Tech we would like to see: glowing trees

Followers of James Cameron’s ‘Avatar’ will be fond of this one. Essentially, a gaggle of scientists have presently introduced that they’d like to offer the planets glowing crops! (Yes, you read that right). The planned technology could, in the future, offer us bioluminescent trees instead of streetlights. The scientists’ eventual objective is to bring about vegetation so dazzling that you could read by them in otherwise entire darkness.

The thought is to use a form of genetic engineering (specifically: Synthetic Biology, where scientists synthesize the required genes instead of purely splicing them in) that allows you to produce a strain of plant which could glow, visibly, in the dark.

Yet, for much of the big discuss replacing streetlamps, obtaining a potted plant to grow at all, is task one.

Evidently, we have seen ‘glowing’ insects and plants in the past, in fact, glowing zebra fish are a man-made invention which are readily available in several pet shops. In those cases, a glowing jellyfish protein is spliced into the animal’s DNA, using the effect of making the creature glow, but only when exposed to ultraviolet light.

Why we want it:

Dude, glowing trees.

When can we expect it?

As I thought, its been completed already. A few years ago, a new group of scientists made a glowing tobacco plant by infusing it with genes from the type of light-emitting bacterium that lives inside the sea. The trouble was, that the light emitted from the plant was not very dazzling. Actually, it was barely noticeable.

However, it is not all doom and dimness (groan!). This is the sort of tale that has for sale magazines and garners internet hits, so expect it to receive plenty of coverage. Where there is coverage, there is money and where there’s cash, there is usually rapid growth. So far, the crowd to blame for dreaming up this idea has garnered at least $250,000 on US blog ‘Kickstarter.com’, so things are categorically moving ahead.

The possibility for glowing floral shows, bouquets of dazzling flowers, light-emitting roses for restaurants and so forth will guarantee that plenty of people will be donating to this idea, with more looking to invest in the eventual products themselves.

…And that’s before we even get the green implications of an power-efficient light supply. The sci fi author in me cannot avoid, but picture this like a bold first step into a biotechnological outlook, where everything, including your computer, is self-sustaining. After all, what may be the Human brain if not the ultimate physical workstation?

Nevertheless, I do not know about the ‘Treetlamps’ (I really hope they do not get named that), but we can expect the basic technology to emerge fairly soon, I believe. This novel technique absolutely has the potential to achieve its aims, nevertheless it’s hard to propose precisely when (or if) that might be. For now, I’d give it 10 years, at least.

Cool Factor: 4/5

The environmental functions alone are genuinely staggering. Moreover, the sights we could be treated to could be basically amazing. The list of uses for tech like this is as long as your arm and also the subject matter is both fascinating and worth discussing at events. Bring over the glowing trees, I say!