No, plants don't do math(s).



  • [url=http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-22991838]http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-22991838[/url]



    This article has annoyed the fuck out of me today. All the papers seem to be covering it, and all of them are just as retarded.



    Basically, the article says that plants regulate their usage of food overnight, according to "some equation" which isn't given.


    Then they make mention of 2 molecules used to do this, which haven't apparently yet been discovered, but which have single letter names.


    All of this, somehow, leads to the conclusion that the plants are "doing math(s)".



    Noone seems to have noticed the difference between a process, and a mathematical description of a process.


    What in the name of fuck has happened to science?



  • "This is the first concrete example in biology of such a sophisticated arithmetic calculation," said mathematical modeller Prof Martin Howard, of the John Innes Centre.

    Er... except... ahem... people.



  • @eViLegion said:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-22991838



    This article has annoyed the fuck out of me today. All the papers seem to be covering it, and all of them are just as retarded.
    Looks suspiciously like an extension of this bollocks which was all over the (UK) media last week.
    The findings suggest that the way we store our food, and even the time of day that we eat it, could profoundly alter how healthy it is for up to a week after it is harvested, researchers claimed.
    (Emphasis mine.)



  • @Some BBC said:

    Plants have a built-in capacity to do maths

    Wow a grammar error in the very first sentence. I guess the BBC's reputation has completely disappeared now.



  • @eViLegion said:

    What in the name of fuck has happened to science?
     




  • I wonder if there's more here than the BBC is letting on. The scientists sound like they've found something interesting, that's beyond a mere regulatory process that could be described with mathematics.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @blakeyrat said:

    @Some BBC said:
    Plants have a built-in capacity to do maths

    Wow a grammar error in the very first sentence. I guess the BBC's reputation has completely disappeared now.

    Are you talking about using "maths" instead of "math?" Because that's one of the weird things Brits do, like putting extra letters in words like color.



  • @FrostCat said:

    @blakeyrat said:
    @Some BBC said:
    Plants have a built-in capacity to do maths

    Wow a grammar error in the very first sentence. I guess the BBC's reputation has completely disappeared now.

    Are you talking about using "maths" instead of "math?" Because that's one of the weird things Brits do, like putting extra letters in words like color.

    Check his tags. Blakey was doing nationalistic trolling. You know, like the Welsh do all day every day by the mere fact of their existence.



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    @FrostCat said:
    @blakeyrat said:
    @Some BBC said:
    Plants have a built-in capacity to do maths

    Wow a grammar error in the very first sentence. I guess the BBC's reputation has completely disappeared now.

    Are you talking about using "maths" instead of "math?" Because that's one of the weird things Brits do, like putting extra letters in words like color.

    Check his tags. Blakey was doing nationalistic trolling. You know, like the Welsh do all day every day by the mere fact of their existence.

    But I still like Welshes Grape Juice.



  • @eViLegion said:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-22991838



    This article has annoyed the fuck out of me today. All the papers seem to be covering it, and all of them are just as retarded.



    Basically, the article says that plants regulate their usage of food overnight, according to "some equation" which isn't given.


    Then they make mention of 2 molecules used to do this, which haven't apparently yet been discovered, but which have single letter names.


    All of this, somehow, leads to the conclusion that the plants are "doing math(s)".



    Noone seems to have noticed the difference between a process, and a mathematical description of a process.


    What in the name of fuck has happened to science?

    Basically, scientists have found a natural (and very basic, single-function) chemical computer. The BBC explained it badly, as always, and you understood worse.



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    Check his tags. Blakey was doing nationalistic trolling.
    No, check again. He was trolling nationalists.



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    Check his tags. Blakey was doing nationalistic trolling. You know, like the Welsh do all day every day by the mere fact of their existence.

    And those fucking Danes.



  • @TDWTF123 said:

    Basically, scientists have found a natural (and very basic, single-function) chemical computer. The BBC explained it badly, as always, and you understood worse.

    But wouldn't many life precesses* be described as simple chemical computers? I mean, wot's* RNA transcription if not a complex sequence of dat-er* precessing*?


    (This post British-ised* to make our limey friends feel more at home.)

    (This part has also been British-ised*.)

    (***Oh buggah..)



  • @blakeyrat said:

    @morbiuswilters said:
    Check his tags. Blakey was doing nationalistic trolling. You know, like the Welsh do all day every day by the mere fact of their existence.

    And those fucking Danes.

    A Dαnϵ ∅nce bit my sister.



  • Ah shit, now it's on one of my favorite blogs. Fuck you plant math article.



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    But wouldn't many life precesses* be described as simple chemical computers?
    Some, not all. Division's a rare one, that I can think of - quite possibly unique to our knowledge, although likely far from unique.



