to play with the cool 3D printer.

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  Rich Davis
May 26, 2022 12:10 pm

Necessary addendum to the end of your last sentence: “. . . at taxpayer expense.”

fretslider
May 26, 2022 12:35 am

“Trees and forests are an amazing tool for helping us manage climate change”

Yeah right.

However did forests cope before humans?

Rich Davis
Reply to  fretslider
May 26, 2022 2:55 am

That’s just the funding incantation, fretslider. Must mention Climate Change ™ and assert that your research will address it somehow. No evidence necessary.

another ian
Reply to  fretslider
May 26, 2022 3:01 am

They pined?

I’ll grab my hat

william Johnston
Reply to  another ian
May 26, 2022 7:16 am

Please do!

H B
May 26, 2022 12:48 am

Where to the resources (sugars) to make this wood come from?
Plants your dumb asses, so grow plants to make sugars and amino acids for cultured wood cells to turn into wood
How many hectares of some other plants will that take Idiots
Where do they find these idiots ?!

Rich Davis
Reply to  H B
May 26, 2022 3:00 am

Um, duh HB! They will get the raw materials from the supermarket or from Amazon or something.

I wonder why there’s no discussion about cost?

william Johnston
Reply to  Rich Davis
May 26, 2022 7:17 am

It is just a fledgling solution. More money is needed to become scalable.

Rich Davis
Reply to  william Johnston
May 26, 2022 12:08 pm

Much, much, MUCH more money, and then it will not be the least bit cost-effective at scale.

Ben Vorlich
Reply to  H B
May 26, 2022 3:07 am

and how much energy from renewable/unreliable sources is required when tree can do it directly without any human tinkering? It’s part of certain human’s psyche that they think they can do better than nature.

Craig from Oz
May 26, 2022 12:58 am

Another question – what is the growth rate of these lab trees?

If it is not significantly better than forest grown trees then it may still be more cost effective to simply manage some forests careful and harvest the timber in a traditional manner.

Rich Davis
Reply to  Craig from Oz
May 26, 2022 3:04 am

I’ll bet that Big Lumber is really shaking in their boots in fear of this disruptive technology!

Citizen Smith
Reply to  Rich Davis
May 26, 2022 9:17 am

Red Emmerson of Sierra Pacific will just buy and burry it.

Mike Dubrasich
Reply to  Craig from Oz
May 27, 2022 12:18 am

They’ll need a few hundred million acres of laboratories to “supplant” our existing forests.

marlene
May 26, 2022 1:41 am

“They” get real wood. We get fake wood. “They” get real meat. We get fake meat. “They” tell lies. We get censored. Guilty felons get out of jail. Innocent J6ers get put in jail. We vote for one president. “They” give us a different one. STOP the world, I want to get off!

Mike Lowe
May 26, 2022 2:27 am

“Environmental. Low waste.”! How about economical? This product, even if it proves acceptable for quality and properties, is highly unlikely to be produced economically. Full marks for trying, but at what point should such experimentation be abandoned?

Rich Davis
Reply to  Mike Lowe
May 26, 2022 3:09 am

at what point should such experimentation be abandoned?

Probably in the early concept phase when a sane person would realize that not only real wood, but also various composite materials and plastics would be cheaper, faster to produce, and higher performance.

ex-KaliforniaKook
Reply to  Mike Lowe
May 26, 2022 9:04 am

Think of it as an art form. Not practical nor economical, and waste is of no consideration. Time consuming, but perhaps interesting to look at and touch.

Climate believer
May 26, 2022 2:33 am

They’re not growing timber in the lab, they’re growing Daisies.

Rich Davis
Reply to  Climate believer
May 26, 2022 3:11 am

They’re growing something, but I think they’re smoking it.

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  Climate believer
May 26, 2022 7:33 am

What about the, ahem, growing consensus?

Uncle Mort
May 26, 2022 5:01 am

Does this mean it will become possible for some people to grow their own customized tree rings? Asking for a friend.

Bryan A
Reply to  Uncle Mort
May 26, 2022 6:19 am

Not sure about that … BUT … they will be able to grow Hockey Sticks

Bruce Cobb
May 26, 2022 7:01 am
Gordon A. Dressler
May 26, 2022 7:04 am

OK . . . I’ll take a shot at it:

Probable cost ratio of 3D “bioprinted”, finished wood-like material coming out of production facilities versus that of naturally-harvested, finished-sawn wood coming out of saw mills will be about 1,000:1.

That is, AFTER optimization of the 3D bioprinting process.

BTW, a word search on the above MIT article, peer-reviewed no less and including the introductory sentence, reveals five hits on the word “could”.

And there is this non-sequitur within this peer-reviewed MIT publication:
“Each year, the world loses about 10 million hectares of forest — an area about the size of Iceland — because of deforestation. At that rate, some scientists predict the world’s forests could disappear in 100 to 200 years.” — article’s first body paragraph
versus
“Trees and forests are an amazing tool for helping us manage climate change . . .” — from article’s second to last paragraph

Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
May 26, 2022 7:24 am

Do they know, what in the DNA makes a plant a dicotyledon?

