Plants. Seeing.

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Plants lack eyes and ears, but they can still see, hear, smell and respond to environmental cues and dangers. They do this with the aid of hundreds of membrane proteins that sense microbes or other stresses. Researchers now have created the first network map for 200 of these proteins. The map shows how a few key proteins act as master nodes critical for network integrity, and the map also reveals unknown interactions. (1)

Regarding light, the proteins PCH1 and PCHL help plants adapt to their surroundings. Plants use the photoreceptor protein phytochrome B to see light and then regulate processes such as seed germination, seedling development, longitudinal growth and flower formation. (2)

We hold our senses to very high esteem.

And we tend to forget that they are just interactions.

Interactions between lifeless particles.

Meaning nothing without a conscious being interpreting them…

Touch the tree. It is not there.

Until you start singing…

Butterflies. Before we had flowers…

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Visiting a colleague in Germany in 2012, Boston College Research Professor Paul K. Strother was examining soil samples for pollen, spores, pieces of plants and insect legs – organic debris that might otherwise have been considered “pond scum” when it was trapped in sediment during cataclysmic earth events 200 million years ago.

The slides of rock samples drilled in the German countryside included some material that looked familiar to Strother, who studies the origin and early evolution of land plants. What he saw were features similar to those found in insect wings.

The only problem was that these types of moths and butterflies (Lepidoptera) were long posited to have evolved 50 to 70 million years later, during the Cretaceous period when the first flowering plants emerged as their prime food source.

“The consensus has been that insects followed flowers”, said Strother, a co-author of “A Triassic-Jurassic window into the evolution of Lepidoptera”, a new report published in Science Advances. “But that would be 50 million years later than what the wings were saying. It was odd to say the least, that there would be butterflies before there were flowers”. (1)

Seek beauty.

In a void and cold cosmos.

It is here.

Even before the world becomes beautiful…

We are all gods.

Because we used to.

And – mainly – because we will be again…

Smell that flower.

It is not here.

But it will be.

Plants “deciding”. Death and Life.

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Animals facing competition have been shown to optimally choose between different behaviors, including confrontation, avoidance and tolerance, depending on the competitive ability of their opponents relative to their own. For example, if their competitors are bigger or stronger, animals are expected to “give up the fight” and choose avoidance or tolerance over confrontation.

Similar responses are documented for plant as well. Plants can detect the presence of other competing plants through various cues, such as the reduction in light quantity or in the ratio of red to far-red wavelengths (R:FR), which occurs when light is filtered through leaves. Such competition cues are known to induce two types of responses: confrontational vertical elongation, by which plants try to outgrow and shade their neighbors, and shade tolerance, which promotes performance under limited light conditions. Some plants, such as clonal plants, can exhibit avoidance behavior as a third response type: they grow away from their neighbors.

To learn if plants can choose between these responses and match them to the relative size and density of their opponents, researchers used the clonal plant Potentilla reptans in an experimental setup that simulated different light-competition settings. They used vertical stripes of transparent green filters that reduce both light quantity and R:FR and could therefore provide a realistic simulation of light competition.

The results demonstrated that Potentilla reptans can indeed choose its response to competition in an optimal way. (1)

We have named simple interactions “decisions”.

And yet, a decision is not to do what you are programmed to do. A decision is not to just obey to your genes or your… chemistry. True decisions are those made against all genetics or environmental input. True decisions are those made against the result of “laws” or rules.

Imagine a cold universe.

Full of plants. Full of interactions.

A universe dark and empty.

A lifeless universe.

True decisions are the rare moments when rules are rendered unimportant due to the sheer will to decide. True decisions are those made independently of the “interactions”. When you decide to die for what you believe, even though everything and everyone tells you the opposite. When you decide to love someone, even though everything in your brain tells you this is crazy.

Imagine a cold universe.

Full of plants. Full of interactions.

A universe dark and empty.

This universe will never be alive.

Until a person decides to die in it…

Neurons, plants and the mystery of patterns…

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Plants and brains are more alike than you might think. Salk scientists discovered that the mathematical rules governing how plants grow are similar to how brain cells sprout connections. In particular, plants use the same rules to grow under widely different conditions (for example, cloudy versus sunny) and the density of branches in space follows a Gaussian (‘bell curve’) distribution – which is also true of neuronal branches in the brain. The work, published in Current Biology on July 6, 2017, and based on data from 3D laser scanning of plants, suggests there may be universal rules of logic governing branching growth across many biological systems. (1)

Everything is similar to everything. Analogous structures are repeated over and over again in multiple dimensions and in various realms of reality. The existence of universal patterns is something known for a long time now. But we are still unable to grasp the implications of such a discovery. Does it signify that the whole reality we experience is just an illusion? That everything is essentially the same One thing which manifests itself into various forms? Or does it simply signify the existence of a kind of field which affects everything? Could it just be a coincidence or a result of our prejudiced perception? Could we just be looking at what we expect to see in a massive “we shape reality” illusion?

