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Man Takes Up Internal Farming 136

Posted by samzenpus
from the cardiovascular-farming dept.
RockDoctor writes "'A Massachusetts man who was rushed to hospital with a collapsed lung came home with an unusual diagnosis: a pea plant was growing in his lung.' Just that summary should tell you enough to work out most of the rest of the details, but it does raise a number of questions unaddressed by the article: How did the pea roots deal with the patient's immune system? What would have happened if the situation had continued un-treated? I bet the guy has a career awaiting him in PR for a pea-growing company."
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Man Takes Up Internal Farming

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  • crap... (Score:5, Funny)

    by bsDaemon (87307) on Friday August 13, 2010 @11:36AM (#33240804)

    I knew I shouldn't have eaten the seeds to give myself an edge in all those watermelon eating contests :(

  • I remember as a young kid being vaguely scared that, if I ate watermelon seeds, a watermelon would grow in my stomach. Of course, by the time I was six I realized that plants would not grow inside a human. Turns out I was wrong.

  • Wow! (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Unpealievable!

  • by snookerhog (1835110) on Friday August 13, 2010 @11:40AM (#33240876)
    Seriously though, INABotanist so could someone elaborate on how long a sprout like this could survive devoid of light for photosynthesis?

    I assume that if it went untreated it would have just died and either been absorbed or caused a nasty infection.

    • by Issarlk (1429361)
      It carries its food with it. Enough to grow out of the ground and to start photosynthesising.
    • by TheJokeExplainer (1760894) on Friday August 13, 2010 @11:52AM (#33241118)
      Seeds don't need light when they're just sprouting. That's why you can plant them buried under soil, then they start to sprout.

      Think of it as them subsisting on their "egg yolk" (the twin "bean" parts) while they're still in the process of sprouting. As the plant use them up in sprouting and forming leaves, the "bean" parts shrivel up and then the plant starts to rely on its roots and leaves for food and water.

      What the article describes most likely looks more like a bean sprout [google.com.ph] than a full-blown pea plant.
    • by sonnejw0 (1114901) on Friday August 13, 2010 @11:55AM (#33241174)
      A seedling is capable of germinating without sunlight, because the fruit (the pea) has within it all the necessary nutrients to sprout.

      Photosynthesis serves the function of producing sugar from sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide by transfering an electron through several enzymatic structures. It is conceivable that (in order of likelihood), a) the half-inch long seedling was still being fully fed from the fruit, b) simple diffusion of sugar from the blood stream was able to supply the plant with enough sugar to sustain itself, c) free radicals were able to diffuse into the seedling's tissue, donating an electron to the photosynthetic chain.

      "Scientists Grow Plants without Sunlight or Water": http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=scientists-grow-plants-wi [scientificamerican.com]
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Reziac (43301) *

        "Scientists Grow Plants without Sunlight or Water" -- I'm wondering how this might be applied to limited-resource gardening, such as aboard spacecraft (wouldn't be energy-efficient, but might be nutrient-efficient). No doubt some are already wondering how to apply it to the pot plants in mom's basement, too. ;)

        Not to mention... "If I grow pot in my lung, I won't have to smoke it!"

    • by Flea of Pain (1577213) on Friday August 13, 2010 @12:45PM (#33242010)

      Well it works like this. First if uses its existing nutrients to grow high enough to reach sunlight. Then it starts photosynthesis. If they'd left it in him, he'd have ended up like this [incgamers.com]

    • by mattack2 (1165421)

      White asparagus is just regular asparagus grown without sunlight.

      ahref=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spargelrel=url2html-27291 [slashdot.org]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spargel>

  • Pine tree lung (Score:5, Informative)

    by Jodka (520060) on Friday August 13, 2010 @11:40AM (#33240896)

    There is a similar case of a pine tree in a lung [google.com].

