FOLLOW KIM BELLARD
In the light of recent open letter from AI leaders about the ban on AI development, I’m also announcing a temporary halt to writing about it, though I doubt either of these orders will be around for long (and this week’s headline, if you don’t pay attention). I mean, an homage to Harlan Ellison’s Classic AI Short Story). Instead, this week I want to write about plants. Specifically, the new research that suggests that plants can scream in their own right.
Bear with me.
To be fair, the researchers didn’t use the word “screaming;” they talk about “ultrasonic sound in the air,” but nearly every research report I’ve seen uses more provocative terms. It has long been known that plants are not passive, responding to stimuli in their environment with changes in color, odor and shape, but these researchers “show that plants under stress emit airborne sounds that can be remotely recorded and classified.” Furthermore, they claim: “These informative sounds can also be detected by other organisms.”
It will make you wonder what houseplants are saying about you when you forget to water it or catch a cat.
They basically tortured – what else would you call it? – plants are subjected to various stresses, then use machine learning (damn – I guess I To be writing about AI) to classify, with up to 70% accuracy, different types of reactions, such as too much water versus too little. Even trees that have been cut down and are therefore dying, can still produce sound, at least for the short term. They speculate that other plants, as well as insects, can “hear” and respond to sound.
Ultrasonic sound is thought to be produced through a process known as cavitation, which is a well-known process in which pressure changes in a liquid create tiny bubbles that burst and create waves. assault. The specific mechanism for this has not been determined.
The study mainly used tomato plants and tobacco, but also found that other plants, including corn, wheat, grapes and cacti, also make sounds. Lead researcher Lilach Hadany, a professor at Tel Aviv University, said: “We were able to distinguish between the sounds emitted by tomatoes and tobacco, between tomatoes and cacti, as well as between tomatoes that have been cut and dry tomatoes, slightly dry tomatoes and very dry tomatoes. speak Business Insider.
Professor Hadany said: “When these plants are in good condition, they make less than one sound per hour, but when stressed they make more sounds, sometimes 30 to 50 sounds per hour. hour. Her team previously showed that plants can “hear,” such as when bees buzz nearby causing them to produce more nectar.
The authors write: “These findings could change the way we think about the plant kingdom, which has until now been considered largely silent. “Our results, which demonstrate the ability to distinguish between drought-stressed and control plants based on the plant’s airborne acoustics, open a new direction for research in the field of precision agriculture.”
Instead of accidentally fertilizing and watering them, according to our schedule, plants can tell us exactly what they need, when.
It’s even more interesting. “Even in a quiet field, there are actually sounds that we don’t hear, and those sounds carry information. There are animals that can hear these sounds, so it’s likely a lot of acoustic interactions are going on.” Professor Hadany explained. “So now that we know that plants make sounds, the next question is—’who could be listening?’ We are currently investigating the responses of other organisms, both animals and plants, to these sounds, and we are also exploring the possibility of identifying and interpreting sounds in completely natural environments. .”
Not everyone believes that communication is taking place. “A lot of the sounds in the world are made that are not ‘intentional’ signals, but can nonetheless be heard and used by other organisms for their own benefit. So the concept of communication is really challenging…does it need to work two-way and be treated as such?” Daniel Robert, professor of biological sciences at the University of Bristol’s School of Biological Sciences, speak CNN. He was not involved in the study.
On whether those sounds suggest that plants have as “emotions” as we might think them to be, “I think we don’t yet,” says Professor Hadany. admit. “We cannot say that trees feel stress and therefore make sounds. It is possible that the sound is produced completely passively, like a physical process.”
All of this reminds me of the outrage a few years ago about “Wood Wide Web,” one theory is that plants communicate through their roots through a network of fungi, although this still controversial. The problem, however, is that there is more communication going on in nature than we realize. We used to think we were the only animals that could communicate, the only social animals, the only animals that used tools, and all of that has been debunked. Now, if plants can scream, the line between animals and plants is less and less clearly defined.
Likewise, the line between “us” and our microbiome is becoming very blurred. Its has long been known that not only makes our microbial cells outnumber “our” cells, but also their DNA a lot more than ours. Who is really “we”?
Furthermore, our microbiome is actively communicating with us, not only in the gut (where it is most abundant) but also with Brain And other agencies. That communication has the least impact on our health, such as with multiple sclerosis or depression. It turned out that cancer cells have their own microbiome (and mycobiome). Multiple connections will be detected, such as anti-inflammatory effectwhich can be the foundation heart disease And Autoimmune disorder.
Unfortunately, we know more about what plants are communicating with the world than what our microbiome is communicating with us.
All reinforce my belief that 21st the century will be the century of biology – whether it is information technology, industryor medicine. Yet we’re still overusing everything with antibiotics and wreaking havoc on our microbiome, with unknown (but perhaps terrible) consequences.
So maybe we should do a better job of listening to plants and figuring out what else in nature we should pay more attention to. Our health can depend on it.
Kim is a former director of e-marketing at a Blues grand scheme, editor of The Late & Lamentations Tincture.ioand is now a regular THCB contributor.