Research suggests plants might be capable of more than we suspect. Some scientists - controversially - describe plants as "intelligent".
They argue a better understanding of their capabilities could help us solve some of the world's thorniest problems.
Four experts talk to the BBC World Service Inquiry programme about what plants can teach us. Stefano Mancuso: Plant intelligence is real
Professor Stefano Mancuso leads the International Laboratory for Plant Neurobiology at the University of Florence.
"We are convinced that plants are cognitive and intelligent, so we use techniques and methods normally used to study cognitive animals.
"The main problem with plants is they move much more slowly than animals so we need to record plant movement for many days.
"We did an experiment with two climbing bean plants. If you put a single support between them, they compete for it.
"What is interesting is the behaviour of the loser: it immediately sensed the other plant had reached the pole and started to find an alternative. This was astonishing and it demonstrates the plants were aware of their physical environment and the behaviour of the other plant. In animals we call this consciousness.
"We don't have a clear idea of how plants are able to sense the behaviour of other plants.
"Plants are much more sensitive than animals. Every root apex can detect 20 different physical and chemical parameters - light, gravity, magnetic field, pathogens and so on.
"Plants distribute all along the body the functions that in animals are concentrated in single organs. Whereas in animals almost the only cells producing electrical signals are in the brain, the plant is a kind of distributed brain in which almost every cell is able to produce them.
The concept of “green energy” got a whole lot more literal this week, when scientists announced they’d successfully turned living roses into electronic circuits. That’s right—cyborg flowers are now a thing.
Despite how it sounds, the aim isn’t to create a race of leafy green borg that will one day rise up and enslave their human masters. Instead, think smart plants that can sense and display environmental changes, or crops whose growth can be regulated at the flick of a switch. Or plant-based fuel cells that convert the photosynthetic sugars into electricity. The very first electronic plant, developed by researchers at Linköping University in Sweden and described this week in Science Advances, is a step toward any one of those applications and many more.
“As far as we know, there are no previously published research results regarding electronics produced in plants,” said study lead study author Magnus Berggren in a statement. “No one’s done this before.”
Magic tricks work because they take advantage of the brain's sensory assumptions, tricking audiences into seeing phantoms or overlooking sleights of hand. Now a team of researchers has discovered that even brainless single-celled yeast have sensory biases that can be hacked by a carefully engineered illusion, a finding that could be used to develop new approaches to fighting diseases such as cancer.
The next time someone at your office lets out a "silent but deadly" emission, maybe you should thank them. A new study at the University of Exeter in England suggests that exposure to hydrogen sulfide — a.k.a. what your body produces as bacteria breaks down food, causing gas — could prevent mitochondria damage. Yep, the implication is what you're thinking: People are taking the research to mean that smelling farts could prevent disease and even cancer. The study, published in the Medicinal Chemi
In this movie we talk about employee engagement. What it is, what it can mean for your organization and how you can achieve it. In today’s globalized and competitive business world, engaged employees are motivated to go the extra mile. They are aligned with your organization’s vision and objectives and driven to perform well for your clients. Increasing your employee engagement will boost the profits and the sustainability of your business.
Fred Herzog was born in Germany in 1930. Immigrating to Canada in 1952, he took odd jobs wherever he could find them. He rented a place at a rooming house, which is where he met Ferro Shelley Marincowitz, a South African who also happened to be a medical photographer. Herzog had an interest in p
NASA’s new Space Launch System is going to be the first to carry astronauts beyond low Earth orbit since Saturn V went into space—but it will also carry 10 percent more payload. That’s giving its engineers an awful lot of math to worry about, and this is what their work looks like.
Whether they're designing flying cars or teleporters, aspiring young inventors will have the chance to share their visions for the technology of the future, as part of a nationwide challenge hosted by the makers of Disney's upcoming film "Tomorrowland"...
The idea of coming full circle and returning whence we came is captured perfectly by this beautiful new burial method developed in Italy. The Capsula Mundi project by designers Anna Citelli and Raoul Bretzel has developed an organic, biodegradable burial capsule that will turn the deceased's body into nutrients for a tree that will grow out of their remains.
A fellow who hides in his shell until danger has passed may not seem like the epitome of manliness. Yet among hermit crabs, the shyest males have the most to offer the ladies. It's all part of their evolutionary strategy.
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