    • Re:Pine tree lung (Score:5, Informative)

      by sonnejw0 (1114901) on Friday August 13, 2010 @11:50AM (#33241088)
      Actually, the pine tree in a lung ... that was (obviously) a fake: http://tywkiwdbi.blogspot.com/2009/04/russian-man-did-not-aspirate-fir-tree.html [blogspot.com] But if this pea actually did grow insidiously inside a man's lung, this is actually remarkable in any number of ways. The immune system surely could not handle a pea, it's simply too large. Plants of been around for a lot longer than mammals, and this just goes to show their evolutionary dominance. If you're an imaginative person, it brings to mind that M. Night Shyamalan movie about the plants intentionally releasing pollen that was toxic to humans. Twilight zone stuff.

      A plant growing inside a human, able to cause pain and possibly death, much like a virus, brings to mind lots of philosophical questions.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by bill_mcgonigle (4333) *

        If you're an imaginative person, it brings to mind that M. Night Shyamalan movie about the plants intentionally releasing pollen that was toxic to humans.

        Except that plants don't have intentions (doesn't take away from a silly horror flick, of course).

        • by ZosX (517789)

          Except that plants don't have intentions (doesn't take away from a silly horror flick, of course).

          How would we possibly know whether plants have intentions or not?

          • How would we possibly know whether plants have intentions or not?

            There's no indication that plants have any thoughts at all. Intentions are a subset.

      • Evolutionary dominance? Yes, because you know, over millions of years, several varieties of peas adapted to the conditions of the human lung and mechanisms of avoiding destruction by the immune system.

        • by bar-agent (698856)

          Evolutionary dominance? Yes, because you know, over millions of years, several varieties of peas adapted to the conditions of the human lung and mechanisms of avoiding destruction by the immune system.

          Well, as the article shows, they have done exactly that without even really trying.

          (Or more correctly, but less elegantly in our agency-based language, without even being tried.)

  • by ITBurnout (1845712) on Friday August 13, 2010 @11:40AM (#33240898)
    ...not to inhale my food. Guess she was right.
  • Farmville (Score:3, Funny)

    by kriston (7886) on Friday August 13, 2010 @11:40AM (#33240904) Homepage Journal

    This Farmville player is asking you for a PEA IN HIS LUNG for his farm!

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by need4mospd (1146215)
      Am I the only one that thought of R. Kelly when you said pea in his lung?
      • by jamesh (87723)

        Am I the only one that thought of R. Kelly when you said pea in his lung?

        Yes. Yes you were.

  • by ciderbrew (1860166) on Friday August 13, 2010 @11:44AM (#33240992)
    a 'Lung'gume.

    Hmmm Hmmm. see what I did there.
    • by Tejin (818001)
      Rosebud Snow Peas! Full of green pea-ness.
    • by RockDoctor (15477)

      a 'Lung'gume.

      My oft-referred-to "punishing" sense of humour doffs it's hat in recognition of a fellow-traveller. Ouch!

      by ciderbrew (1860166)

      And my oft-exercised tin-lifting arm raises a tin in your direction >| clunk |<

  • Just when you thought you could trust the plants....
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by naz404 (1282810)
      Clearly, this was a pre-emptive strike against his impending zombification.
  • ... apparently it was only discovered when he went for an unrelated consultation with a podiatrist.
  • Raw ripe peas are almost as hard as stones and indigestible (it takes soaking for a day and cooking for at least half an hour before the are edible (there are breeds of pea which can be eaten raw, but only the very young unripe fruits, which would not germinate)). I'd like to know what he really did.

    • by natehoy (1608657)

      Ignoring the obvious fact that you appear to have confused peas and beans (peas will germinate quite nicely while still moist and tasty, you dry them out to preserve the seed for the winter), the fact that the plant was in his lung probably means he somehow inhaled it. Maybe his kid got ahold of one when he was planting his garden, put it in a slingshot, and shot it at him just as he shouted at the kid to stop stealing dried peas. Kid hits him in the mouth just as he inhales - hey presto - viable seed in

  • "How did the pea roots deal with the patient's immune system? What would have happened if the situation had continued un-treated? I bet the guy has a career awaiting him in PR for a pea-growing company." I highly doubt any company wants to use him for PR, but Monsanto may be looking into how to sue him for patent infringement, since he apparently took their patented herbicide resistant strains and modified them to be antibody resistant.
  • ...LOL you have a filthy, filthy mind.

