News-in-Transition

4 April 2017

 - Just as birders can identify birds by their melodious calls, David George Haskell can distinguish trees by their sounds. The task is especially easy when it rains, as it so often does in the Ecuadorian rainforest. Depending on the shapes and sizes of their leaves, the different plants react to falling drops by producing “a splatter of metallic sparks” or “a low, clean, woody thump” or “a speed-typist’s clatter.” Every species has its own song. Train your ears (and abandon the distracting echoes of a plastic rain jacket) and you can carry out a botanical census through sound alone.

“I’ve taught ornithology to students for many years,” says Haskell, a natural history writer and professor of biology at Sewanee. “And I challenge my students: Okay, now that you’ve learned the songs of 100 birds, your task is to learn the sounds of 20 trees. Can you tell an oak from a maple by ear? I have them go out, pour their attention into their ears, and harvest sounds. It’s an almost meditative experience. And from that, you realize that trees sound different, and they have amazing sounds coming from them. Our unaided ears can hear how a maple tree changes its voice as a soft leaves of early spring change into the dying one of autumn.”

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21 January 2017

flowers - While he was a soldier stationed in a Korean demilitarized zone in the 1960s, the late Dan Carlson, Sr. was horrified when he saw a mother intentionally cripple her child to receive food subsidies. Moved by that experience, he enrolled after returning home at the University of Minnesota under his GI Bill, and buried his head deep in herbology and plant pharmacology textbooks. He was determined to find a method to increase plant growth and help reduce, or even eliminate, world hunger.

Years later, Carlson believed he found part of his answer. He maintained that “green music”—sounds akin to, or recorded from, those found in nature, like birds singing or crickets stridulating—possesses frequencies that boost plant growth and yield rates. He claimed that when exposed to synthesized birdsong, a plant’s stomata—the mouth-like pores on the underside of leaves that absorb water and nutrients and expel oxygen—widen. Before he died in 2012, he listed growing a Purple Passion (Gynura aurantiaca)—a houseplant that usually grows up to a foot—1,300 feet high to the sound of green music as one of his lifetime achievements. It earned him a Guinness World Record.

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 13 January 2017

 - Longtime forest ranger in Germany, Peter Wohlleben, has been studying the forest since he first decided to become a conservationist at 6 years old. He followed his passion for nature throughout college, where he studied forestry and went on to work as an Office Manager of a forestry office. Now he works at the forests in Eifel Gemeinde Hümmel and Wershofen. He recently published a book titled “The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate — Discoveries From a Secret World” that made German forests popular again.

In the book, he explains how trees have their own network, fondly called the “Wood Wide Web,” that keep the trees in a forest interconnected and cause the trees to react to situations in inexplicable ways. Peter took Sally McGrane from the New York Times on a walk through his beloved forest and showed her a pair of beech trees.

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19 December 2016

 - In the past, it had been assumed that the ability to learn was something exclusive to animals. However, new evidence has indicated that this may not be the case. Recent research from the land down under has shown that plants are also capable of learning.

Researchers from the University of Western Australia were determined to see if plants were also capable of “associative learning,” and their findings are quite astonishing. Their experiments with pea seedlings proved that plants can learn and adapt to their environment. In their study, the research team found that the seedlings were able to choose the optimal growth direction for survival by accurately anticipating the occurrence of light after it was removed.

Their findings were recently published in the online journal Scientific Reports. The team was actually inspired by one of the most telling studies in the history of behavioral research – Pavlov’s experiments with dogs, which revealed that behavior could be changed through conditioning.

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14 October 2016

 - There's increasing evidence to show that trees are able to communicate with each other. More than that, trees can learn.

If that's true — and my experience as a forester convinces me it is — then they must be able to store and transmit information.

And scientists are beginning to ask: is it possible that trees possess intelligence, and memories, and emotions? So, to cut to the quick, do trees have brains?

It sounds incredible, but when you discover how trees talk to each other, feel pain, nurture each other, even care for their close relatives and organise themselves into communities, it's hard to be sceptical.
There’s increasing evidence to show that trees are able to communicate with each other

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27 February 2015

- Many of the plants we pass in the background of our day are hard at work. They are employed by the planet as construction workers, teachers, security guards, and doctors. Arguably the top performers in each profession and certainly the hardest workers, never wanting or taking a day off in their life.

Yet it is humanity that fails to understand much of their vital importance in each area. It is said that you don’t miss a good thing till it is gone. This seems to be the case with our plant kingdom. Radiation, heavy metal contamination, genetic tinkering (GMO), and pesticides appear to be muting the lessons of perhaps our greatest teachers and doctors throughout time, plants. As “science” continues to discover and validate what was already known by our ancestors, it is clear we have a lot to discover regarding the assistance plants can give in all areas of human health and consciousness. Perhaps that is why they call it ‘re’ search.

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18 March 2014

 - Like higher organisms, plants appear able to make complex decisions. A new study shows that plants may be able to initiate a survival mechanism by aborting their own seeds to prevent parasite infestation.

Plants have previously been shown to draw alternative sources of energy from other plants. Plants influence each other in many ways and they communicate through "nanomechanical oscillations" vibrations on the tiniest atomic or molecular scale or as close as you can get to telepathic communication.

Plants exhibit intelligence with an intrinsic ability to process information from several type of stimuli that allows optimal decisions about future activities in a given environment.

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10 August 2013

 - Human arrogance has always assumed we are evolutionarily superior to plants, but it appears that modern science may be the antidote to this egocentric view.

Researchers in the UK have discovered an extensive underground network connecting plants by their roots, serving as a complex interplant communication system... a “plant Internet,” if you will.

One organism is responsible for this amazing biochemical highway: a type of fungus called mycorrhizae. Researchers from the University of Aberdeen devised a clever experiment to isolate the effects of these extensive underground networks. They grew sets of broad bean plants, allowing some to develop mycorrhizal nets, but preventing them in others.

They also eliminated the plants’ normal through-the-air communication by covering the plants with bags. Then they infested some of the plants with aphids. The results were remarkable.

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10 May 2013

 - Plants have been shown to draw alternative sources of energy from other plants. They influence one other in many ways and communicate through “nanomechanical oscillations” vibrations on the tiniest atomic or molecular scale, or as close as you can get to telepathic communication.

“Our results show that plants are able to positively influence growth of seeds by some as yet unknown mechanism. Bad neighbors, such as fennel, prevent chili seed germination in the same way. We believe that the answer may involve acoustic signals generated using nanomechanical oscillations from inside the cell which allow rapid communication between nearby plants.”

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12 April 2012

plants1jpg.img assist custom-600x450 - "Most people assume that plants lead a rather passive life, but in reality they move and sense and communicate. It's almost like they show a kind of intelligence."

Two new studies have proven that plants do at least communicate with each other in ways not previously understood by us.

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