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ISV Venture Star 09-14-2010 07:25 AM

Is Eywa a fungal organism?
Something like this, but larger and sentient and non-destructive. Living in symbiosis with the forest and using the abundant superconductor to enhance communication.

Largest organisms - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Isard 09-14-2010 07:26 AM

While there are fungal plants on Pandora, there are plenty of nonfungal ones as well.

ISV Venture Star 09-14-2010 07:28 AM

Fungi aren't plants (although they often work extremely closely with them, as is the case with lichens). They're more closely related to animals!

Isard 09-14-2010 07:33 AM

Mkay, "fungal organisms", but Eywa's distributed through the trees as well.

ISV Venture Star 09-14-2010 07:40 AM

On Earth, fungi 'tsaheylu' with trees. Sometimes many hundreds of trees at once Mycorrhiza - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Isard 09-14-2010 07:41 AM

The trees are the hardware, Eywa's the software.

ISV Venture Star 09-14-2010 07:45 AM


Originally Posted by Aihwa (Post 94565)
The trees are the hardware, Eywa's the software.

The trees are her peripheral nervous system. Eywa's brain is probably vast quantities of mycelial (fungal) strands connecting all the trees together.

Isard 09-14-2010 07:47 AM

The brain is the nervous system. Its all neurons continuously sending signals to each other.

ISV Venture Star 09-14-2010 07:52 AM


Originally Posted by Aihwa (Post 94568)
The brain is the nervous system. Its all neurons continuously sending signals to each other.

The central part of the nervous system, yes. Eywa's trees are like the nerve cells in fingers and eyes and things. The peripheral nervous system. Sensors. They send signals to the main brain.

Human No More 09-14-2010 12:16 PM

Aihwa is right. Eywa works in the same way as the human brain, except neurons are replaced with trees and the synapses are the connections between them, plus overall there are more connections.

If you read the survival guide, it says that many plants on Pandora have an animal-like nervous system

auroraglacialis 09-20-2010 11:36 AM

Thanks for pointing me towards this thread, ISV

I just listened to some of the talks of Paul Stamets ( Podcast Episode: Living Green: Paul Stamets, Fungal Intelligence and the 21st Psychedelic Journey - "How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World." in our "11th Hour" edition. (EveryBody Inspired to Succeed ) and I have heard some of his previous talks as well, he is also on "TED".

The deal is this - on Earth, funghi are something between plants and animals, more on the animal side. They have vast networks of connected cells underground with mushrooms as "fruit". Their networks resemble neural networks, the structure of the internet and even the structure of railway systems. Mycelia is also mobile, it can literally move towards food, consume it and move on: YouTube - Schleimpilze 1 von 4 (german language, but good pictures) . It has a pulse and chemicals are distributed throughout the network. It senses the presence of animals, reacts to the footsteps of animals by reaching up and some mycelia are bioluminescent:
To say that these networks are conscious and actually act like neurons is a bit of a stretch, as they have no electrical signal transduction (you can hear Norm and Grace talking about that in respect to Pandora on their first expedition), but Paul Stamet goes that way and he is no new age guy, but a very renowned scientist. Soo - mushrooms could be Earths version of that network that harbors the Eywa-consciousness.

The similarities to Pandora are very interesting indeed. For once, Plants there have often animal properties, so the vegetation there is basically very close in their classification to what mushrooms are on Earth, but maybe leaning more towards the plants than animals. They also form a network, transmit signals and probably nutrients, much like Earths funghi. You can see bioluminescent mycelia-like veins or connections covering the planet at nighttime. You can see fine strands of something that looks like mycelium coming up to cover Grace during the ceremony. The network reacts to touch (by glowing) and in some images it looks like not all roots are participating, but rather some glowing veins cover them.

So I would not say that "Eywa is a mushroom", but that many of the vegetation on Pandora is actually biologically similar to mushrooms on Earth (I think in the Guide they are called zoophytes?). Eywa is a presence, a consciousness that resides within the network set up by these fungal-like organisms like a human consciousness resides in the network of brain cells (or at least expresses itself that way ;) ).

