Friday, July 18, 2014

Weekend Rebel Science Excursion - 34

This is Friday, so let's think.

Let's think about nature and how much our culture has missed, not looked for, or does not care about it.

Or has forgotten about it.

Let's limit that inquiry to plants and what they see or don't, hear or don't, taste or don't, feel or don't, and other senses they do or don't have, but most of all, let's think about what this has to do with human survival.

Leaving out the obvious (food for us and other animals), is there anything of rebel science in this equation?

First of all, the plant world has an awareness that many people do not have.

Which is that the climate system, the global climate system, is active in ways that are moving them:
Vegetation around the world is on the move, and climate change is the culprit, according to a new analysis of global vegetation shifts led by a University of California, Berkeley, ecologist in collaboration with researchers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service.

In a paper published June 7 in the journal Global Ecology and Biogeography, researchers present evidence that over the past century, vegetation has been gradually moving toward the poles and up mountain slopes, where temperatures are cooler, as well as toward the equator, where rainfall is greater.
(Climate Change & Major Vegetation Shifts Worldwide, emphasis added). This tells us that plants have similar senses that help them keep "an ear to the ground" for climate factors that they should be aware of, or they will cease to exist.

One Tenet of Ecocosmology indicates that we should also be aware of the many forms of intelligence around us:
4) The seeds of intelligence (genetic and memetic clues) required to successfully perform The Test are distributed into all species, races, religions, sciences, creeds, and genders. Thus, all individuals should be respected as carriers of some quanta of the seed of intelligence required to pass The Test, lest a fundamental quantum of necessary intelligence be lost.
(The Tenets of Ecocosmology). In our cultural hubris we can tend to assume that we are the the sum and apex of intelligence, but that is not the case.

The oldest of microbes, for example, did quantum physics a billion years, maybe more, before we did with photovoltaic solar panels (The Tiniest Scientists Are Very Old).

Some plants have tens of times more genes than we have in our human genome:
There was nothing extraordinary about the Japanese canopy plant — that is, until Pellicer analyzed the stained cells using flow cytometry, a high-throughput technique to detect features of cells suspended in liquid. To Pellicer’s eye, the balls of DNA inside P. japonica’s nuclei looked “really, really big,” he recalls. Soon, he confirmed that P. japonica carries the largest known eukaryotic genome on the planet, with a whopping 150 billion base pairs — 50 times the size of the human genome. “We were astonished,” says Pellicer. Plants in general are known to have sizable genomes, often as a result of whole-genome duplications, so “we were expecting to find big genomes, but nothing that big.”
The Human Genome Project’s most startling finding was that human genes, as currently defined, make up less than 2 percent of all the DNA on the genome, and that the total number of genes is relatively small. Scientists had predicted there might be 80,000 to 140,000 human genes, but the current tally is fewer than 25,000 — as one scientific paper put it, SOMEWHERE BETWEEN that of A CHICKEN AND A GRAPE. The remaining 98 percent of our DNA, once dismissed as “junk DNA,” is now taken more seriously. Researchers have focused on introns, in the gaps between the coding segments of genes, which may play a crucial role in regulating gene expression, by switching them on and off in response to environmental stimuli.
(Weekend Rebel Science Excursion - 26). Do plants have senses (sight, smell / taste, touch, hearing, balance, memory)?

Please watch the video below of a lecture given by a well known scientist who knows some things that plants know and that we too should know.

Have a good weekend!

What a Plant Knows, by Daniel Chamovitz:

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