Tag Archives | Plants

Teaching A Cactus The Japanese Alphabet

Could plants communicate with us, if we had the right way of listening? The wife of a Japanese researcher gives her cacti a language lesson:
The chief of research for Fuji Electronic Industries has constructed special instruments which translate the electrical output of plants into modulated sounds, giving voice to a cactus. Relying on her affinity for plants, Mrs. Hashimoto looks forward to actual conversation with her cactus...Convinced it possesses an intelligence, she is determined to teach it the Japanese alphabet.
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Plants That Point To Hidden Ruins

photogravure1BLDG BLOG delves into the beauty of how plant life can reflect what is buried in the earth below, and could even be used to find the location of hidden treasure:

I absolutely love stories like this, and I swoon a little bit when I read them; it turns out that “plants growing over old sites of human habitation have a different chemistry from their neighbors, and these differences can reveal the location of buried ruins.”

The brief article goes on to tell the story of two archaeologists, who, in collecting plants in Greenland, made the chemical discovery: “Some of their samples were unusually rich in nitrogen-15, and subsequent digs revealed that these plants had been growing above long-abandoned Norse farmsteads.”

The idea that your garden could be more like an indicator landscape for lost archaeological sites—that, below the flowers, informing their very chemistry, perhaps even subtly altering their shapes and colors, are the traces of abandoned architecture—is absolutely unbelievable.

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Seedbank Vaults In Case Of Mass Extinction

Nordic Genetic Resource Center Seed Vials, Svalbard Global SeedVia Wired, Dornith Doherty’s photographs offer a glimpse inside several of humanity’s vital seed-saving facilities, where samples of our planet’s flora are stored and protected in case of future mass extinction (be it due to climate change, nuclear war, astroid impact, or disease epidemic). Perhaps most stark is the Svalbard “Doomsday” Seed Vault, located on an island near the North Pole. One of these tiny outposts could someday be the savior of life on Earth:

Dornith Doherty’s documentary images of seed-saving facilities capture the logistics — and existential anxiety — behind the elaborate steps now in place to preserve the world’s crop diversity.

Once a traditional, year-to year practice by smallholding farmers to develop sturdy varietals, this simple act of putting seed aside has more and more become the concern of international affairs and corporate policy.

“Seed saving and its role in preserving biodiversity is of utmost importance. We are in an era called the Holocene extinction, which is notable for its decline in biodiversity,” says Doherty.

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A Simple Cure For Heart Disease

David Irving

David Irving

[disinfo ed.’s note: the following is an excerpt from The Protein Myth: Significantly reducing the Risk of Cancer, Heart Disease, Stoke and Diabetes while Saving the Animals and the Planet courtesy of John Hunt Publishing.]

Current research suggests that death from cardiovascular disease is on the decline. However, the incidence of people who get heart disease remains the same, and risk factors may be increasing.1 (Cardiovascular disease includes stroke, high blood pressure, heart failure, and other conditions like arrhythmias, atrial fibrillation, cardiomyopathy, and peripheral arterial disease.) Discoveries that isolate the cause of heart disease and offer cures like the remarkable breakthroughs made by Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr. and Dr. Dean Ornish should, consequently, excite cardiologists. Yet in spite of the proved effectiveness of these new treatment options, most mainstream cardiologists and cardiovascular treatment facilities have ignored them.

Dr. Esselstyn began a twelve year cardiac disease arrest and reversal trial in 1985.… Read the rest

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Wild & Crazy Sci-Fi Abilities of Real-Life Plants

LSOHVia Blastr:

Plants don’t get enough respect as sci-fi monsters. Sure, Triffids will always rule, but sci-fi baddies tend to be mutants, zombies, vampires and other altered mammals. This is in ignorance of plants’ amazingly creepy special abilities. To prove it, we’ve dug up six plant skills that freak us out more than Godzilla.

Eating Rats: Okay, here’s the horrifying plot: You’re a missionary near the Philippine Archipelago. While doing your daily missioning or whatever, you wander up to the top of a mountain. Thirsty, you stumble upon what looks like an ornate birdbath filled with nectar. Leaning over to take a sip, you see a dead rat inside … and it’s slowly being digested by the plant.

