Planted in Fascination

When I was younger, around the age of five, my father told me not to peel or scratch the bark off a tree. He said they can feel, a bit like humans, and it would hurt them, just as it would hurt us if someone tried to peel our skin off! OUCH!

Anyway, nearly eight years on and this advice and information has stuck with me for as long as I can remember, so I suppose it was a familiar come back when I stumbled across a fascinating article in the New Scientist magazine. The article was about how plants and trees touch, hear, taste, smell and see. 

Today, many trees are being cut down, to build roads e.t.c. Plants aren’t really a big deal anymore, gardening shows are being replaced by talent contests. So is it really a big surprise when a group of scientists find out how trees and plants can use their senses? Probably not. 

In mythological stories e.g. lord of the rings, trees were thought of as humans and treated with just the same amount of respect. But that’s all changed now, trees obviously can’t be seen as humans…or can they?! 

Did you know that plants SEE light? They have photoreceptors in their stems and leaves, sort of like how we have them in their eyes. Plants can also see and know where the direction of light is coming from; it’s as if they are hungry for it. 

And if you thought that was clever wait until 
you hear about the Venus Fly Trap! The Venus Fly Trap is known for the way it senses a fly coming towards it and magically traps it in it powerful leaves. But how exactly does it do this? Well, when a fly comes towards the plant it sends a current which radiates throughout its leaves, it then activates the ion channels in the cell membrane and snaps shut! This all takes place in less than a tenth of a second. 

So it is now beginning to become clearer on how trees and plants use their five senses. These magnificent creations play a very important role in the universe and I suppose it’s safe to say they are not a graffiti wall, but are extraordinary in their purpose and should be well honoured.

Higgs Boson Explanation

What is the Higgs Boson? 
The Higgs Boson is a type of particle (referred to as the “God Particle” in an atom) which is part of what’s called ‘The Standard Model’ particle. It was founded by scientists at CERN and they are 99.9% sure that the Higgs Boson really exists. Dr Andreas Krassnigg, a physicist with the University of Graz in Austria elaborates:

“Picture the Standard Model as a car. Then you could imagine the Higgs boson to be, or provide, the wheels of that car”.

“For our car this is a question of central importance, since it determines what the car can do and how. While not having wheels would not have been a bad thing automatically – there are other fancier ways to move a car around, it has now turned out that the wheels seem to be there and that this is the way the car moves.”

So the Higgs Boson particle gives the other sub-atomic particles such as protons, neutrons, electrons, etc their mass and other qualities.

How was it discovered? 

The Higgs boson was discovered by Peter Higgs (and whom it was named after) and the CERN. But how they really discovered it was from a machine called ‘The Large Hadron Collider’ and it is an instrument that smashed atoms together.
 Why is it important and what changes will it make?
The Higgs Boson Provides a kind of insight into how the Universe works. And it’s possible to say that new types of technology fields will open due to the discovery of the Higgs Boson.
Another world wide benefit, says Dr Simon George, who is involved in the ATLAS experiment using the Large Hadron Collider is that young people will be inspired: “The highly trained PhDs who get snapped up by the private sector, and enthused children who will become our scientists in the future”

But Higgs himself said he doesn’t know what the implications are for the discovery!