Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Seeds of Life: Doomsday Seed Vault Receives 25,000 New Seeds

Does the fate of humanity hide inside this cold, stark vault?

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault (better known as the "Doomsday" Seed Vault) has added  25,000 new rare seeds to its already impressive collection.

Opening in 2008 in Svalbard, Norway, the steel and concrete vault was constructed high above the Arctic Circle as a way for humans to preserve precious seeds of practically every plant, flower, fruit and vegetable on Earth. The idea is when a cataclysmic event strikes the Earth, the seeds preserved at the vault will be able to replenish the planet and provide food, should humans even survive the catastrophe.

This week, the Seed Vault is set to receive nearly 25,000 samples of seeds from around the world, including those of grains that grow on one of the world's highest mountain ranges and a plant whose stems redden an Ecuadorean drink on the "Day of the Dead." Scientists hope they will be able to use "Jurassic Park" technology to bring back plants in the future, even after becoming extinct.

The cold, stark location was chosen for its permafrost, which will be able to keep the fragile seeds cool, even should power be cut to the location. Funding for the enormous project came from a host of generous benefactors, including Microsoft founder billionaire Bill Gates as well as the wealthy Rockefeller family. 

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