Plants as network medium?

Dave Platt dplatt at
Tue Sep 1 17:05:28 EST 1998

Miguel Cruz wrote:

> That gives me another idea. It is also a well-known fact that failure to
> pick up an umbrella in the morning can cause major atmospheric stress,
> sometimes hundreds of miles away, leading to precipitation which would
> otherwise not have occurred.
> I have surrounded my umbrella with antennae and scopes and have yet to
> detect up any radiation emanating from it when I do not pick it up.
> Therefore I must conclude that the signal is so faint that my expensive
> equipment is simply not sensitive enough. And yet this signal is able to
> travel miles, through building materials, trees, and clouds, to reach the
> appropriate aerial receptors.

You will not be able to detect the signal, no matter how sensitive
your antennae and scopes.  It simply isn't an electromagnetic impulse,
and your detectors are entirely insensitive to it.

It is, rather, a quantum-mechanical effect.  Your umbrella is part of
a quantum-mechanical pairing with portions of the atmosphere at a
distance - the states of the two are entangled.  When you pick up
umbrella, you expose its inner surface to view, and can see whether
there's still moisture on the inside from yesterday's rain.  This act
of observing it "collapses" the wave function of the umbrella - until
you observe it, the inside of the umbrella is in an indeterminate
superposition of states (it's neither dry nor not-dry).  

By collapsing the wave function of the umbrella, you also collapse the
wave function of the atmosphere with which it is entangled, forcing
_its_ state to become determinate.  When this happens, either it rains
(elsewhere, thus dropping its moisture well out of your sight) or is
dry.  In either case, there isn't any rain present when it gets to you.

If you ignore the umbrella when you walk out the door, its state
remains indeterminate.  The atmosphere upwind remains in an
indeterminate superposition of states until it reaches you... at which
point, your act of looking up and saying "Those clouds look ugly!"
collapses its wave function and dumps buckets of water on your head.

The mathematics of this process can be found in any decent text on
quantum mechanics.  Look up the terms "Bell inequality" (which refers
to the inequality of rain distribution based on whether your umbrella
is left in a pointed/closed shape or opened out into a bell-like
shape), and "EPR paradox" (the acronym refers to the Excessive Pouring
Rain well known to those who study such things).

As Dave Barry says, "I am not making this up."

Excuse me - my cat Schroedinger wants to be fed.  At least, I think he
does... he just said "mu".

Dave Platt                                        dplatt at
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