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Scientist Daniel Chamovitz unveils the surprising world of plants that see, feel, smell—and remember.
How aware are plants? This is the central question behind a fascinating new book, “What a Plant Knows,” by Daniel Chamovitz, director of the Manna Center for Plant Biosciences at Tel Aviv University.
A plant, he argues, can see, smell and feel. It can mount a defense when under siege, and warn its neighbors of trouble on the way. A plant can even be said to have a memory. But does this mean that plants think — or that one can speak of a “neuroscience” of the flower?
Chamovitz answered questions from Mind Matters editor Gareth Cook.
3. You say that plants have a sense of smell?
Sure. But to answer this we have to define for ourselves what “smell” is. When we smell something, we sense a volatile chemical that’s dissolved in the air, and then react in someway to this smell.
When one fruit starts to ripen, it releases this hormone which is called ethylene, which is sensed by neighboring fruits, until entire trees and groves ripen more or less in synchrony.
4. Do plants communicate with each other?
At a basic level, yes. But I guess it centers around how you define communication. There is no doubt that plants respond to cues from other plants. For example, if a maple tree is attacked by bugs, it releases a pheromone into the air that is picked up by the neighboring trees. This induces the receiving trees to start making chemicals that will help it fight off the impending bug attack. So on the face of it, this is definitely communication.
Do plants have a memory?
Plants definitely have several different forms of memory, just like people do. They have short term memory, immune memory and even transgenerational memory! I know this is a hard concept to grasp for some people, but if memory entails forming the memory (encoding information), retaining the memory (storing information), and recalling the memory (retrieving information), then plants definitely remember. For example a Venus Fly Trap needs to have two of the hairs on its leaves touched by a bug in order to shut, so it remembers that the first one has been touched. But this only lasts about 20 seconds, and then it forgets.
Plants 'do maths' to control overnight food supplies
Plants have a built-in capacity to do maths, which helps them regulate food reserves at night, research suggests. UK scientists say they were "amazed" to find an example of such a sophisticated arithmetic calculation in biology.
Plants 'seen doing quantum physics'
The idea that plants make use of quantum physics to harvest light more efficiently has received a boost.
Plants gather packets of light called photons, shuttling them deep into their cells where their energy is converted with extraordinary efficiency.
A report in Science journal adds weight to the idea that an effect called a "coherence" helps determine the most efficient path for the photons.
Experts have called the work "a nice proof" of some contentious ideas.
A report published in Science in 2006 demonstrated that dodder use airborne volatile organic compound cues to locate their host plants. Seedlings of Cuscuta pentagona exhibit positive growth responses to volatiles released by tomato and other species of host plants
Originally posted by fluff007
Certainly an interesting and thought provoking read.
I am aware that there will be some who think it utter rubbish.
But I do not think it is.
Plants and animals alike are so much more than just some grass or a dumb sheep.
The way they act to survive is fascinating.
Even now many people are of the opinion that we (humans) are the only sophisticated, conscious and aware life forms on the planet... Now that is rubbish.
I do not believe that plants can think like we do.
But they certainly do think to a degree.
This is shown by their active and problem-solving behaviour.
And seemingly scientists now believe that plants can do Maths and Quantum Physics...
It is not rubbish. It would be idiotic not to say that the mechanics of organic life is sophisticated [it cannot be in any other way], however, when it comes to consciousness and awareness when talking about grass or flowers is a stretch.
Everything that was described in your quotes are simple concepts that can be built into machines, the acts do not require any thought, or intelligence.
Thought generally refers to any mental or intellectual activity involving an individual's subjective consciousness. It can refer either to the act of thinking or the resulting ideas or arrangements of ideas.
Intelligence has been defined in many different ways including, but not limited to, abstract thought, understanding, self-awareness, communication, reasoning, learning, having emotional knowledge, retaining, planning, and problem solving.
Computers do that too, but computers do not think.
Originally posted by fluff007
Plants can mount a defense when under siege and warn its neighbours of trouble on the way.
How is that not a form of thought or intelligence...
So to you recalling a memory (retrieving information) is not 'thinking'...?
To me that is thinking.
If you encounter a problem that is a possible threat to your life you try and retrieve what information you have on solutions to deal with the situation. Is that not thinking...?
Because humans, plants and animals all do that.
And when you said no to mine saying that I believe that plants certainly think to a degree. Do you have any evidence that shows plants do not think in any way.
There are computers and robots that can now learn, think and communicate with each other. I know a good video of two robots which I think were built by the Japanese and they have begun developing their own language and no one knows what they are saying to each other... I will find the video and links for you....