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Planet Earth

The Secret Life of Plants: They Hear, Communicate and Scream

We are all too chauvinistic. Considering ourselves to be the pinnacle of evolution, we distribute all living things in a hierarchy according to the degree of closeness to ourselves. Plants are so unlike us that they seem to be creatures as if not quite alive. 

The biblical Noah was not given any instructions about their rescue aboard the ark. Modern vegans do not consider it shameful to take their lives, and fighters against animal exploitation are not interested in “plant rights.” In fact, they have no nervous system, eyes and ears, they cannot hit or run away. All this makes the plants different, but not defective. They do not lead a passive existence of a “vegetable”, but they feel the world around them and react to what is happening around them. In the words of Professor Jack Schultz, “Plants are just very slow animals.”

They hear

The Secret Life of Plants became public in large part thanks to a book by Peter Tompkins, published in the early 1970s, at the height of the New Age movement. Unfortunately, it turned out to be not free from many delusions characteristic of that time and gave rise to many myths, the most famous of which was the “love” of plants for classical music and contempt for modern music.

 “Pumpkins, forced to listen to rock, deviated from the speakers and even tried to climb the slippery glass wall of the chamber,” – Tompkins described the experiments conducted by Dorothy Retallack.

We must say that Mrs. Retallack was not a scientist, but a singer (mezzo-soprano). Her experiments, reproduced by professional botanists, showed no particular plant response to music of any style. But this does not mean that they hear nothing at all. Experiments have demonstrated over and over again that plants can perceive acoustic waves and react to them – for example, the roots of young corn grow in the direction of a source of oscillations with a frequency of 200-300 Hz (approximately from a small octave salt to a pe first). Why is still unknown.

In general, it is difficult to say why plants need “hearing”, although in many cases the ability to respond to sounds can be very useful. Heidi Appel and Rex Cockcroft have shown that Tal’s rezuhovidka perfectly “hears” the vibrations created by the aphid that devours its leaves. This inconspicuous relative of cabbage easily distinguishes such sounds from ordinary noises like the wind, the grasshopper mating song, or the vibrations caused by a harmless fly on a leaf.

Helen Steiner, with support from Microsoft, is working on the Florence art project, a system for communicating with houseplants. According to the concept, signals can be transmitted to the plant using light and color, and the answer can be recognized by the composition of the emitted volatiles and by the general condition of the plant. A computer algorithm “translates” these signals into words of ordinary human speech.

They scream

This sensitivity is based on the work of mechanoreceptors, which are found in the cells of all parts of plants. Unlike ears, they are not localized, but distributed throughout the body, like our tactile receptors, and therefore it was not immediately possible to understand their role. Having noticed an attack, the rezukhovidka actively reacts to it, changing the activity of many genes, preparing for the healing of injuries and releasing glucosinolates, natural insecticides. 

Perhaps, by the nature of the vibrations, plants even distinguish between insects: different types of aphids or caterpillars cause completely different responses from the genome. Other plants, when attacked, secrete sweet nectar, which attracts predatory insects such as wasps, the worst enemies of aphids. And all of them are sure to warn the neighbors: back in 1983, Jack Schultz and Ian Baldwin showed that healthy maple leaves react to the presence of damaged ones, including defense mechanisms. Their communication takes place in the “chemical language” of volatile substances.

They communicate

This courtesy is not limited to relatives, and even distant species are able to “understand” each other’s danger signals: it is easier to repulse intruders together. For example, it has been experimentally shown that tobacco develops a protective reaction when wormwood growing nearby is damaged. The plants seem to be screaming in pain, warning their neighbors, and to hear this scream, you just need to “sniff” well. However, whether this can be considered intentional communication is still unclear. 

Perhaps in this way the plant itself transmits a volatile signal from some of its parts to others, and the neighbors only read its chemical “echo”. Real communication is provided to them … “mushroom Internet”.

The root systems of higher plants form close symbiotic associations with the mycelium of soil fungi. They constantly exchange organic matter and mineral salts. But the flow of substances is apparently not the only one moving along this network. Plants whose mycorrhiza is isolated from their neighbors develop more slowly and tolerate testing worse. 

This suggests that mycorrhiza also serves for the transmission of chemical signals – through the mediation, and possibly even “censorship” from the fungal symbionts. This system has been compared to a social network, and is often referred to simply as the Wood Wide Web.

The Swiss startup Vivent offers plant lovers to purchase a ready-made device PhytlSigns. By reading weak electrical signals from the stem or leaves, it converts it into a kind of music, which, according to manufacturers, allows you to assess the state and even “mood” of the plant.