  • @FrostCat said:

    Are you talking about using "maths" instead of "math?" Because that's one of the weird things Brits do, like putting extra letters in words like color.

    To keep you on your toes. You young whipper-snappers have had it too easy for too long.



  • Not only do they do maths, they've got their own Internet.

    I for one etc.



  • @TDWTF123 said:

    Basically, scientists have found a natural (and very basic, single-function) chemical computer.

    In the same way that a rock falling is a natural, single-function physical computer (d = 0.5at^2), yes.

    Or, well, literally everything.



  • @spamcourt said:

    @TDWTF123 said:
    Basically, scientists have found a natural (and very basic, single-function) chemical computer.

    In the same way that a rock falling is a natural, single-function physical computer (d = 0.5at^2), yes.

    Or, well, literally everything.

    Except that gravity isn't a system devised by matter via an evolutionary process (or, shit, maybe it kinda is, but let's not go down that rabbit hole.) The article phrases it stupidly, but if TDWTF123 is right it sounds like discovery of a life process which uses division is unique and interesting.



  • @TDWTF123 said:

    @morbiuswilters said:
    But wouldn't many life precesses* be described as simple chemical computers?
    Some, not all. Division's a rare one, that I can think of - quite possibly unique to our knowledge, although likely far from unique.
    Aw, c'mon; how's division so hard? Even bacteria do things that amount to integration and differentiation in basic chemotaxis and similar processes, and that's not even to mention the kind of computations that neurons do. Unless there's something much deeper that the BBC story left out (entirely possible of course), this seemed like a non-story to me.



  • @spamcourt said:

    In the same way that a rock falling is a natural, single-function physical computer (d = 0.5at^2), yes.
    That's multiplication. Would you like to suggest an analogue for division?

    I'm not entirely sure that is what this is all about, but even if not it seems like an interesting question.



  • @TDWTF123 said:

    @spamcourt said:
    In the same way that a rock falling is a natural, single-function physical computer (d = 0.5at^2), yes.
    That's multiplication. Would you like to suggest an analogue for division?

    I'm not entirely sure that is what this is all about, but even if not it seems like an interesting question.

    Cells divide all the time.



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    The article phrases it stupidly, but if TDWTF123 is right it sounds like discovery of a life process which uses division is unique and interesting.
    I'm largely guessing based on long experience with what the BBC says about stuff like this, and how that correlates to the actual facts. My interpretation was that the uniqueness is in someone working out details of a particular process, or possibly the process itself is unique in our knowledge, which seems less likely.
    @DaveK said:
    Even bacteria do things that amount to integration and differentiation in basic chemotaxis
    In what sense?
    @DaveK said:
    that's not even to mention the kind of computations that neurons do
    Do you know how they do it? You should let everyone know. @DaveK said:
    this seemed like a non-story to me.
    Of course. It's science for public consumption.



  • If I take two small buckets, fill them with water, and then dump them into a single larger bucket, the volume of water in the large bucket equals the sum of the volumes in the smaller buckets. Buckets can do math!



  • @lolwtf said:

    If I take two small buckets, fill them with water, and then dump them into a single larger bucket, the volume of water in the large bucket equals the sum of the volumes in the smaller buckets. Buckets can do math!

    And you don't think human consciousness is the result of simple physical processes? Obviously it's a lot more complex than dumping two buckets into a larger one, but then again, so is the process these plants are using. And the whole "plants do math" headline is just the kind of stupidity I expect from the mainstream media covering science, but that doesn't mean there isn't a mostly-intact kernel of scientific corn somewhere in this BBC shit splatter.



  • @lolwtf said:

    Buckets Bruce Willis can do math!

    FTFY



  • @lolwtf said:

    If I take two small buckets, fill them with water, and then dump them into a single larger bucket, the volume of water in the large bucket equals the sum of the volumes in the smaller buckets. Buckets can do math!

    If I take a shit, the water in the toilet rises proportionally to the size of the shit! Shit can do mathss!s



  • @Ronald said:

    @lolwtf said:
    Buckets Bruce Willis can do math!

    FTFY

    Ahhhh, so that's the movie you jack it to. Well, the first 10 minutes when he wears that racist sign in Harlem.



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    @Ronald said:
    @lolwtf said:
    Buckets Bruce Willis can do math!

    FTFY

    Ahhhh, so that's the movie you jack it to. Well, the first 10 minutes when he wears that racist sign in Harlem.

    If I was a racist, which I'm not, I'd rather watch the first 10 minutes of "Tears of the sun".



  • @TDWTF123 said:

    The BBC explained it badly, as always, and you understood worse.

