Life and Emotion in Plants and Metal

Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose (1858 – 1937) was India’s great physicist, botanist, inventor of the crescograph and author of science fiction books.  As a physicist he was a pioneer being the first to use semi-conductors to detect radio signals and was the official inventor of wireless telecommunications in 1895 however did not patent his inventions.  Bose was the first one to invent a wireless coherer and an instrument for indicating the refraction of electric waves.  His Eastern education did not allow him to understand his fellow European physicists’ fascination with patents and protection of knowledge.  At heart he was in biophysics, a botanist, and his crescograph, and later with his resonant cardiograph, he was able to detect and measure life in plants and metals and how they reacted to various stimuli.

Here are some excerpts from Sir Bose’s inaugural speech at the opening of the Bose Institute in Kolkota, in 1917.

“….. In the pursuit of my investigations I was unconsciously led into the border region of physics and physiology.  To my amazement, I found boundary lines vanishing, and points of contact emerging, between the realms of the living and the non-living.  Inorganic matter was perceived as anything but inert; it was athrill under the action of multitudinous forces.

“A universal reaction seemed to bring metal, plant and animal under a common law.  They all exhibited essentially the same phenomena of fatigue and depression, with possibilities of recovery and of exaltation, as well as the permanent irresponsiveness associated with death.

“The work already carried out at the Bose laboratory on the response of matter, and the unexpected revelations in plant life, have opened out very extended regions of inquiry in physics, in physiology, in medicine, in agriculture, and even in psychology.  Problems hitherto regarded as insoluble have now been brought within the sphere of experimental investigation.”

When attaching the crescograph to a fern, for example, the magnification is tremendous - ten million magnifications. If a snail’s crawl were enlarged in the same proportion, the creature would appear to be traveling like an express train.  Through the crescograph the growth and minute movement of the fern is witnessed clearly.  If a small metal tool is placed to touch the tip of the fern all the movement in the plant is clearly seen to halt, only resuming the eloquent rhythms as soon as the rod is withdrawn.  Any slight interference is detrimental and observable to the sensitive tissues. 

Bose then would add chloroform and the effect discontinued all growth in the plants.  Only after an antidote was administered would the fern be revived.  The crescograph measured all electrical changes in the plant.  When a sharp instrument is thrust through a plant; pain was indicated by spasmodic flutters both visually and electrically.  When a razor is pressed partially through the stem, the plant can be seen to be violently agitated, stilling itself as the razor completes the cut for death.

Bose was using chloroform on huge trees to transplant them into new ground.  Many large forest trees die very quickly after being moved however Bose proved that with chloroform and an antidote the trees would survive the move.  Boses apparatus proved that trees possess a circulatory system; their sap movements correspond to the blood pressure of animal bodies.  Peristaltic waves issue from a cylindrical tube which extends down a tree and serves as an actual heart!  The more deeply we perceive, the more striking becomes the evidence that a uniform plan links every form in nature.

Bose’s experiments extended to metal.  Tin was attached to the apparatus from which a graph would record the characteristic waves of atomic structure.  When chloroform was administered to tin, the vibratory writings stop.  They do recommence slowly as the metal regains its normal state.  If a poisonous chemical is dispensed to the living tin, simultaneously the quivering readouts dropped completely in time with the tin being brought to death - the charts ceased showing any electrical life.

The Bose instruments have demonstrated that metals, such as the steel used in scissors and machinery, are subject to fatigue, and regain efficiency by periodic rest.  Bose’s experiments showed that the life-pulse in metals is seriously harmed or even extinguished through the application of electric currents or heavy pressure.

With his resonant cardiograph Bose was able to delve deeper into the infinitesimal pulsations in plant, animal and human structure.  The cardiograph had an unerring accuracy of one-hundredth part of a second being indicated on the graph. The great physicist and botanist predicted that the use of his cardiograph would lead to the vivisection on plants instead of animals.

“Side by side recordings of the effects of a medicine given simultaneously to a plant and an animal have shown astounding unanimity in results.  Everything in man has been foreshadowed in the plant.  Experimentation on vegetation will contribute to lessening of human suffering.” 

In 1938 Columbia University reported in the New York Times the following:

“….It has been reported within the past few years that when the nerves transmit messages between the brain and other parts of the body, tiny electrical impulses are being generated….…..Drs K.S.Cole and H.J.Curtis reported having discovered that the long single cells of the fresh-water plant nitella, used frequently in goldfish bowls, are virtually identical with those of single nerve fibers.  Furthermore, they found that nitella fibers, on being excited, propagate electrical waves that are similar in every way, except velocity, to those of the nerve fibers in animals and man…..”

Bose believed that his Cambridge education together with the introspection of his Eastern heritage had enabled him to “sunder the silences of natural realms long uncommunicative.  The telltale charts of my crescograph are evidence for the most skeptical that plants have a sensitive nervous system and a varied emotional life.  Love, hate, joy, fear, pleasure, pain, excitability, stupor, and countless appropriate responses to stimuli are as universal in plants as in animals.  The unique throb of life in all creation could seem only poetic imagery ……. A saint I once knew would never pluck flowers. “Shall I rob the rosebush of its pride in beauty? Shall I cruelly affront its dignity by my rude divestment?” “

In more recent years equipment similar to the crescograph have been used in plants to measure their reactions in some of the following ways, for example:

-          Responses are recorded when a plant has one of its leafs burnt.  A second plant is placed next to the original plant, the second plant has one of its leafs burnt.  The recordings taken from the original plant, while the second plant leaf is burnt, are identical to those taken when the first plant was burnt.  Essentially the original plant is sympathizing with the second plant as it is burnt.  There is an awareness.  Plants do not have eyes which is generally perceived as the core to perception yet they perceive the pain from other life forms.

-          Another researcher had a pot of water boiling on a stove and some live shrimps in one room.  In the next room a plant was hooked up to an instrument to record his electrical reactions.  At the exact time as a live shrimp was placed into the boiling water and died the plant in the next rooms recordings showed distress in the plant.  Again, compassion is felt and measured by the plant from the death of another life form.

The results of these and other similar experiments which prove that compassion and emotions are detectable and measurable in plants and even metals overload our mind with the wonders of our beautiful complicated full and magnificent world.  This is not new information; these experiments were conducted in the 1890’s and published in a 1902 book.  The “green finger” phenomenon is well known to us, but it doesn’t stop there….. these hundred year old findings reflect what our ancestors and ancient societies have always told us.  We must live in harmony with our nature. Nature speaks to us.  All the love which we give it will return to us in a bounty of beauty and plentiful crops, this is just the tip of the iceberg………..

The film Avatar is less sci-fi and more real than you may have originally thought…..