Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Lycopodium fun

I don't have time for all the fun trivia in class but there's always the blog. Because spores are VERY fine and are very dry they can actually produce a nice explosion when they are dispersed in air. However because a mass of the spores is not flammable they make a fairly safe substance to work with. For this reason Lycopodium spores were used for many years as flash powder for photography. These days they are still apparently used in some special effect work since the explosion is very dramatic. I think the spores of any number of plants would work for this - the questions would be where can you collect them in suitably large quantities. The idea that a moss might be used is ridiculous but unfortunately since Lycopodium is a club moss it is a common misconception that these explosive spores are from mosses. Lycopodium, as I'm sure you remember, are more closely related to the ferns with large, club like structures (technically called a strobilus) producing a huge amount of spores. Perfect.

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