They move

All these “feelings” and “communications” help plants find water, nutrients and light, defend themselves against parasites and herbivores, and attack themselves. They allow you to rebuild metabolism, grow and reorient the position of leaves – to move. The behavior of the Venus flytrap may seem like something incredible: not only does this plant eat animals, it also hunts them. 

But the insectivorous predator is no exception among other flora. Just by speeding up the video of a week in the life of a sunflower, we will see how it turns to follow the sun and how it “falls asleep” at night, covering the leaves and flowers. In high speed shooting, the growing root tip looks exactly like a worm or caterpillar crawling towards the target.

Plants have no muscles, and movement is provided by cell growth and turgor pressure, the “density” of their filling with water. The cells act like a complexly coordinated hydraulic system. Long before video recordings and the time-lapse technique, Darwin drew attention to this, who studied the slow but obvious reactions of the growing root to the environment. 

His book ‘The Movement of Plants’ ends with the famous:

“It is hardly an exaggeration to say that the tip of the root, endowed with the ability to direct the movements of neighboring parts, acts like the brain of one of the lower animals … which perceives impressions from the senses and gives direction to various movements.”

Some scholars took Darwin’s words as another epiphany. Biologist at the University of Florence Stefano Mancuso drew attention to a special group of cells on the growing tips of the stem and roots, which is located at the border between the dividing cells of the apical meristem and the cells of the stretch zone that continue to grow but not divide. Back in the late 1990s, Mancuso discovered that the activity of this “transition zone” directs the expansion of the cells in the stretch zone, and thus the movement of the entire root. This happens due to the redistribution of auxins, which are the main plant growth hormones.

They think?

As in many other tissues, scientists notice very familiar changes in membrane polarization in the cells of the transition zone themselves. The charges inside and outside them fluctuate, like the potentials on the membranes of neurons. Of course, the performance of a real brain will never be achieved by such a tiny group: there are no more than a few hundred cells in each transition zone. But even in a small herbaceous plant, the root system can include millions of such developing tips. In sum, they already give quite an impressive number of “neurons”. The structure of this thinking network resembles a decentralized, distributed Internet network, and its complexity is quite comparable to the real brain of a mammal.

It is difficult to say how much this “brain” is capable of thinking, but Israeli botanist Alex Kaselnik and his colleagues found that in many cases, plants do behave almost like us. Scientists put common seed peas in conditions under which it could grow roots in a pot with a stable nutrient content or in a neighboring one, where it was constantly changing. 

It turned out that if there is enough food in the first pot, the peas will prefer it, but if there is too little, they will start to “take risks”, and more roots will grow in the second pot. Not all specialists were ready to accept the idea of ​​the possibility of thinking in plants. Apparently, she shocked Stefano Mancuso himself more than others: today the scientist is the founder and head of the unique “International Laboratory of Plant Neurobiology” and calls for the development of “plant-like” robots. 

This call has its own logic. After all, if the task of such a robot is not to work on a space station, but to study the water regime or monitor the environment, then why not focus on plants that are so remarkably adapted to this? And when the time comes to start terraforming Mars, who better than plants will “tell” how to return life to the desert? .. It remains to find out what plants themselves think about space exploration. who are so admirably adapted to it? And when the time comes to start terraforming Mars, who better than plants will “tell” how to return life to the desert? .. It remains to find out what plants themselves think about space exploration. who are so admirably adapted to it? And when the time comes to start terraforming Mars, who better than plants will “tell” how to return life to the desert? .. It remains to find out what plants themselves think about space exploration.


Plants have a wonderful sense of the position of their own “body” in space. The plant, laid to one side, will orient itself and continue to grow in a new direction, perfectly distinguishing where is up and where is down. While on a rotating platform, it will grow in the direction of centrifugal force. Both are associated with the work of statocytes, cells that contain heavy statolithic spheres that settle under gravity. Their position allows the plant to “feel” the vertical right.


Planet Earth

Volcanologists discover “domed magma uplift” in the Yellowstone caldera


The last time a major eruption of Yellowstone occurred 640 thousand years ago. The supervolcano is currently under close scrutiny by scientists who are trying to recognize the slightest signs of a possible future catastrophe. 

According to some experts, the eruption is unlikely to happen again, since the volcano is quite “old”, while others are sure that it will definitely happen again, the question is only in time.

Volcanologist Robert Smith of the University of Utah made an amazing breakthrough in understanding the Yellowstone system when he noticed a change in water levels in a local lake. The study focused on looking for signs of deformation in its caldera, which could indicate an impending eruption, Express reports.

