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Archive for the ‘nature’ Category

There is so much common between plants and humans we might think we move about in parallel worlds. We exhale carbon dioxide and they return oxygen to us. How they manage the world in essentials has a parallel narrative in us. We draw our sustenance from the soil which the plant also does; we conserve so do plants an example of which are those autumnal livery they wear. We thrive in our ability create support in times of necessity and establish contacts with others in terms of what they can add to us in terms of security and exchange ideas; the plants also form such preferential  association with animals as well as  other plants.

We are biased towards visual and auditory signals than chemical imaging we fail to appreciate the plant life in its working. The plants communicate with one another. Take spotted knapweed for instance. Its roots secrete a chemical called catechin that can kill other plants. This triggers them to produce free radicals which sweeps from roots upwards causing cell death. In another case when lima bean pants are attacked by spider mites they call out with distress signals that bring on carnivorous mites to eat up the spider mites. The lima plants in the neighborhood also receive the signal to do the same thing.

Our preferences for persons do not fall within what we would call rational behavior. Love at first sight? (Even before a woman has spoken a word man gets chemical messages: phermeron compounds set off to create signals in the brain.) VNO is located in the lower part of your nose much lower than olfactory cells and are tuned to receive such signals. What does the message say?’ I feel excited!’ Naturally you fall in love. Whereas plants do not err in this they send messages which are lures so they can procreate. Along with blossom colors and shapes, scents attract the bees, wasps flies,butterflies, beetles,moths birds,bats-even mice and lizards if necessary, so 90% of the flowering plants to reproduce. Pollinators are welcome. For every dollar a Quebec apple farmer invests in honey bees to service an orchard crop value goes up by (by 2004 conversion rates) $185. North Dakota sunflower farmers get more and better seeds. From fruits to nuts a big chunk of our diet relies on the interactions between pollinators and flowers.

(ack:Joel Achenbach.NGC-Feb,’o4)

benny

 

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Take the case of two patients. Both are stung by bees. One develops severe allergic reaction and the other develops no aftereffects other than the pain that accompanies of being stung. It does not happen by random but because one has an immune system to be impervious to the bees. Similarly we see in two plants of the same species. One is attacked by insects, one not. On an individual plant, some leaves get eaten, some not. This doesn’t happen at random, but is caused by the fungi that live within the leaves and roots of the plant.

Survival strategy of different species shows how the wellbeing of one is dependent on many factors severally spread about and not in the concerned species itself. Thus it makes sense whatever fine-tuning species do to maximize their own Natural selection.

Plants being stationary being rooted to the soil must rely on the soil itself and not in themselves to fight depredation. It is in these area fungi serve as their bodyguard.

Every plant has fungi and bacteria that live on its surface (called epiphytes) and within its tissues (called endophytes).

If the stem is still attached to its roots then the number of species would easily double. The roots contain lots of endophytes and a separate group of fungi, called mycorrhizas. These fungi grow into plant roots and form a symbiotic relationship in which the fungus donates nutrients (principally phosphate and nitrate) to the plant, in return for a supply of carbon.

So both endophytes and mycorrhizas can be thought of as plant bodyguards, where both partners benefit from the association. The fungi gain refuge and resources, while the plant gains a natural pest protection system. The challenge is to exploit this natural system in agriculture and horticulture. However, these sorts of fungi are rare in crop plants thanks to years of fungicides, fertilisers and plant breeding, and modern crops have far fewer natural fungal partners than their counterparts in the wild.

We need consider ‘ecological specificity’ in nature operates. Under which plants seem to select the fungi that will provide them with maximum benefit. If we’re to use this in agriculture, the challenge is to find the “right” combinations of fungi that will provide crops with protection against pests and diseases. For example, there is a separate group of fungi, called entomopathogens, that kill insects. These fungi can also live within plant tissues, meaning that if an insect eats an infected leaf, it ingests a killer fungus.

 

The fungal internet

The chemicals produced by all of these fungi travel throughout the plant. Some fungi in the root can change the host plant’s chemistry to keep marauding insects largely at bay, which may well be one reason why cultivating a rich soil full of useful microbes can lead to reduced pest problems above ground.

Other mycorrhiza (root) fungi can change the chemical makeup of a plant’s leaves, and we have found that these chemicals can attract parasitoid insects to give another level of defence – they can reduce insect growth by making leaves less edible, while simultaneously helping the plant to call parasitic insects that attack the herbivores.

