The greens you grow in the garden could show Russel Norman a thing or two about maths

The Greens should take a lesson from the greenery they are committed to protect.

According to the headline on a report here

Scientists find proof plants are capable of complex arithmetic

This, quite obviously, makes the plants smarter than the Greens.

The report beneath the headline explains that in order to keep themselves going in the absence of sunlight, plants perform division equations throughout the night to ration their stores of starch until the moment the sun reappears.

By counting their starch and dividing it by the number of hours left until morning they ensure they do not run out until the crack of dawn, and can even adjust their calculations during the night.

If Green Party co-leader Russel Norman could do this, it is reasonable to suppose he would never have come up with that money printing idea.

But let’s read on.

The discovery is the first known example in nature of sophisticated arithmetic being carried out at a fundamental level, as opposed to in the brain cells of animals like humans, scientists said.

It plays a crucial role in plants’ survival because they are dependent on starch, which is produced from carbon dioxide and sunlight during the day, to provide energy during the night.

If they were to find themselves without starch during the hours of darkness they would quickly begin to starve, would stop growing and take several hours to recover even after light returned.

A metabolic biologist now comes into the story to explain things in a way that even Russel Norman shouild be able to comprehend.

“The capacity to perform arithmetic calculation is vital for plant growth and productivity,” Prof Alison Smith, a metabolic biologist who helped make the discovery, explained.

“The calculations are precise so that plants prevent starvation but also make the most efficient use of their food. If the starch store is used too fast, plants will starve and stop growing during the night. If the store is used too slowly, some of it will be wasted.”

Alf has a huge hunger to learn more about this sort of thing and was fascinated to learn scientists already knew that plants have a mechanism which ensures their starch is not used up until the end of the night.

But until now they had no idea how they managed it.

Researchers from the John Innes Centre in Norwich discovered the hidden ability after studying Arabidopsis, a small flowering plant in the mustard family.

They found that the plants used their starch at a steady rate throughout the night, so that about 95 per cent of their stock had been used up by dawn each day.

When researchers changed light conditions to make night arrive unexpectedly early or late, the plants adapted by slowing or increasing their rate of starch usage to ensure their reserves lasted until dawn.

This indicated that they had made a new calculation based on their internal clock which knows the amount of time left until morning, Prof Smith explained.

When the plants’ light exposure was shortened so that they had a smaller batch of starch to begin with, they consumed it more slowly, demonstrating that the equation could also change based on the size of their reserves.

The scientists even attempted to trick the plants by introducing windows of sunlight during the night but each time they were able to adjust their starch use accordingly, demonstrating that the balance was being continuously computed throughout he night.

Ha. You can’t trick the plants.

But as is all too apparent, someone with a silly idea can trick Russel Norman into thinking the creation of lots of money would be a good thing to do.

Yeah, he has backed off.

He probably consulted a lettuce leaf before seeing the light.

One Response to The greens you grow in the garden could show Russel Norman a thing or two about maths

  1. robertguyton says:

    Yes, Alf. I hear Bill English gets his financial advice from a swede.

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