Wednesday 3 July 2013

The SMARTS Notebook

I have a new project, a book to be released in 2014 with the title SMARTS.

Please visit this blog for a new series of posts titled The SMARTS Notebook.

On Plants

September 23, 2013.

This week, Maclean's Magazine, Canada's national newsmagazine, is publishing my story on the revolution going in our understanding of what thinking is, and who does it. The story is called Plants. It is set at a Plant Signaling and Behavior Society conference that took place in Vancouver, B.C. this summer and introduces some of the people who lead this work, what their ideas are, and how they got to them. And yes, plants do think, do respond, to converse with kin and neighbours. The unfolding science is wonderful, but the feisty characters who dare to do this work are more interesting still.

Their stories will form one small segment of my new book, Smarts,

Doing this project has been forcing me to rethink everything I thought I knew about who thinks and what that means.One of the more interesting insights gained from a year of jumping on and off planes in North America, South America and Europe to do the research is that revolutions in ideas mainly happen on the margins, not so much in the brand name schools where big grants can be found.  So it takes grit to work on the edge.  As Susan Murch, a plant scientist at University of British Columbia puts it, "I tell my students they have to be brave."  Or, as Frantisek Baluska of University of Bonn described his experience, " you have to wait for the old generation to die."

Check out Maclean's on September 23, and stay tuned for more.

1 comment:

  1. Have you ever come across "The Secret Life of Plants" from Tomkins/Bird, 1970s..[there was a follow up book "Secrets of the Soil"] which should be in the hands of all youngsters as much as George Orwell's "1984" .. keep up the great work Elaine.. I have a lot of respect for your work and your sensibilities... Cheers from NB Canada.