Wednesday, February 08, 2006

(Kind of) Science News: For the Love of a Radish

Erm.... okay... Not sure how quite to react to this fascinating news bite. In a way its kind of cute - but in another way its completely loony...

A giant radish is making the Japanese evening news headlines after it was rushed into intensive care in an agricultural research centre.

The daikon radish, a staple ingredient in Japan, became an unlikely object of public admiration when it started growing through a pavement last year.
The resilient radish was then attacked last year by a mysterious assailant.

The local town council has since been trying to re-grow the radish from its severed top.
It now hopes to extract its seeds or DNA. The wilting leaves and shrivelled top of the radish were carefully packed in a cool box and accompanied by a throng of reporters and cameramen, driven to an agricultural research centre. There, evening news programmes showed white-coated scientists pronouncing gravely on the radish's prognosis.

Roots of the drama
This unlikely drama started last summer in the town of Aoi, when residents noticed the radish pushing its way through the asphalt of a pavement.
Impressed by its perseverance, they named it Dokonjo Daikon, or the radish with fighting spirit.

Look at the size of her.. radish (Unfortunately this is not
Dokonjo Daikon - but one of its stunt doubles).

Imagine their dismay then when one morning, they found the radish had been decapitated. The news of its demise prompted an outpouring of sympathy across Japan, and the unknown assailant returned its severed head, from which the town council has been trying in vain to revive it.

Dokonjo daikon now even has its own dedicated website.
The Japanese public has frequently been touched by the plight of stricken animals. But commentators are at a loss to explain this wave of affection for a mere vegetable.

Inspired by the radish's fight for life, the town council now wants to extract seeds or even DNA from its remains in the hope of producing offspring of similar fortitude.

Sometimes you have to wonder if those nice newshound people at BBC News are just too good at their jobs.

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