Skip to comments.Plants 'do maths' to control overnight food supplies
Posted on 06/26/2013 8:27:44 PM PDT by SeekAndFind
Plants have a built-in capacity to do maths, which helps them regulate food reserves at night, research suggests.
UK scientists say they were "amazed" to find an example of such a sophisticated arithmetic calculation in biology.
Mathematical models show that the amount of starch consumed overnight is calculated by division in a process involving leaf chemicals, a John Innes Centre team reports in e-Life journal.
Birds may use similar methods to preserve fat levels during migration.
The scientists studied the plant Arabidopsis, which is regarded as a model plant for experiments.
Overnight, when the plant cannot use energy from sunlight to convert carbon dioxide into sugars and starch, it must regulate its starch reserves to ensure they last until dawn.
Experiments by scientists at the John Innes Centre, Norwich, show that to adjust its starch consumption so precisely, the plant must be performing a mathematical calculation - arithmetic division.
This is the first concrete example in biology of such a sophisticated arithmetic calculation
"They're actually doing maths in a simple, chemical way - that's amazing, it astonished us as scientists to see that," study leader Prof Alison Smith told BBC News.
"This is pre-GCSE maths they're doing, but they're doing maths."
The scientists used mathematical modelling to investigate how a division calculation can be carried out inside a plant.
During the night, mechanisms inside the leaf measure the size of the starch store. Information about time comes from an internal clock, similar to the human body clock.
The researchers proposed that the process is mediated by the concentrations of two kinds of molecules called "S" for starch and "T" for time.
(Excerpt) Read more at bbc.co.uk ...
How the Plants do math:
If the S molecules stimulate starch breakdown, while the T molecules prevent this from happening, then the rate of starch consumption is set by the ratio of S molecules to T molecules. In other words, S divided by T.
“This is the first concrete example in biology of such a sophisticated arithmetic calculation,” said mathematical modeller Prof Martin Howard, of the John Innes Centre.
And plants know where the sun is, and where water can be found, and a whole boatload of other things. This is not news. The natural world shows processes that are logical and involve scientific and mathematical concepts. A DNA molecule knows what to do, doesn’t it?
They’re also fighting zombies..
Rabbits can multiply.
Oh Noes! What will the Vegetarians and Vegans eat now, that they have learned that plants have higher thought processes?
I guess since it’s okay by many of them to still kill babies they will have to shift to Soylent Green!
I wonder why, the first word that popped into my head while reading this was:
Plants and animals are all made of the same stuff. All life forms are intelligent, some appear to be even more intelligent than human beings. Our ‘mind’ is comprised of the collective intelligence of the cells in our body. They are called Eukaryotes. All Eukaryotes are intelligent. Plants are made of the same thing. So are bears, and ants, and most all species on Earth.
You would be amazed at all the ‘maths’ that the cells in your body perform to keep you alive and growing.
Mathematics is just the imposition of human cognitive structure on the world-as-it-is. Most mathematicians would disagree with this statement, since most are Platonists.
It's got Electrolytes! It's what plants crave.
They can multiply too.
Right, and we all drive our cars by solving differential equations.
Just because the functions plants (or we when driving) perform are conveniently modeled by maths (as the Brits put it) doesn’t mean plants or drivers on I-70 (or the M-4) are “doing maths”. Sheesh.
Looks more like = sin(x + Pi/2)
They would disagree with it because it is ontologically false. Mathematical systems are all either contradictory or logically incomplete. The world is not logically incomplete. It is also epistemologically false, since there are mathematical systems that do not confirm to, and cannot exist within, in the material universe.
I always said my students were dumber than plants.
It’s the other way around: Mathematical models can describe what plants do (naturally and without conscious effort). Of course that doesn’t make for a catchy headline.
That whole idiot family blamed that on me.
There are times when I really miss that girlfriend, but I always get over it.