Perhaps even more exciting is how fungi network and link many plants together. The mushrooms you see above ground are simply the fruiting bodies of a larger organism below the surface, composed of thread-like material called mycelium.

Each mycelial thread (a hypha) has a structure like a drain pipe. When plants are attacked by insects, they produce alarm chemicals that are transported to neighbouring plants through this pipe network. Unattacked plants respond to these alarm signals by producing chemicals to ward off an impending attack.

This may be why “no-dig” gardening is thought by many to produce healthier crops than commercial agriculture, where this “fungal network” is continuously disrupted by ploughing.

Plants and fungi do not exist in isolation, but instead form a cooperative in the war against insect pests. Even better is that the fungi are perfectly edible – if you had a salad recently, you’ll have plenty of endophytes within your stomach right now.

(Ack: How Plants Rely on Fungal Bodyguards- The Conversation of Jan. 28, 2016-Alan Gange/Professor of Microbiology, Royal Holloway)

Benny

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Owls are nocturnal birds for their far vision, particularly in low light, is exceptionally good. So it makes sense if they hunt by night. Nature has fitted them out to make best use of what in their anatomy has given an edge over many other species. Logic is in their finding what suited their purpose best.  If the birds make meal of rodents and what could be carriers of plagues they do create a certain balance it its environment. Their service is however lost on them. Logic did not prepare them see it as such.

Let me cite a feature of Nature: nature doesn’t put all eggs in one basket.

Nature therefore works with multiple agencies, of which we can only assume carries a purpose. It must endow some good to some species that may enlarge upon opportunities that blow in their way. We say some cosmic impacted on the earth 65 million years ago wiped out dinosaurs. It allowed mammals that were precariously holding on to take the centre stage. We are recipients of an opportunity arising from such a disaster. We are not far from wrong if we say we fulfill a purpose to which we are equipped. But if we cause massive scale of extinctions thereby logic on which we relied on is neither here nor there.

We failed because our foresight and hindsight are not perfectly matched. We imagined certain results beforehand but on hindsight we are at a loss to explain where we went wrong. Logic did not create this split but be that as it may, we have ushered in an age called anthropocene.

Logic did  not prepare us for such a conclusion as sequences of steps in mathematics move with inexorable logic to its conclusion. We may therefore say imagination is logic plus .

In the analogy of owl we saw how the species render some palpable service to other species on which they have neither knowledge nor control over. Yet they serve Nature partly because in pursuing their own place under the sun they are spreading Nature’s goodness intuitively. But man with rational mind and as with the plasticity inherent in the brain has the faculty of imagination.

What is imagination? Imagination is  to think as Nature does think.

Nature thinks with 360 degree vision. Man who thinks about his own conveniences and works in order to achieve is like an owl that follows logic for a purpose. Propagation, procreation and pleasure are all Nature’s way for equipping each life to fulfill its basic expectations.

God has no need for imagination since he is omnipotent and omniscient. Consequently I see Nature as manifestation of divine Wisdom and Power.     In thinking like Nature man exercises imagination but it is imperfect. Thus for me as a Christian, merely fulfilling my own selfish needs need break its hold and think beyond logic to its ultimate conclusion. Imagination must allow me to see past Nature of this visible universe, the very nature of God his providence and ultimate goodness.

Benny

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Only recently President Assad admitted his predicament. He is winning a war that he cannot hold because of severe shortage. The Syrian leader must have realized what mass exodus of his people in order to avoid conflict could do to a vast country like his. He also said the army faced a shortage of soldiers. Naturally. This just shows no country can survive if there are no people to make it work. Assad may sit like Robinson Crusoe considering himself as a monarch of all that he surveys. But without a subject he must be a monarch who must foul all over the palace and clear up the mess himself. What pomp! What circumstance! Having said this we shall see nature itself shows the truth is not in the glory of any one or his clan or tribe. These are all sustained by the most meanest article one would not have given a second thought.

Look at the snowflake, it shall not form without a speck of grit or dirt to work its magic on. Similarly our clouds.

Firstly consider planktons. They are like you and me just nobodies managing their role in the marine foodchain, at the bottom Nevertheless most life in the sea ultimately depends on photosynthetic plankton. Also known as microalgae, these tiny or microscopic organisms live near the surface and take their energy from the sun and pass it on through the marine food chain.

