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Supersizing pumpkins

Engineers model extreme growth in fruits

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1:00pm, October 29, 2010

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Linus was right after all. Not only does the Great Pumpkin exist, but scientists have figured out how he manages to get so big.

In a sort of self-perpetuating cycle, the bigger a gourd gets the more physical stress it experiences — thus triggering giant pumpkins to grow even more.

“Their weight generates tension, which pulls cells apart and accelerates growth,” says David Hu, a mechanical engineer at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta whose team has submitted a paper to a peer-reviewed journal.

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