    It's also explained here:



  • @TDWTF123 said:

    The BBC explained it badly, as always, and you understood worse.

    Don't be silly; I understood it fine. My complaint was about the appalling journalism, and the fact that the researchers themselves had dumbed down their findings so much that they're essentially lying.

    @ochrist said:

    It's also explained here:

    That explains it slightly better. Although, I'm am interested to note that the two molecules responsible for this haven't actually been discovered. So the question is, what the fuck HAS been discovered? This appears to be just a blue-sky theory, with a possible mechanism proposed to fit the available data, but which is pretty fucking far from proven. The theory isn't even complete enough to start trying to prove it.



    Since I'm in the mood to be harsh (as I'm sure there was quite a lot more research that went into this), but it sounds like a couple of undergraduates had a lovely daydream during a biology lecture about starch, wrote down what the imagined, and submitted it to Scientific American.



    Regardless, they're still not doing maths though. They're not even doing arithmetic. It is a homeostatic (I believe, correct me if I'm wrong) process, describable by division. That's it.



  • @PJH said:

    Looks suspiciously like an extension of this bollocks which was all over the (UK) media last week.

    The findings suggest that the way we store our food, and even the time of day that we eat it, could profoundly alter how healthy it is for up to a week after it is harvested, researchers claimed. More reasearch [funding] is needed
    (Emphasis mine.)

    Finished TFY.



  • @Ben L. said:

    @TDWTF123 said:
    @spamcourt said:
    In the same way that a rock falling is a natural, single-function physical computer (d = 0.5at^2), yes.
    That's multiplication. Would you like to suggest an analogue for division?

    I'm not entirely sure that is what this is all about, but even if not it seems like an interesting question.

    Cells divide all the time.

    Not in a mathematical sense. They multiply by fission, rather than it being a process that works out an even division.
    @lolwtf said:
    If I take two small buckets, fill them with water, and then dump them into a single larger bucket, the volume of water in the large bucket equals the sum of the volumes in the smaller buckets. Buckets can do math!
    Of course. But addition is easy. Try division, like I said.



  • Those plants are doing math in the same way a computer is doing math. It's a switching mechanism, just like your brain. Really cool, but I'm not sure it's valid to say that's not doing math, since all math is done that way.

    So. Science reporting amiright guyz?

    Oh, PS, math realness is a topic of discussion and debate.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    And those fucking Danes.
     

    It's not even real Dutch they're speaking. It's gibberish!



  • Eh, you guys are missing an obvious one about "division" in the physical world:

    When you  push on a mass with a force, the acceleration you observe is equal to the force divided by the mass of the object.  The object must be dividing its mass by the force to see what its acceleration should be! EVEN ROCKS CAN DO IT! AMAZING!

    (Now where's my funding for additional research!?)


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @morbiuswilters said:

    @FrostCat said:
    @blakeyrat said:
    @Some BBC said:
    Plants have a built-in capacity to do maths

    Wow a grammar error in the very first sentence. I guess the BBC's reputation has completely disappeared now.

    Are you talking about using "maths" instead of "math?" Because that's one of the weird things Brits do, like putting extra letters in words like color.

    Check his tags. Blakey was doing nationalistic trolling. You know, like the Welsh do all day every day by the mere fact of their existence.

    Please, I always assume trolling here--doesn't everyone? Having said that, checking tags is uncool.

    But since you brought up the Welsh, here's a apposite video.



  • @FrostCat said:

    But since you brought up the Welsh, here's a apposite video.
    @YouTube said:
    This video contains content from Channel 5 and Zodiak Rights,one or more of whom have blocked it in your country on copyright grounds.



  • It's kind of sad that the news headline is so far from reality as it is. Imagine the literality math-plants might have brought to "server farms". 

    Also to "bugs".



  • @eViLegion said:

    Although, I'm am interested to note that the two molecules responsible for this haven't actually been discovered. So the question is, what the fuck HAS been discovered? This appears to be just a blue-sky theory, with a possible mechanism proposed to fit the available data, but which is pretty fucking far from proven. The theory isn't even complete enough to start trying to prove it.

    Hey, it's worked for theoretical physics for the last two decades!

    @eViLegion said:

    Regardless, they're still not doing maths though. They're not even doing arithmetic. It is a homeostatic (I believe, correct me if I'm wrong) process, describable by division. That's it.

    I don't think that's correct, but I'll admit I'm still not entirely sure what's going on here. The plants are doing arithmetic to determine the most effective way to consume energy. I don't see what's so difficult to grasp about that concept.



  • @dhromed said:

    Those plants are doing math in the same way a computer is doing math. It's a switching mechanism, just like your brain. Really cool, but I'm not sure it's valid to say that's not doing math, since all math is done that way.

