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  #61  
Old 05-13-2011, 11:27 PM
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Originally Posted by auroraglacialis View Post
But that is not really true. Take a mycelium because this is the original topic. It transports nutrients and chemicals from one part to the other. That flow of elements can be fast, slow, be diverted to other parts of the mycelium, cease or change in chemical composition. That is data. A plant that releases pheromones to warn other plants about a bug infestation gives information. Distance, intensity of infestation, potentially also direction.
Within an organism, then yes. Is there any data encoded in oxygen an animal breathes and the resulting carbon dioxide? No. It has already been established there is no electrical (which would be a direct neurological analogue) network. I honestly think it would be great if Earth did have some kind of network like that, but the truth is there isn't one.

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But how do we know that. The earths ecosystems are certainly more complex than humans, and we do not really know if there is an "understanding" happening beyond instinct. Animals also learn - they observe and act upon what they have learned. Is that instinct? It is learned behaviour after all. There are even cultures - birds from different places use different tools or techniques.
Yes - but i most cases, are still nonsentient. there is no data transfer between the organisms other than simple communication (sound, touch, pheromones).
Your example about not having numbers is completely beside the point -they are still sentient beings, as I said multiple times.

Movement in animals is just cells using their "hairs" to pull strings we call muscles. In animals these reactions are caused by nerves, in plants there are potential gradients and slower moving impulses that activate them. Of course a single plant will not look at you and react to you individually, but that was not the point here anyways because we are not talking about intelligent or thinking individual plants.


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Well funghi for example interact with trees and other plants beyond their own mycelium.
Yes - biochemically.
The poit about a biochemical reaction is that there is no capcity to encode information within a molecule of a gas, or an amino acid. There is no carrier for your supposed data. Pheromones are an example of a biological system which is an actual form of communication, bu they are very complicatedand specific particles. Species do not transfer data to all others.
I know how a synapse works - it produces an action potential in the cell which causes an electrical impulse, this is a direct change as a result of these, which will reach another synapse or a motor neuron. synapses are specific. Chemical transfer between species is neither, and does not cause specific actions depending on the origin. It is completely non-discriminating - if an animal or plant can be kept in a controlled environment, it does not care where its oxygen/CO2 comes from, the origin of its food (other than basic composition and biological suitability) - it is interchangeable, and there is no data transfer.


Either way, let's get back onto on the actual topic and away from this contrived discussion on Earth, as this is about Pandora - fungi undoubtedly form a part of the network with their connection to plants - but that does not mean the network is based on them, especially not in terms of mycelium when it is directly shown to have a similar effect as electrical impulses in the nervous system. Fungi may well link areas or individual plants where they interact, but they are not the medium itself.
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  #62  
Old 05-17-2011, 04:53 PM
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In response to the thread though, I would also have to agree with Aihwa's earlier statement. The tree of souls and the trees of voices are connections to Eywa - like nerve endings, you might say. The only problem is that, the actual network that makes Eywa is in fog, to say the least.
Indeed. So in a way Earth is a planet that has no tree of souls or trees of voices.

What forms these connections on Pandora I think is not really disclosed. Is it actually roots touching other roots? Or is there a network that is more direct. After all to transport information with electric impulses, the gaps cannot be too large - roots touching each other physically would not be enough, they would have to have some sort of connection. A network of nerves that are literally grown together to a large network. What does it encompass? Certainly not the animals because they can move around, but all plants? or just trees? What about sessile animals? It is fascinating I sur also hope we learn more about the idea behind that.

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Is there any data encoded in oxygen an animal breathes and the resulting carbon dioxide?
Not a lot, no. Is there information encoded in water in brain cells or in glucose feeding them? The information is not in the nutrients, though of course even there is some information - lower/higher concentrations - lower oxygen in the brain makes you sleepy, lower oxygen in an ecosystem favours smaller animals over larger ones etc.

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The poit about a biochemical reaction is that there is no capcity to encode information within a molecule of a gas, or an amino acid. There is no carrier for your supposed data. Pheromones are an example of a biological system which is an actual form of communication, bu they are very complicatedand specific particles. Species do not transfer data to all others.
I know how a synapse works - it produces an action potential in the cell which causes an electrical impulse, this is a direct change as a result of these, which will reach another synapse or a motor neuron. synapses are specific. Chemical transfer between species is neither, and does not cause specific actions depending on the origin.
Bio-Electrical impulses have no capacity to encode information. You cannot encode information within a single impulse...

What I am trying to say is that when electrical impulses are the transporter of data in the brain, the network of synapses are the carrier of the information. The same can be said for ecosystems and interspecies relationships as the carrier of the information and biochemical substances as the transporter of the information.

