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Thread: The Dyson Tree And Water Uptake

  1. #1 The Dyson Tree And Water Uptake 
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    Hi guys,

    Could any of suggest a mechanism for moving water to the top of a Dyson Tree. A Dyson tree is a hypothetical genetically-engineered plant, (perhaps resembling a tree) capable of growing on a comet, suggested by the physicist Freeman Dyson. He suggested that such plants could produce a breathable atmosphere within hollow spaces in the comet (or even within the plants themselves) utilising solar energy and cometary materials, thus providing self-sustaining habitats for humanity in the outer solar system.

    A Dyson tree might consist of a few main trunk structures growing out from a comet nucleus, flowering into branches and leaves that intertwine, forming a spherical structure possibly dozens of kilometers across.

    This tree can grow to very large height because of the lack of gravity; thus the mechanism for water uptake in normal trees isnt going to work here. So could you suggest any possible mechanism that would allow water uptake in this type of tree.


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  3. #2  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard i_feel_tiredsleepy's Avatar
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    Well plants rely on evaporation to power the movement of fluid up the xylem. Not much of a biophysicist, but it would have to be different from the method found in real plants.


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    Forum Isotope Bunbury's Avatar
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    I hadn't heard of Dyson trees before your post (which seems to be an uncredited copy of the Wiki entry). The link below gives a somewhat vague description of how they are supposed to work. The critical missing piece might be "a space adapted ecology on their exteriors" which is easy to say but hard to envisage. Apparently several sci-fi writers have used the idea and their stories might have some plausible technology to consider.

    http://www.orionsarm.com/civ/Dyson_Trees.html

    The Integral Trees by Larry Niven is a good yarn, but Niven's trees exist in an atmosphere, not in outer space.
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  5. #4  
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    A tree - essentially - is a very efficient wick. It draws water (and nutrients) by evaporation. Well, the vacuum of space is a wonderful ...climate... for evaporation. So I guess our tree could be in business if it's able to melt water at the roots. Maybe some hot fungi around the root nodes? At the leaves or branches it would want - just wild speculation - evaporation and fibre growth alternating with day/night cycle... maybe add fiber behind ice crystal growth...?
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  6. #5 Does Dyson know any botany? 
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    Read the description and failed to understand how "trees" would survive or grow.

    Cellulosic composition might maintain general structural integrity but not maintain viability under conditions of reduced gravity and atmospheric pressure. Where is the light and carbon dioxide coming from for photosynthesis - and don't forget that plants require oxygen for their own metabolism.
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