Plants Have Feelings Too!

Thanks to Steven Ross for this post

Plants Have Feelings Too!

Jagadish Chandra Bose

Jagadish Chandra Bose was born on November 30, 1858. His family lived in Rarikhal, Bikrampur, in the current day Munshiganj District of Bangladesh.

In the preface of his book, Plant Autographs and Their Revelations (1927), he says, “I have been able to make the seemingly dumb plant the most eloquent chronicler of its inner life and experiences by making it write down its own history. The self-made records thus made, show that there is no life-reaction in even the highest animal, which has not been foreshadowed in the life of the plant. I shall take my readers with me step by step as the wonders became gradually revealed to me through artificial organs of extraordinary sensitiveness by which alone the realm of the invisible could be explored. The barriers which seemed to separate kindred phenomena will be found to have vanished, the plant and the animal appearing as a multiform unity in a single ocean of being.”

Who was Jagadish Bose and why did he have such an interest in nature? Bose mentions that in his early childhood his family would share stories of birds, animals and aquatic creatures. “Perhaps these stories created in my mind a keen interest in investigating the workings of Nature.”

Bose was a brilliant man and often referred to as a polymath, or a person whose expertise spanned a significant number of different subject areas. In his adult years he pioneered the investigation of radio and microwave optics. He is credited with laying the foundations of experimental science in the India and many have referred to him as one of the fathers of radio science. He made remarkable progress in his research of remote wireless signaling and was the first to use semiconductor junctions to detect radio signals.

Nearly every discovery that Bose made, he refused any profit for himself, and gave his patents and inventions to the public. He stated numerous times in print, and in lectures, that he made his discoveries public in order to allow others to further develop his research. Numerous times Bose refused to sign agreements with manufacturers, even though it would have provided him great remuneration. Many of his inventions were significant. “Jagadish Chandra Bose’s wireless inventions antedated those of Marconi.”

Bose created a device called the crescograph, which measured plant response to various stimuli, and with this device he scientifically proved a parallelism between animal and plant tissues. To facilitate his research, he constructed automatic recorders capable of registering extremely slight movements; these instruments produced some striking results, such as Bose’s demonstration of a power of feeling in plants, exemplified by the quivering of injured plants.

“Suppose there is a lush green plant and its leaves are a sparkling green in the shining sunlight. We feel like pulling out a leaf to feel it. But we do not think of what goes on inside the plant. Maybe, we feel that the plant does not suffer like us. But the plant does suffer. In fact the pulsation of the plant stops where the leaf was plucked. In a short time the pulsation again begins at the spot, but this time very slowly. And then it completely stops. That spot is as good as dead for the plant.” The Bose crescograph used a series of clockwork gears and a smoked glass plate to record the movement of the tip of a plant (or its roots) at magnifications of up to 10,000.

Bose crescograph measures movements in plants

Studying plants under so many different circumstances, led Bose to believe that plants can “feel pain, understand affection, and share all the emotions that are felt by higher animals.” Dr. Bose also expounded on the ‘nervous mechanism’ of plants — the ability of plants to recognize and react to the individual who has committed an act of violence (particularly toward a plant) in their ‘presence’. What is also little known, is Bose experimented with reactions in various metals to different stimuli.

In Bose’s book, Plant Response as a Means of Physiological Investigation (1906), you can find nearly 800 pages of research dealing with the plant kingdom. Bose’s discoveries, that plants have feelings and a greater awareness than most would suspect, was not just a rash statement made by someone with limited perception, but from a solid research scientist.

Venturing into the plant world, an area that we only see from the outside, Bose personally constructed his devices, which allowed measurements that were unheard of in his day, and for many decades after. Bose’s achievements in the science of microwave optics was attested to, by a crater on the moon being named after him.

Today, research regarding plant emotions and feelings is well known, but Bose seems to have been overlooked as a real pioneer in this field. Bose’s life is exemplary of a philosophy that I have shared with you in the past. Jagadish Bose was a man who had a beautiful heart, an open mind and a humble spirit. He approached the plant world with love and the desire to learn what plants had to share. He listened to plants and recorded their feelings, and freely and humbly, shared his discoveries with the world.

To inspire and empower.