    Seriously I knew a girl who developed a severe earache a few weeks after her honeymoon to Yellowstone and saw the doctor about it. He looked in her ear with an otoscope and saw something sticking out from behind her eardrum. It was a germinating seed that had lodged in her ear wax and taken root behind her eardrum. The theory was that the seed blue in during a particularly windy, dusty day during the Yellowstone trip.
    • by RockDoctor (15477)

      I heard a similar tale a long time ago - from the friend of a friend, who had recently graduated as a medic - of something unpleasant growing in a particularly dirty belly-button.

  • I remember putting a spieces of peas in glasses of water as a child, and they sprouted roots even though they had no nutrients. Presumably they carry a reserve in themselves to kick-start the process, as they well can't get nutrients without a root system?
    • by RockDoctor (15477)

      I remember putting a spieces of peas in glasses of water as a child, and they sprouted roots even though they had no nutrients. Presumably they carry a reserve in themselves to kick-start the process, as they well can't get nutrients without a root system?

      Your logic is impeccable, and you can perform the appropriate experiments yourself.

      Get some fresh peas (other seed types may be better, but peas should work) and examine them carefully. You'll find that they have two similar hemispheres with a small "embry

  • by garg0yle (208225) on Friday August 13, 2010 @12:23PM (#33241648) Journal

    ...he's achieved inner peas?

  • by droopus (33472) * on Friday August 13, 2010 @12:26PM (#33241720)

    I was watching one of the weird science documentaries my wife loves and saw one that beats this story by a bit. Jasper Lawrence [jasper-lawrence.com] had severe asthma and allergies and heard an old wives tale that hookworms could force the body's immune system to "cure" the allergies...so he went to Africa, stamped around in feces and got a nice case of hookworm. It worked. [wikipedia.org]

    Now, he has set up a business [autoimmunetherapies.com] selling hookworms he harvests from his own feces.

    • by treeves (963993)
      Both This American Life and Radiolab did stories about that guy. Apparently, he had to move his business overseas due to FDA or some other regulations.
    • I know someone with multiple sclerosis/MS, and there are some legitimate studies of this sort of thing going on related to MS and other autoimmune diseases. Apparently there was some sort of study done in south america where the control group had multiple relapses (MS attacks) but the group with intestinal parasites had basically none over the course of the study. That's prompted further studies involving pig whipworms (which don't thrive and reproduce in humans), along with the obvious investigations of th
  • So this is what happens when you give peas a chance?

  • Since plants give off oxygen, if this had gotten large enough, he could have had a self sustaining oxygen supply without the need to breathe air...

    • by TheCarp (96830)

      Well the obvious need for light would put a damper on this.

      I have often wondered if it would convey any advantage for humans to have chloroplasts in their skin.

      I have to imagine that it wouldn't be enough surface area, CO2, and Light to actually need to not breath... so probably little to no advantage.

      But thats just my guess.

      • I'm so glad I'm not the only one thinking about this. Doesn't seem like it should be all that hard of an upgrade, right? Just splice in the appropriate plant DNA and whamo, green skin! In addition to not needing to breathe (as much) you might be able to yield ATP from them and not have to eat (as much) either.

        Some people really shouldn't be allowed in a biology classroom :-(
        • by TheCarp (96830)

          Actually yes, that should work. Even if it could provide enough sugar to transport around and make ATP, it wouldn't diminish the need for vitamins, fiber (gotta keep that digestive tract flowing), and protein. In fact, it might add slightly to dietary requirements with other minerals needed for the chloroplasts.... might need a bit more Mg to produce chlorophyll?

          In any case yes, some people shouldn't be allowed in a bio class. I too am one of them.

