A new study shows that cosmic radiation could be accelerating the growth of our Earth forests, though - as with most cosmic radiation effects - we don't know how it's happening or what the effects are. But in accordance with standard "Science From Fantastical Space Radiation" practice, the results were only discovered by accident.
A team from the University of Edinburgh scanned samples from felled Scottish spruce trees to examine the rings. Which, when you think about it, is just like scanning a document but without all the intermediary steps. By examining the width of the yearly rings that form you can examine the growth of the tree over time, and while they were expecting climate factors to dominate cosmic ones turned up instead.
There was a clear correlation between cosmic radiation levels and growth, and while it wasn't the usual "Grow to twice the size and change color" effect we normally associate with radiation-fueled growth it still outperformed links with little things like "temperature" or "rain." Which was a bit of a surprise.If you're asking "How could cosmic radiation change tree growth?", you and the researchers have a lot in common. There are a few theories about how high energy protons slamming into the upper atmosphere, exploding into showers of exotic particles as they collide with air, could do this. None of which people can agree on. The idea that increased particle showers in the upper atmosphere can seed clouds and regular water showers further down has studies both for and against, while the idea that the unleashed particles are somehow spurring growth directly has only scifi for support so far. Well, scifi and the fact it actually seems to be happening.
In any case, we can count ourself lucky the cosmic radiation didn't have more Fantastic effects on the foliage: invisible trees would be a major hazard, rubber trees don't grow in Scotland, and the environmental effects of forests turning to stone or catching fire are undesirable.
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