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Scientists Have Taught Spinach How to Send Emails and It’s For a Good Cause Actually

Our scientists were definitely preoccupied with whether or not they could but, in this case, they were also preoccupied with whether or not they should. Yes, scientists have done the unthinkable and taught spinach to send emails (kind of, we’ll get to that) and while this sounds like just another whacky science hijink, the practical application is actually pretty cool.

It turns out that spinach roots are sensitive enough to detect trace impurities in the water they’re drinking and soil they’re growing in — impurities like, say, nitroaromatics, a carbon found in landmines. Scientists have figured out how to inject spinach with nanobots that can communicate with the spinach and send a signal when it detects some of these artificial chemicals. That signal can get picked up by infrared sensors which, you guessed, sends an email, alerting scientists of potential danger in the ground.

So, the spinach can’t exactly send your away message while you’re on vacation, but what it can do is save some lives. Actually, scientists are continuing to work with the technology, believing it could be adapted to keep track of pollution and other environmental hazards.

The report on all this actually came out in 2016, but people on Twitter got wind of it this week and have been creating a steady run of spinach email memes to pass the time because, hey, what else are we going to do?

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In any case, this definitely feels like a better use of time than trying to teach robots how to shoot lasers or bring dinosaurs back or whatever weird thing scientists are usually up to.

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