          I still think the surface area to volume ratio would render

  • I thought this was going to be an article about the guy who raises hookworms in his own body and sells them on the Internet.
  • A4Q (Score:5, Informative)

    by blair1q (305137) on Friday August 13, 2010 @12:39PM (#33241912) Journal

    How did the pea roots deal with the patient's immune system?

    They didn't have to. The immune system is largely inactive in and oblivious to the airspace of the lung. It would only be when the roots breached the walls and entered the blood that the immune system would get wise.

    What would have happened if the situation had continued un-treated?

    If it had continued to grow and tore a hole in the lung he could have got infection-like symptoms (fevers and aches as the body ramped up production of leukocytes).

    If it had died it would become food for bacteria in the air, and it would have decayed in situ. That would have made a gooey mess.

    It gave him what TFA called emphysema, or maybe they meant he really has a prior diagnosis for emphysema so he thought this was more of that and didn't do anything with it until it became acute.

    He probably would also have contracted (or had and they weren't reporting) a bad case of pneumonia. The more stuff in your lungs that isn't lung, the easier that is.

    BTW, BT, DT, and there's not much better in life than to get a result of "it's not cancer it's something weird" when your lungs hurt.

    bet the guy has a career awaiting him in PR for a pea-growing company.

    Or a lawsuit waiting for him from the trademark-trolling division of Archer-Daniels Midland, for using their logo [bit.ly] in his x-rays without paying a royalty.

    Lung....

    Lunnnnnnggggg....

    Lovely, woody word....lunnnnnggg...

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by naoursla (99850)

      I was thinking that Monsanto was going to sue him for using their patented lung-resistant pea seeds.

    • by H0p313ss (811249)

      Lung....

      Lunnnnnnggggg....

      Lovely, woody word....lunnnnnggg...

      Sounds a bit tinny to me.

  • "I bet the guy has a career awaiting him in PR for a pea-growing company."

    Green Giant Vegetables, of course.

    Ho ho ho.

  • Don't want zombies in my lung ....
    • The pea shooter was just trying to be proactive and get a head start. The guy wasn't a zombie yet; but...
  • to not inhale his supper!

  • by raddan (519638) *
    The next time your girlfriend/wife/significant other says "pee in me", they might mean something else.
    • WTF???
    • by RockDoctor (15477)

      The next time your girlfriend/wife/significant other says "pee in me",

      This is more freaky the more I look at it. I'm not sure which is freakier - that your gf/w/so seems to use terminology like that, or that you seem to have swallowed it (the terminology), ummm, whole and un-diluted.

      Then again, you might be taking the piss.

  • With my daughter gunning for a major in Environmental Science, my first thought was, "What is the optimal design for generating sufficient food for one, four, 100, and 20K humans?" Besides the obvious answer of, "Planet Earth".
  • This is how Mendel died.
  • So now we're just re-posting old shit from every other news source? I read this on the BBC News feed a couple of days ago, and it's been banging around since well before then.
    http://www1.whdh.com/news/articles/local/12001910794327/man-finds-plant-growing-inside-his-lung/ [whdh.com] (8/9)
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-10945050 [bbc.co.uk] (8/11)
    • So now we're just re-posting old shit from every other news source?

      You must be new here.

      Welcome to /.

      • by dotfile (536191)
        I'm not, I've just been noticing over the past several months that the signal to noise ratio is getting far worse. I suppose quantity, not quality, must sell more ad space.
        • by RockDoctor (15477)

          Well, it was news to me when I did my regular scan of the news yesterday morning. And yes, I do find the SNR of SlashDolt annoyingly high, but it's probably lower than other places. That is really annoying.

          Hmm, I really should pay more attention to alternatives. What was that thing that Dawn suggested a while back on Dawkins.Net? ...

  • Soylent Peas are People!
  • Did he step in Meteor Shit, by any chance?
  • Some thirty years ago I've heard of a guy that was in his forties and had had a section of spruce branch discovered in his lung. He claimed that he "swallowed" this small secton when he was a toddler.

    The needles on the branch were still green on discovery!

  • Where are Mulder & Scully when you need them?

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