Work details
Application Number 0000901774
Author Centis, Ludovico , Italy
Coauthors Bortolussi, Sergio , Italy
Ghidoni, Matteo , Italy
Scapin, Marco , Italy
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Work title: The Dark Side (0000901774)

Former USSR. A decommissioned nuclear plant hosts a microbiology lab. Here a group of scientists has been set up to conduct research on bacteria. Two of these are of particular relevance: the first concerns a bacterial enzyme that creates a key raw material for making synthetic glass; the second explores the microbial biodegradation of nuclear waste, exploiting the ability of microbial xenobiotic metabolism to degrade radionuclides. Due to a limited budget, the two teams are forced to share the same packed workspace while performing their complex operations involving manipulating the bacterias'' metabolism. One day accidentally the two different solutions containing the modified bacterias come in contact, producing an unexpected result: the bacterias usually fed with sugar, alcohols, or fatty acids to obtain glass, suddenly develop a strong attraction for radioactive particles. The bacterias, after coming in contact with the radionuclides, undergo a sudden process of vitrification. The precarious conditions of the site allow the bacterias to reach even the rooms where the nuclear waste produced by the plant was stored following low security standards. This condition propels a gradually inexorable chain reaction. Alarm procedures are activated, and all the scientific staff is forced to leave. A random walk process guides the movement of the bacteria. They reproduce at an exponential rate, search for radionuclides and assume a stable form. Inexorably the whole nuclear complex takes the appearance of a disquieting dark glass mountain.