Plant sunscreen found, according to an article in New Scientist, 3 November 2007, p20. Edelweiss, a small flowering plant that grows on high mountains, where there are high levels of potentially damaging ultra-violet (UV) light, has leaves covered with fine hairs.

Scientists at the University of Notre-Dame de las Paix, Belgium noticed that edelweiss leaves do not reflect UV light, even though they reflect other wavelengths of light. They then studied the fine hairs on the leaves and found they are made up of many fine parallel fibres 0.18 micrometres in diameter – very close to the wavelength of UV light. This means they can interact with the light and spread it along the surface of the leaf so that it doesn’t penetrate into the plant tissues. Pol Vigneron, one of the research team, commented: “It’s astonishing but the plant completely absorbs the UV.” The researchers suggest that new types of sunscreens for people could be developed that use the same method as the plants.

Editorial Comment: No-one would believe plants are smarter than people, but it will take brains to make a sunscreen to make use of the same method of UV diversion as the plant. If some creative scientists manage to invent a new kind of sunscreen after studying this plant, they should acknowledge that the plant was designed by a smarter scientist. (Ref. botany, alpine, design)

Evidence News 23 April 2008