National Geographic : 1961 Feb
cantaloupes in nearly every shallow pool. Shells agape, they were oriented skyward, spreading out a mantle of tissue exquisite with gem spots of color (page 220). Whirled Cells Uphold a Hunch Back in my New York laboratory months after the Great Barrier Reef trip, McLaughlin and I macerated some live anemone tissue that had been shipped to us. Then we spun it in acentrifuge. The green cells were whirled apart from the cells of the host. Next, by means of a glass suction tube no thicker than a fine sewing needle, we put a single green cell into each of a number of test tubes of nutrient broth. These tubes were placed near a strong electric light-our ver sion of the sun. Before long the single cells had multiplied into tens of thousands, and each tube of broth had a greenish tinge. In examining these cells closely, we made a startling observation. Instead of merely splitting in two to duplicate themselves, some cells underwent a radical anatomical change: They developed two small whips. This trans 224 formation, along with certain telltale mark ings, gave experimental proof to a scientific hunch. The hunch was that pigmented cells living in the tissues of many marine animals the world over are really members in disguise of that queer part-plant, part-animal form of life, the dinoflagellates. Have the animals of the reef, unable to do what the plant does, taken to symbiosis to get as close as possible to the source of trapped energy from the sun? Their two-legged rel ative on land-man-is working hard to solve that same green secret, photosynthesis. If man succeeds, many marvels are in store. There will be a revolution in agricul ture, with food for the multitudes made abundantly out of simple carbon dioxide, water, and minerals. There will be factories in the desert, reaching out into the air to take power directly from the sun, with no more need for sun-created coal, natural gas, or petroleum. And there will be a way to make oxygen and food for sustaining travel through space, and for peopling airless planets as far away as sunlight can reach.