Clouds are made up of many tiny droplets of water that have condensed from water vapour onto microscopic particles floating in the Earth’s atmosphere. These particles are known as cloud condensation nuclei. Plankton essentially help provide clouds with these nuclei to form around.

The number of these particles in a given volume helps to determine the number of droplets in a cloud, which can have a big influence on how much sunlight a cloud reflects back into space. The more droplets a given mass of cloud water is broken up into, the more sunlight is reflected, as the overall surface area of the cloud’s droplets increases. Since a significant portion of the planet’s reflectivity, or albeido, is due to clouds, this can have a major impact on the energy balance of the Earth.

But these plankton have a big role to play above the surface of the sea too. In new study published in the journal Science Advances it is found that plankton help to control clouds over remote seas far from land. These clouds in turn bounce the sun’s energy back into space, regulating the Earth’s climate and keeping temperatures cooler than they would otherwise be without them.( (The Conversation-How plankton help control clouds over the world’s most remote oceans/July 21,2015-Daniel Grosvenor)

When we see how many societies are rewriting natural and divine laws we know such societies make capitalism continue as before. When they fatten certain sections on the grounds these are on the assumption that the hands that create national wealth have also ingenuity and daringness. How real are they? Their risk taking is simiar to a free booter who is licensed by the ruling class to slash and burn rain forests or drill remote places and siphon off precious natural resources. The governments would not want to know the truth and pretend it is all for the nation’s economy. In nature there is no such big or little but each part is connected to something else. In such a complex sysem nations that let some perpetuate tyranny over the rest in their license to exploit what is for all shoud be considered as evil.

The concept of nations based on geographical borders is an illusion so is determining value of any in terms of size. People count.

benny

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The sperm of all 18-year-olds should be frozen for use in later life because of the risks attached with being an older father, Dr Kevin Smith, from Abertay University in Dundee, says. He also adds, ‘ sperm-banking on the NHS should “become the norm”. He is a bioethicist.

Sperm becomes more prone to errors with age, increasing the risk of autism, schizophrenia and other disorders. The British Fertility Society also agrees since such a move would “provide a very artificial approach to procreation”.

Progress of men has made acquisition of things a priority than in number of progeny. There is nothing of a gene push since we have become self indulgent and children of impulses and self gratification. There is no such thing as an Alexander the Great having his four generals to carry on with his grand Hellenism, an idea that changed the course of the world. What can you expect from Tom, Dick and Harry whose only aim in life is Instant gratification?

Men are having children later – the average age of fatherhood in England and Wales has increased from 31 in the early 1990s to 33 now. This must send alarm bells ringing. We are on the edge of a live crater and the volcano may snuff out human race like so many mass extinctions in the past.

Since the last great mass extinction of the dinosaurs 66 million years ago, life on Earth is entering the greatest mass extinction according to a major new study – and humans may be among the casualties. What does that entail? It would leave a huge hole in the world’s ecosystems,- and lemurs, aye-aye, jumping rats on the island of Madagascar are on the precipice of extinction, and so many others. There have been five major mass extinctions in Earth’s history. Scientists predict a Sixth. If we were to compare the time frame of the other five it would not be outside the realm of probability.

So let’s be pessimistic, and assume the apocalypse is going to happen. What does Earth look like afterwards?

The greatest crisis in history

The Permian-Triassic boundary (251m years ago) saw the greatest crisis in Earth’s history, when at least 90% of the species including insects suffered huge losses – the only mass extinction in their long history.

This was attributed to the effects of huge volcanic outpourings of lava and associated greenhouse gases, in what is now northern Russia. This lead to global warming, ocean acidification and acid rain, marine oxygen depletion and poisoning by toxic metals such as mercury. Imagine today’s gloomiest climate predictions, but cranked up a few notches.

The few species that survived gave rise to all life thereafter and there has not been such a profound restructuring of ecosystems since, perhaps because this “survival of the fittest” rendered their descendants more tolerant to global change.

What chance man has since he never branched off into so many sub species or genera?

Man even when the volcano goes out into showers shall have a selfie to make . Only trouble is he may have none to share it with.(ack: The Conversation- How life on Earth recovers after a devastating mass extinction by David Bond-univ. of Hull/ 24 June, 2015; )

Even on the mouth of  an angry volcano my advice for man would be, ‘keep your cool man. Plenty of time to go up in smoke.’

benny

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