Now what about Earth - can there be a "Gaia"-consciousness here? I dont think it is completely unlikely. Paul Stamet thinks so and the mycelium of all the funghi on Earth are so vast and so complex that it would have the possibility. However as we have no electric signal transduction (maybe Pandora has it because of the Unobtainoum) on Earth, communication would be slower, so if there is a consciousness, it would be a slow thinker - for it, time would run very fast and human civilization would be a stressful matter, as it is happeing very very fast: YouTube - Das Rad (funny video! German with engl. subtitles)

Interestingly, it was discovered, that electric transduction in organisms beyond animals is possible: Electrically conductive bacterial nanowires produced by Shewanella oneidensis strain MR-1 and other microorganisms

So what I think is, that this planets biosphere has the very real potential to at least become a Pandora with a consciousness. Maybe it already is, but maybe it just could become - and this makes me even sadder at the fact that the possibly first try to achieve intelligent consciousness here - human beeings - are about to diminish the chances for such a future.

Greetings, Aurora

Human No More 09-20-2010 03:23 PM

Zooplantae actually, but yes.
There are certainly fungi on Pandora (remember that giant mushroom that Jake lands on? :P ) and those are going to be part of Eywa like all the other plant species are... But in a way, I suppose the overall structure could be seen as very similar, it's just that fungi on Earth don't have the size or biological sophistication for consciousness.

I think that a 'Gaia' is possible, but doesn't actually exist (on Earth, anyway)0. After all, as far as I understand the idea, it works in a very similar way.

As for the method of signal transduction, I don't think it is unobtainium as there is already a method of transferring electrical signals via neurons - I'd guess that the roots simply include similar structures and act as synapses.

auroraglacialis 09-20-2010 05:12 PM


Originally Posted by Human No More (Post 95677)
it's just that fungi on Earth don't have the size or biological sophistication for consciousness.

I think that a 'Gaia' is possible, but doesn't actually exist (on Earth, anyway)0. After all, as far as I understand the idea, it works in a very similar way.

As for the method of signal transduction, I don't think it is unobtainium as there is already a method of transferring electrical signals via neurons

Well - funghi on Earth are massive. Listen to some stuff from Stamets. It is amazing. There are tons and tons of biomass that is only funghi mycelium in healthy forests. It literally is what keeps it all together. Go into a forest and dig a small hole and you will find mycelium all over the place. The beauty of it is that it does not require whole trees as cells and roots as synapses, but is a rather dense network already. It has as many connections and nodes in a cube meter than a forest has trees. The biological sophistication - yes, that is a problem. The network is there, but signal transduction not so much and of course a network does not mean consciousness per se. It merely proves the basis for it.

Personally I believe, that there is a Gaia at least in the classical sense of Lovelock, who defined it as a system of regulatory circles keeping the state of the world in balance and repairing damage. This world would not exist if life itself would not have shaped it to have air with O2 and N2 and a little CO2 in it. The idea of a conscious Gaia is quite debateable of course and is more philosophical.

On signal transduction. The thing is that neurons work a different way than funghi or plant fibres. Neurons work with electric potential, which is quite fast, while the others seem to work chemically, beeing rather slow. A "brain" that is distributed over lets say some acres would not only require to be faster than what funghi seem to be able to provide, but even would have to be faster than regular neurons. At least if the processing speed shall be as fast as what our timescale demands. A signal from your foot takes some splitseconds to reach your brain - if that brain is half a mile away and the memory center of the brain is another mile away and so on - this would make Eywa or Gaia a very slow mind, thinking more in geological timescales. That is, why I think electric signal transduction maybe with metals or superconductors would benefit such a concept greatly.

Human No More 09-20-2010 05:50 PM

Superconductors wouldn't actually speed up the rate of conduction compared to one based on a biologically generated electrical potential, they would only reduce the resistance (which would actually have an effect primarily by permitting longer runs of a single connection).

Raiden 09-20-2010 07:12 PM

How did I not find this thread sooner?

Yeah, "Eywa" isn't a fungus, it's a network of plants that have somehow evolved something structurally and physiologically similar to nervous systems in animals. While fungi do belong in kingdom animalia, they do not have true nervous systems; they only mimic them structurally.

Some of the plants on Pandora actually look a little bit like Cnidarians (jellyfish, sea anenomes, coral, and hydrae). Especially the woodsprites, which are based more or less on these:

As for the unobtainium, I doubt it works with the planetary intelligence as well, since the geology had to have been around before the biology. I suppose it could learn to use it somehow to help itself, but that all depends on how smart it really is.

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