Ok, I will try to describe it more mechanistical. The neurons and synapses in the brain are not merely "hardware" on which a operating system made of electrical impulses runs. The structure of the connections between the neurons actually make up memories. If we memorize something, new synapses are formed. Electrical impulses then use this network to process information and to access the information stored in the very structure of the network itself. With "Gaia", this would then be a bit upscaled, the neurons and synapses are species and individuals that have specific reactions to specific impulses and thus very individual connections to the world around them. For example some insects only pollinate one specific flower, others a small range of them, others whatever they can get. A individual wild cat drops her poop at a specific spot and goes to a specific place to sleep. A different cat would do something else. They are not interchangeable. Pheromones trigger specific responses in only a few other species. Plants can produce pheromones to warn others and to call beneficial insects if attacked. Each of these things is of course just one single connection. The density of these connections is not as high as in a brain, but we are talking about a much larger thing here. Now the network (comparable to the synapses and neurons) is then the interaction of plant and animal species, or even of individual animals and plants. Then the biochemical and physical interactions constitute the impulses of information as electrical impulses in the brain do.
When the human brain is a digital computer (which is it not, it is not a 0 or 1 system), the ecosystems of the Earth are a mechanical, analog computer. Much slower and larger.

I dont know if I can make it much more clear than that in expressing what I want to say.

Basically the memory, - the information is not stored in the impulses alone but mostly in the connections between the "nodes" of the network.

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if an animal or plant can be kept in a controlled environment, it does not care where its oxygen/CO2 comes from
If a brain cell is kept in a controlled nutrient broth and fed with electrical impulses it does not care where they come from. Actually they already did that to whole brains of animals - put them in nutrient solution and fire electrical impulses at them.

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Either way, let's get back onto on the actual topic and away from this contrived discussion on Earth, as this is about Pandora
I apologize for diverting the topic from Pandora to Earth, but I find this topic really fascinating. I wish we would have split this into a new topic a while ago.
If you wish, we can stop talking about this here.

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Fungi may well link areas or individual plants where they interact, but they are not the medium itself.
Maybe funghi are sort of the synapses and individual plants are the cells/nodes/neurons?
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  #63  
Old 05-17-2011, 08:19 PM
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Originally Posted by auroraglacialis View Post
What forms these connections on Pandora I think is not really disclosed. Is it actually roots touching other roots? Or is there a network that is more direct.
There's no reason it can't be through the roots - there is very little latency in an electrical signal. The gaps aren't particularly large anyway - the largest would be the roots seen among the mountains. Most likely, there are specialised nervelike structures that actually connect from one root to another.
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Bio-Electrical impulses have no capacity to encode information. You cannot encode information within a single impulse...
No, but it can trigger a response. A synapse can act as what I guess would be most analogous to a logic gate, and can require certain activity levels to activate. A nerve can have multiple inputs to a single output. That is how differing responses occur.

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Maybe funghi are sort of the synapses and individual plants are the cells/nodes/neurons?
This is possible - they could form part of the connection inbetween them, depending on how the signal is actually transferred through them. I wouldn't call that a fungal organism though, just that it is a component (individual fungi are also likely components much like any other plant is).
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Old 05-18-2011, 04:37 PM
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Ok. So the conclusion is as always "we don't know"

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Originally Posted by Human No More View Post
No, but it can trigger a response. A synapse can act as what I guess would be most analogous to a logic gate, and can require certain activity levels to activate. A nerve can have multiple inputs to a single output. That is how differing responses occur.
Well but that is the same with other systems on Earth? The abundance of a species, the reaction of individual plants or animals to external factors may sum up or work in a different way, creating different responses. A plant that had its leafs eaten by insects may react differently to pheromones than other plants. It may as a result stop taking up nutrients or water. There is one mechanism for example - plants that are attacked by certain insects will send out biochemical signals to their kin. Some of these plants then deliberately attract these insects to avoid the others to become prey to them, sacrificing themselves. Nature is full of these kind of unexpected interactions that definitely react on information that goes in and produce information that goes out.
Of course that all is not as simple as a neural network that has only one type of "hardware" and one kind of impulse to travel along them. So it is unlikely that there are some single biochemical molecules that act as impulses and only one type of connection that acts as network.
I would imagine the natural world as a complex network made of different entities. Like a brain that not only has almost identical neurons, synapses and uses electrical impulses, but rather various different kinds of neurons with different shapes and different modes of operation and different kinds of synapses that fulfil the same basic function - connecting the "nodes", but do this in a different way. And the same goes for the impulses.
So one node may be a single tree, another an individual animal and another a whole species in an ecosystem. The connections and impulses may be physical touch, biochemical interaction, lights, colors, scents. Or they may be one being eating another or drinking anothers nectar. The information may travel along unlikely paths like pollen transported over long distances or be as direct as nutrients flowing into a root from nudules of bacteria or funghi.

But as I said, this is turning into a philosophical exploration of animism and that may not be what is of interest. I hope some found it interesting though
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