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No. 105: May-Jun 1996

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Arboreal Internets

Over a half century ago, Yale scientist H.S. Burr was inserting electrodes into trees to measure how voltage differences varied during the day and lunar month. Y. Miwa, at Waseda University in Tokyo, has gone more than one step farther. He and his coworkers have placed electrodes in the trunks of trees - 250 trees at a time - and measured the voltage differences every 2 seconds. They have discerned intriguing synchrony.

"Miwa and his colleages studied primeval forests in Japan's Shizuoka and Nigata Prefectures, recording signals for two days at a time. In each forest, there were several groups of between 20 and 50 trees showing a similar pattern of changes in their potentials, each of which contained about half a dozen species. Neighboring trees were the most likely to be synchronized, but the groups did not have rigid boundaries. The membership of the groups was also not fixed: between the first and second days of recording, individual trees 'joined' and 'dropped out'."

Miwa advances the idea that the trees must somehow be communicating with each other to achieve this synchrony. Botanists, though, suspect that environmental conditions force this coordinated behavior. Miwa will next remove a few members from each group to see if his arbicides are noticed by the neighbors.

(Endo, Shinichi; "Japan's Ancient Trees Whisper Their Secrets," New Scientist, p. 19, May 13, 1995)

Cross reference. This is not the first time we have offered evidence of "tree talk". See "Trees Talk in W-Waves". (SF#63)

From Science Frontiers #105, MAY-JUN 1996. 1996-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987