“He recognized some of these signs, especially in the changes in the level of Yellowstone Lake, and saw that his basin was tilting, which caused the water level to rise at one end of the lake and fall at the other,” geologist Robert Christiansen said.

According to the data received, over the past 50 years, the caldera has risen by about two-thirds of a meter. This was later found to be normal for Yellowstone, as scientists observed periods of upswing followed by declines.

The experts explained that this is a rather impressive “domed uplift”, which indicates magmatic activity. 

“Either the magma invaded the crust or it heated the hydrothermal system, causing it to expand and lift the crust,” Christiansen said. 

Later it was found that the periods of rise last for about ten years, then a period of stability begins – about a year, after which the water level falls.

It is currently at a low point. The results were based on an analysis of volcanic deposits scattered tens of thousands of miles across the region.

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Planet Earth

Piraha – people who live for the day and are considered the happiest on Earth

In the wilds of the Brazilian jungle, the people of Piraha live, which is difficult to understand for a modern person. They do not know the past and the future, consider prolonged sleep dangerous and have no idea what stress is. The missionary who came to the piraha to teach them life, came to the conclusion that these people are the happiest on Earth. And years later, he completely realized that he needed to learn from them, and not vice versa.

We are publishing rare pictures of these mysterious people and also tell the most shocking facts about Pirah people, who see the world absolutely differently from most people on the planet.. And we can also tell the most shocking facts about the people of Pirah, who see the world absolutely differently from most people on the planet.

Live here and now

The essence of the Pirah culture is explained very simply: “Live here and now” In their language there is only the present tense, because, according to the people, the only important thing that is worth communicating to others is what is experienced at that very moment.

Who are Piraha - people who live one day and are considered the happiest on the planet
©  bad.planet / Instagram

Piraha believe that sleep is harmful 

They were shocked when they found out that someone was sleeping for 8 hours. The people are sure that if you fall asleep for a long time, you can wake up as a different person. However, there is also an opinion that such a regime was formed due to the fact that the area where the people live is teeming with snakes. Therefore, they sleep in fits and starts for half an hour and no more than two hours a night.

They only distinguish between dark and light colors. Red and yellow confuse people, as well as green and blue.

Who are Piraha - people who live one day and are considered the happiest on the planet

The number of Pirah is only 800 people

Usually, representatives of primitive tribes would rather take their own lives than lose their honor and respect. But not a feast. They basically don’t understand what anger or despair is . “If Haaiohaaa dropped the fish into the water, that’s bad. No fish, no dinner. But what does Haaiohaaa have to do with it? ” – they just think.

The concepts of “century”, “time” and “history” are empty phrases for pirah, and almost none of them remember their grandparents. When asked what was the tribe before they laconic answer: “Everything is the same’.

Mothers don’t tell their children bedtime stories. In addition, here, in principle, no one remembers any stories: collective memory is built only on the personal experience of the oldest living member of the tribe.

Also, the piraha do not know what guilt and shame are. A husband can easily leave his wife if she is no longer young and pretty. Moreover, the woman will not be angry with him and will simply say something in the spirit:

“It happened because it happened, that’s all. So, we need to look for a new man.”

Who are Piraha - people who live one day and are considered the happiest on the planet
©  Smithsonian Channel Smithsonian Channel / YouTube

In their language there are no words for the left and right sides, and the people do not understand why this is necessary.

Piraha mothers do not know how many children they have

But they distinguish them by their faces. The point is that this nation cannot count. Piraha do not even perceive the word “one”. However, they have concepts of “several” and “many”. That is, they can say that they have several children, but they cannot give the exact number.

Who are Piraha - people who live one day and are considered the happiest on the planet

Piraha show no interest in the achievements of modern civilization. Moreover, they completely do not understand the way of life of modern people. “ How can you sleep and eat so much? “- this is how the people think about white people. However, they began to wear clothes, and also used aluminum utensils, threads, matches and fishing tackle.

This culture lacks religion and the concept of God. Although belief in the otherworld is common in most cultures, piraha is useless.

Who are Piraha - people who live one day and are considered the happiest on the planet
©  Smithsonian Channel Smithsonian Channel / YouTube

Every few years, the inhabitants of the people take a new name for themselves, which corresponds to the next period of their life.

Due to the peculiar perception of time, this unusual people do not see the need to store food for future use. What’s more, they don’t treat food as significant at all. If you could not find something for lunch, then  you can skip lunch and eat the next day.

Кто такие пираха — люди, которые живут одним днем и считаются самыми счастливыми на планете

In the Pirah, everyone is equal 

There is no social hierarchy. Perhaps that is why researchers note the amazing vitality of these people. In their tribe there is no envy, anger, theft, conspiracies and intrigues.