Mike Dubrasich
Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
May 27, 2022 12:21 am

MIT is not what it used to be. They admit idiots now, students and faculty. It’s a diversity thing.

Tom Halla
May 26, 2022 7:29 am

Forestry works, if only greens would stop thinking Bambi was a documentary.

M Courtney
May 26, 2022 7:36 am

The similarities between wood and plastic become fewer with the application of this new technology.
Bet cost favours plastic though.

Rich Lambert
May 26, 2022 7:38 am

Control of wildfire on grasslands has led to the growth of trees to the detriment of grazing. Many ranchers now conduct controlled burns to get rid of sapling trees and and brush particularly Easter Red Cedar where trees never used to grow. Bradford Pears are also becoming a problem in some areas.

Matt Kiro
May 26, 2022 7:51 am

Dont we already manufacture plastics into parts with shapes we want? Who ever did this study should go out into the world and see how it works first

Bruce Cobb
May 26, 2022 7:56 am

Gee, maybe they can grow a frankentree which will grow money!

Steve Oregon
May 26, 2022 9:24 am

Fast growing, square & fat Douglas Fir trees would be interesting. More ready for lumber?
Like these? http://earth-chronicles.com/anomalies/valley-of-square-trees.html

May 26, 2022 10:29 am

I can’t wait to build my next woodworking project – from daisies.

Fran
May 26, 2022 10:36 am

They do not mention what the “feed stock” is. Bet it is something that needs lots of land and mechanized farming like maize.

Gilbert K. Arnold
May 26, 2022 10:54 am

I can just see it now…. the lunatic fringe will suddenly discover these “GMO” trees and rise up in protest /sarc

Lark
May 26, 2022 11:38 am

“Go ahead and cut all the trees down now, Socialists, we have a theoretical replacement!”

ResourceGuy
May 26, 2022 12:31 pm

Somebody send this to DRAX group before they clearcut more North American forests.

Kevin McNeill
May 26, 2022 12:35 pm

No matter what you call it, it ain’t real wood and never will be.

Loren C. Wilson
May 26, 2022 4:18 pm

And where does all the energy come from to grow these frankentrees in the lab? Mother Nature grows her trees for free. To get the same amount of wood in a lab, we have to provide all the energy that a tree would receive standing in a wood farm for 20-30 years. Doesn’t sound too green to me, or efficient.

H.R.
Reply to  Loren C. Wilson
May 27, 2022 2:02 am

Loren C.: And where does all the energy come from to grow these frankentrees in the lab?”

Drax?

Walter Sobchak
May 26, 2022 6:36 pm

“because of deforestation. At that rate, some scientists predict the world’s forests could disappear in 100 to 200 years.”

When I read junk like that I stop. Massachusetts, home of MIT, is more heavily forested now than it was 200 years ago. So is the rest of the Eastern US.

H.R.
May 26, 2022 8:42 pm

If they grow a dining room table, how do they manage the extension supports and the extension leaves?

Will the grain be as beautiful as curly maple or burl oak?

I’m guessing this process won’t produce any fine furniture that will be handed down from generation to generation. More along the lines of molded vinyl patio furniture.

Orson
May 26, 2022 10:19 pm

We used to wonder at designer genes — and in the past decade, CRISPR-Bac9 tools which allows scientists to insert single genes into DNA, thereby altering an organisms function with exquisite detailed instructions.

Just as all this hyper-novelty gets us agog, we now see (ABOVE) Synthetic Biology — allowing scientists to create custom organs and organisms wholesale.

Folks, it really is the Brave New World, and the market for Synthetic Biology is guesstimated at the value of trillions of dollars — this decade. Wow!

Let’s all catch up, now!

joe x
May 27, 2022 6:03 am

a little humor. from the article. “These researchers have now demonstrated that, by adjusting certain chemicals used during the growth process, they can precisely control the physical and mechanical properties of the resulting plant material, such as its stiffness and density.”

viagra for trees?

emphasis mine.

Editor
May 27, 2022 7:17 am

Note to scientists: Never let the university press office publish anything about your work that you have not reviewed and corrected personally!

For instance: “Each year, the world loses about 10 million hectares of forest — an area about the size of Iceland — because of deforestation. At that rate, some scientists predict the world’s forests could disappear in 100 to 200 years.”

Deforestation and timber harvesting are two entirely, almost unrelated, topic. And such stupid “X could disappear in Y years” predictions are always nonsense.

The ability to make plant cells reproduce in a petri dish is not new — the ability to use hormones to affect the growth of those cells is not new.

Despite all that, a fine article for Popular Science magazine — file with articles on “a flying car in every garage” and “freezer-sized nuclear power plant in every home”.

Russ
May 27, 2022 12:03 pm

Wake me up when they can make a table which will continue to photosynthesize. Until then, this is neat, but it’s just plastic with lots and lots of extra steps.

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