I confess that I am unable to reach to a solid conclusion.

Although my subconscious does hint towards a specific solution.

All great mysteries somehow shout their solution.

But you must stay still in order to listen.

See the colours of the butterflies. The shapes of mountains and the coastlines of your favorite island. Watch the sounds of crickets and stare the planets move in the silent sky. Take a hold of a shell. Smell a rose. Think and let your neurons fire, while watching the light coming out of distant stars.

There is something which pertains everything…

There is evident harmony in the cosmos.

There is music in the silence.

Watch out that bee!

There is magic in the cosmos.

Everything different and yet the same.

Because everything is the same and yet so different.

Watch that snake eating its tale. It is you. It is the cosmos. It is the island and the bee. It is the butterflies and the roses. It is the cricket on the tree…

Plants are clever and conscious. Universe is… the same. [Dissipated consciousness]

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Plants are intelligent. Plants deserve rights. Plants are like the Internet – or more accurately the Internet is like plants. To most of us these statements may sound, at best, insupportable or, at worst, crazy. But a new book, Brilliant Green: the Surprising History and Science of Plant Intelligence, by plant neurobiologist (yes, plant neurobiologist), Stefano Mancuso and journalist, Alessandra Viola, makes a compelling and fascinating case not only for plant sentience and smarts, but also plant rights.

Charles Darwin was one of the first scientists to break from the crowd and recognize that plants move and respond to sensation – i.e., are sentient. Moreover, Darwin – who studied plants meticulously for most of his life, observed that the radicle – the root tip – “acts like the brain of one of the lower animals”.

Plants face many of the same problems as animals, though they differ significantly in their approach. Plants have to find energy, reproduce and stave off predators. To do these things, Mancuso argues, plants have developed smarts and sentience.

Plants are able to grow through shady areas to locate light and many even turn their leaves during the day to capture the best light. Other plants are preying on animals.

Plants harness animals in order to reproduce. Many plant use complex trickery or provide snacks and advertisements (colours) to lure in pollinators, communicating either through direct deception or rewards. New research finds that some plants even distinguish between different pollinators and only germinate their pollen for the best.

Plants have evolved an incredible variety of toxic compounds to ward off predators. When attacked by an insect, many plants release a specific chemical compound. But they don’t just throw out compounds, but often release the precious chemical only in the leaf that’s under attack.

Plants are also complex communicators. Today, scientists know that plants communicate in a wide variety of ways. The most well known of these is chemical volatiles.

Plants’ roots do not flounder randomly but search for the best position to take in water, avoid competition and garner chemicals. In some cases, roots will alter course before they hit an obstacle, showing that plants are capable of “seeing” an obstacle through their many senses. (Humans have five basic senses. But scientists have discovered that plants have at least 20 different senses used to monitor complex conditions in their environment, such as measure humidity, detect gravity and sense electromagnetic fields) Mancuso and colleagues recorded the same signals given off from this part of the plant as those from neurons in the animal brain. One root apex may not be able to do much. But instead of having just one root, most plants have millions of individual roots, each with a single radicle.

Instead of a single powerful brain, Mancuso argues that plants have a million tiny computing structures that work together in a complex network, which he compares to the Internet. The strength of this evolutionary choice is that it allows a plant to survive even after losing 90% or more of its biomass. Having a single brain – just like having a single heart or a pair of lungs – would make plants much easier to kill. (1)

In another story, Plants, scientists say, transmit information about light intensity and quality from leaf to leaf in a very similar way to our own nervous systems. These “electro-chemical signals” are carried by cells that act as “nerves” of the plants. In their experiment, the scientists showed that light shone on to one leaf caused the whole plant to respond. And the response, which took the form of light-induced chemical reactions in the leaves, continued in the dark. This showed, they said, that the plant “remembered” the information encoded in light. (2)

In two words:

The less the brain is concentrated…

…the more consciousness is dissipated.

Imagine a universe with no brain.

A universe full of consciousness…

A universe full of nothing.

A universe full of everything.

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