Plants as network medium?

Miguel Cruz mnc at diana.law.yale.edu
Sun Aug 30 12:25:35 EST 1998


On Fri, 28 Aug 1998 12:27:37 -0700, "Michael J. Fair"
<michael at technocage.com> wrote:
> Would it be possible to use plants as the transmission medium for
> networks?
>
> The quesion stemmed from the assumption that the Earth already has a built
> in global communications network and all we need to do is start using it.
>
> I know plants are emitting a signal, so in a sense they are "talking."
> What they are saying is entirely up for interpretation but the important
> point is they are sending out some sort of signal.  This signal operates
> at appx. 4Hz from what I understand, which when asking some friends about
> it has a wavelength that could probably reach around the globe.

A 4Hz signal could certainly reach long distances. However, it makes for
incredibly low bandwidth. A long email message could take the better part of
a day. And this is assuming you're the only person with their dandelions set
to that particular frequency range.

Assuming plants do communicate, I think they have less need for
high-capacity data exchange than today's wired human. Therefore it's not
likely they would have evolved mechanisms optimized for what you're after.

Furthermore, you'd need a lot of power to go from Canada to Kandy, probably
more than your average petunia would prefer. And why wouldn't you just use a
regular antenna? And a higher frequency? And commercially-available wireless
networking hardware? And existing, cheap global infrastructure? Wait! I
think you're on to something here.

miguel

P.S. Was "stemmed" a pun?



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