    Exactly. It's closer to a crude processor than anything (at least from my understanding.) According to the phys.org article, the plants have an internal clock and they "estimate" the time until dawn, so they can make the most effective use of their energy stores. All-in-all, it sounds like a very simple, organic computer.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    http://io9.com/plants-avoid-starvation-at-night-by-doing-basic-math-559791105

    Ah shit, now it's on one of my favorite blogs. Fuck you plant math article.

     

    That last sentence shall forever be my broken signature. May they never speak truer words.

     



  • First, consider that maybe the person writing the article does not understand the science behind it; and thus got it wrong. Or he did understand the science but had to dumb it down to the rest of us.


    But my REAL comment is this: I have a glass of tepid water and two ice cubes. Together, they adjust the temperature to a cooler value. OBVIOUSLY the water and ice cubes are performing some sort of maths to calculate the final temperature of the water.



  • @DrPepper said:

    First, consider that maybe the person writing the article does not understand the science behind it; and thus got it wrong. Or he did understand the science but had to dumb it down to the rest of us.


    But my REAL comment is this: I have a glass of tepid water and two ice cubes. Together, they adjust the temperature to a cooler value. OBVIOUSLY the water and ice cubes are performing some sort of maths to calculate the final temperature of the water.

    Yeah, but the fucking ice cubes don't estimate the time they think it should take to melt, then adjust their melting accordingly based on an internal clock.

    TIL: People who work in one of the most science-based careers in human society are still smug, scientifically-illiterate jackwads who can't be bothered to think about things before they join the dogpile.



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    but the fucking ice cubes don't estimate the time they think it should take to melt


    It doesn't sound to me like the plants are doing so either. There are two chemicals, the ratio of the chemicals determines the rate at which the nutrients are consumed. It does not say anywhere that the plant regulates the ratio of the chemicals. It might be a dumb feedback loop -- if I run out of nutrients before light arrives again, make more of chemical A and less of B; vice-versa, make more of B and less of A.

    That's not math.

    If I have a tub, and a faucet and drain, I can fill the tub with water and by carefully adjusting the faucet open/close, and the drain open/close, I can arrange through trial and error to have the tub transition from full to empty in a given amount of time, without ever having to do math or even any kind of measurements. You can look at that and say "Wow -- he calculated an exact ratio between the openness of the faucet and the openness of the drain" but it's just trial and error over time. It sounds to me like the plant is doing the same thing.



  • I have heard though that ants count the number of steps it takes them to get from their home to a location, and count again the number of steps to get back. From NPR: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7DDF8WZFnoU



  • @TDWTF123 said:

    @DaveK said:
    Even bacteria do things that amount to integration and differentiation in basic chemotaxis
    In what sense?
    Well, for example: bacteria detect and follow a spatial concentration gradient; that's differentiation.
    @TDWTF123 said:
    @DaveK said:
    that's not even to mention the kind of computations that neurons do
    Do you know how they do it? You should let everyone know.
    Huh? The common neuronal behaviour is well understood, in mathematical terms: it's an integral w.r.t. time of a weighted sum of the inputs which gets thresholded in determining whether it fires. Not sure what you're asking about.



  • @DrPepper said:

    It doesn't sound to me like the plants are doing so either. There are two chemicals, the ratio of the chemicals determines the rate at which the nutrients are consumed. It does not say anywhere that the plant regulates the ratio of the chemicals. It might be a dumb feedback loop -- if I run out of nutrients before light arrives again, make more of chemical A and less of B; vice-versa, make more of B and less of A.

    Read the phys.org article. It clearly states the plants are optimizing the usage of energy to maximize growth while still not running out of the chemicals by dawn. They do this by "estimating" the length of day and by using an "internal clock" to tick off time. Now maybe that's complete bullshit and nothing like that is going on, but it at least sounds like a crude type of computation going on.



  • @DaveK said:

    @TDWTF123 said:
    @DaveK said:
    Even bacteria do things that amount to integration and differentiation in basic chemotaxis
    In what sense?
    Well, for example: bacteria detect and follow a spatial concentration gradient; that's differentiation.
    I was asking why that's differentiation, not what chemotaxis is. Isn't it simple comparison/subtraction? I don't know much about it, so if you could explain in more detail it would be helpful.
    @DaveK said:
    The common neuronal behaviour is well understood, in mathematical terms: it's an integral w.r.t. time of a weighted sum of the inputs which gets thresholded in determining whether it fires.
    Fair enough, I misparsed that sentence. For some reason I thought you were talking about how humans do conscious math using neurons.


Log in to reply
 

Looks like your connection to What the Daily WTF? was lost, please wait while we try to reconnect.