They don’t say thank you, sorry and please. In other words, they don’t have any courtesies. Piraha are perplexed why all this is needed, because they all treat each other so warmly without any formalities.

Who are Piraha - people who live one day and are considered the happiest on the planet

Missionary and linguist Daniel Everett wanted to teach Pirah all the benefits of civilization and lived for many years among these unhurried, constantly laughing and knowing no sins people. During this time, he suddenly became an atheist and changed his worldview. After all, the Pirahaha absolutely did not understand why to believe in someone whom no one saw, and why this someone influences the happiness and life of an individual.

Piraha do not suffer from mental disorders and depression. According to Everett, this nation has a phenomenal degree of life satisfaction, and without banned substances and antidepressants.

Piraha are sometimes called the happiest people on the planet.

 According to some experts, while some people remember the past or spend time studying the features of other cultures, this people simply lives their own lives, smiles, laughs and knows no troubles.

Do you think a person from a civilized society cannot understand the inhabitants of the jungle? Or is there something attractive in their principles of life?

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Planet Earth

How to create a “heaven on earth” for all mankind?

We ask ourselves this question and tried to answer it. Of course, by “paradise” we do not mean “paradise booths” somewhere in the mythical nooks of the past, but a very real place – our home called planet Earth.

Moreover, this is our only home at the moment, since the prospects for the colonization of other planets of the solar system for us are still rather dreams, and very far from being realized.

Two main problems for humanity

Do you know what we like about people? The fact that even being in difficult living conditions, they do not limit their interests only to how to earn a living for themselves – no, they are interested in more global issues: political, social, philosophical or scientific in nature. But what worries them the most?

In our opinion, most people on our planet are preoccupied with two main problems:

1) Security (in every sense of the word, including economic)

2) Happiness (in the broadest sense of the word)

While these problems may seem very different at first glance, they actually boil down to caring for your own well-being.

In this context, it is quite easy to understand why humans do not live in paradise on Earth.

There are many problems that are prevalent all over the world today, such as wars and crime (with all the associated problems), as well as various health problems, both physical and mental.

It seems obvious that no one wants to live in a world where they are constantly under the threat of violent crimes, wars or other disasters, and it is also clear that many people want to find love and happiness not only, and not so much for themselves, but rather for those who are very dear to them.

Hence, the most obvious way to create a paradise on earth would be to increase safety for all people and increase the possibilities for human relationships.

When it comes to security, there are a number of obvious things that can be done. For example, many people are concerned about pollution and environmental degradation, as well as related issues such as global warming and overpopulation.

There is an obvious solution to this in the form of cleaner energy sources (such as solar energy) and more efficient modes of transportation (including space travel). This would help reduce fears about climate change at least partially.

Another issue that is widely discussed is the possibility of a nuclear war between large countries. This could potentially lead to the extinction of all of humanity, if it happened at the moment, given the advances in technology and weapons compared to previous generations.

In addition to these issues, there are a number of other issues that seem to be at least somewhat predominant, such as privacy, economic insecurity and social inequality.

What we can do?

If we digress from philosophical reasoning and look at the real situation that has developed in the world over the past ten years, we can see that the world has ceased to live by the rules.

If earlier, there were official and unofficial rules of “behavior of states in international relations”, now these “gentlemen’s agreements” are completely ignored.

One possible solution to this could be the creation of a “world government” that would control all aspects of human life (including economy and technology). However, this will almost certainly have some negative consequences.

World government: pros and cons

Pros : One government of all human civilization, by definition, will save us from wars, economic inequality, social inequality and the likelihood of global destruction in the event of a nuclear war. In fact, on planet Earth, there will be one huge country in which the entire population of the planet will live.

Cons : There is a risk that people will come to power who will turn the good goal of “heaven on earth” into the possibility of establishing a dictatorship in which all the disadvantages of the previous type of government will remain, when “everyone was for himself”, but already without the opportunity to defend their interests as it was when there was a system of scattered but sovereign states.

How, then, to create a paradise on earth for everyone?

1) Develop future technologies that will help us save the planet and stop global climate change.

2) To develop medicine in the direction of increasing the life expectancy of a person, which will entail an increase in the quality of life, and an increase in “happiness” for each individual citizen.

3) To achieve maximum protection of people from any threats . The safety of citizens in all spheres of life should become a priority for the state.

4) Revive the system of “international rules”, which must be observed by all countries, without exception.

5) Limit the proliferation of nuclear weapons in order to increase the overall level of the sense of security of all mankind, and save it even from hypothetically possible mutual destruction in the event of a conflict with the use of nuclear weapons.

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