This is Nepenthes attenboroughii, one of the most badass scary plants on Earth. See, while most pitcher plants stick to eating bugs, Nepenthes attenboroughii prefers to lure in birds and rats by looking as tasty as possible.

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Number Of Species On Earth Estimated At 8.7 Million

SpeciesEver wonder how many species are sharing this Earth? Apparently it’s 8.7 million, give or take a few. This takes into account the few thousand plant or marine species we haven’t discovered yet or documented. Via Physorg:

That is a new, estimated total number of species on Earth — the most precise calculation ever offered — with 6.5 million species found on land and 2.2 million (about 25 percent of the total) dwelling in the ocean depths.

Announced today by Census of Marine Life scientists, the figure is based on an innovative, validated analytical technique that dramatically narrows the range of previous estimates. Until now, the number of species on Earth was said to fall somewhere between 3 million and 100 million.

Furthermore, the study, published today by PLoS Biology, says a staggering 86% of all species on land and 91% of those in the seas have yet to be discovered, described and catalogued.

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Food Ark: Will Seed Banks Save Our Sources of Food?

“Experts estimate that we have lost more than half of the world’s food varieties over the past century”. Charles Siebert writes in National Geographic:

Svalbard Vault Mountain (Cutaway). Illustration: Global Crop Diversity Trust

Svalbard Vault Mountain (Cutaway). Illustration: Global Crop Diversity Trust

A crisis is looming: To feed our growing population, we’ll need to double food production. Yet crop yields aren’t increasing fast enough, and climate change and new diseases threaten the limited varieties we’ve come to depend on for food. Luckily we still have the seeds and breeds to ensure our future food supply — but we must take steps to save them.

Six miles outside the town of Decorah, Iowa, an 890-acre stretch of rolling fields and woods called Heritage Farm is letting its crops go to seed. It seems counterintuitive, but then everything about this farm stands in stark contrast to the surrounding acres of neatly rowed corn and soybean fields that typify modern agriculture. Heritage Farm is devoted to collecting rather than growing seeds.

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Atomic Gardens: Mutant Plants In The Suburbs

110420_atomic_03Pruned talks to Paige Johnson about the strange story of atomic gardening, a post-war phenomenon in which plants were irradiated in the hopes of producing beneficial mutations. It’s a largely forgotten, surreal slice of 1950s culture, with housewives hosting atomic peanut dinner parties and attending Radioactivity Jubilees:

After WWII, there was a concerted effort to find ‘peaceful’ uses for atomic energy. One of the ideas was to bombard plants with radiation and produce lots of mutations, some of which, it was hoped, would lead to plants that bore more heavily or were disease or cold-resistant or just had unusual colors. The experiments were mostly conducted in giant gamma gardens on the grounds of national laboratories in the US but also in Europe and countries of the former USSR.

These efforts utimately reached far into the world outside the laboratory grounds in several ways: in plant varieties based on mutated stocks that were—and still are—grown commercially, in irradiated seeds that were sold to the public by atomic entrepreneur C.J.

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Indonesia’s Plant-Based Birth Control Pill for Men

GandarusaWhile the U.S. progress lags, Indonesia readies a male contraception pill. Patrick Winn writes on Global Post:

On the remote Indonesian island of Papua, tribesmen have long noticed the curious effect of a shrub called “gandarusa.”

If you chew its leaves often enough, men say, your wife won’t get pregnant. Indonesian scientists, who have transferred this folk method from the jungle to the lab, claim they can extract the shrub’s active ingredient and mass produce it as an over-the-counter pill.

If they’re right, they will accomplish what Western pharmaceutical giants have researched but failed to deliver for decades: a birth control pill for men.

“With luck, it could be released late this year, but it will probably be sold in stores early next year,” said Sugiri Syarief, the head of Indonesia’s state-run National Family Planning Coordination Board. Researchers began analyzing gandarusa in 1988, Sugiri said. Animal and human trials began in the 1990s and the plant’s effective compound was patented in 2007.

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