Friday, November 07, 2008

Plant Blogger

Being a vegetarian, I would very much like to believe that plants cannot "feel" like us; but I have been hearing otherwise although very rarely.

The first time was when I was in 6th standard. We were in Gujarat; Ahmedabad - to be more precise. Doordarshan was the only channel then and there used to be some good programs in the evenings. One of those programs we watched without fail was Surabhi hosted by Siddhartha Kak and Renuka Shahane. Do you even remember?

In one of those episodes, there was a brief coverage of a village where farmers had installed music systems with loud speakers in their farms/fields and the farmers believed that the crop would flourish better when fed with music. I don't remember anything clearly but perhaps they(farmers) had seen the results of their experiment.

Very recently, I read Doomsday Conspiracy by Sidney Sheldon. Ok Hold on! I know he does not create classic literature but the background of his stories is quite authentic - be it medieval paintings or cloister convents, diamond mining in South Africa, multiple personality disorder or Washington politics... he travelled and researched before writing.

So in the aforementioned book, he has written about plants and their ability to "feel" just like us. He has briefly mentioned the works of Jagadish Chandra Bose in the field. He has also mentioned an experiment which interested me as it served to verify yet another of my preconceptions (based on facts) not related to plants at all.

Three identical saplings were grown in three separate chambers where all conditions like soil, water, temperature etc. were identical. One was fed with Western Rock music through a gadget wired into the chamber. The second was fed with East indian Sitar music. The third was not exposed to music at all.
The plant with no music grew as expected. The plant fed with east Indian Sitar music flourished very well with leaves and flowers and all. The one fed with rock music died within a few weeks!

This of course illustrated that plants can feel. Now, if you are wondering what preconception was verified, I will only tell you that it had to do with my view of Rock music :-)

The plants also responded differently when exposed to a priest and a criminal from a prison. The response was measured using some meter that could interpret plant impulses/stimuli or something...

The latest update about this subject came last week as I read Times Of India. Read on...

Meet Midori-san - the plant blogger.

"Midori-san," a 40 cm (16 inches) potted plant on a cafe counter in Kamakura, near Tokyo, blogs every day with the help of a sensor that measures electric signals and a computer algorithm that translates them into Japanese. The plant, a hoya kerrii, is commonly called a "sweetheart plant" because of it leaf shape.

Plants have weak bioelectric currents flowing on the surface of their leaves that rise or fluctuate depending on their environmental conditions.
The computer uses an algorithm to translate the signal data, as well as other factors -- including weather and temperature -- to translate them into words, which are automatically posted on Midori-san's blog (

Wow!!! Now thats some innovation! an idea completely out of the box... who would even care to find out what a plant feels when you dont care how your neighbour feels!

Well, I care, if only to acquire some fancy gyan that I can show off :-)
If you know of a book or some material, research papers that could throw light on this subject please do let me know.

And all my vegetarian readers.... let me know what you think...
My non vegetarian readers.... I have heard many times, your only argument that you wield to defend animal slaughter....your only argument against grass eaters whom you never tire making fun of...
in fact, the only argument, but for which the entire veg non-veg debate is non debatable.

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