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Can sunlight be turned into other things besides energy.

  1. Feb 25, 2009 #1
    Trees turn sunlight into "tree food". They turn sunlight (which is basically nothing) into something. Maybe if we manipulated the process of photosynthesis, we could make trees turn the sunlight into other materials (and maybe in the far future we could have trees making metals for us). Thoughts?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 25, 2009 #2
    Actually, I think plant only use the sunlight as an energy source to produce glucose and oxygen from water vapor and carbon dioxide.

    [tex]CO_2(g)+H_2O(g)+energy\rightarrow C_6H_{12}O_6(s)+O_2(g)[/tex]

    It is true that energy and mass (matter) has a distict relationship [tex]\left(E=mc^2\right)[/tex], but the trees don't create the so called "tree food" from pure sunlight energy.
     
  4. Feb 25, 2009 #3
    Espen's right, plants only use sunlight as an energy source. It's the same as if you have a photoelectric cell that you used to power some sort of manufacturing. The conversion of one type of element to a different one is called transmutation. We've only done it in nuclear reactions, and particle accelerators. If we discovered some way to transmute at will any element into another then we could use solar power to do it. That would create metals out of whatever elements we had available, using power from sunlight. That's about as close to metals from sunlight that you're going to get.
     
  5. Mar 17, 2009 #4
    As the first post explained, your reasoning is wrong on many levels. The only the sunlight does in the Calvin cycle is provide energy to fuel the reactions.
     
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