Why does moss generate electricity? – There are thousands of known species of mosses. They can be found under a hedge in our backyard, but also near the polar regions, in the humid tropics, on a driveway, a fallen log, near lakes, rivers and ponds. Moss can be found almost everywhere on earth except in the salty waters of the ocean. There is for example hardly any moss on a beach. Did you know that this simple plant, with no leaves, stems or roots, that grows even under the most barren conditions, can be used to generate electricity?
If you discover a patch of moss in the garden that has turned brown or black, it may appear to be completely dead, but if you pour a little bit of water over it then a miracle will happen. The moss resurrects. The plant will turn fresh green and it will begin thrive again. Moss can demonstrate this resurrective power again and again! It also uses its tiny threads to attach itself to the hardest rocks and stones, where it can live of almost nothing. Is it this pure will to live that allows it to generate so much extra electricity?
During photosynthesis, plants create surplus protons and electrons. Mosses convert fewer of them into sugars for growth, as they are slow and low growing. It now seems that this is the reason why moss produces more electricity then it needs for its own growth and maintenance. But then, there are the questions; why are mosses doing this? What is the purposes of this extra energy? Are they using it to communicate? Is the electromagnetic moss-language still a plant language that is waiting to be discovered?
Instead of trying to answer these questions scientists decided to take the energy as a waste product to power devices. The first device that was powered was a radio. The ‘Moss-FM’ is the world’s first plant-powered radio. It was developed by the designer Fabienne Felder, with support from scientists Paolo Bombelli and Ross Dennis. The radio runs entirely on energy produced by moss. Ten pots of moss produce about 25 microampere at 4.5 volts, enough to charge a battery that allows Moss FM to run anywhere on the planet.
Since the invention of ‘Moss-FM’, more applications of moss energy have become available, like ‘the moss solar panel’:
What are plants talking about? – According to Swiss researchers Mousavi and Chauvin, the nervous system of animals are capable of sending electrical signals at speeds up to 100 metre per second.
Plants do this at speeds up to 3 metre per second. This means that a tree in the Netherlands can send a message throughout the country in less than 2 hours and a tree in the south of Germany can send a message in a bit more than one day throughout Europe. If a tree in Paris, France, would want to send a message to a tree in Shanghai, China, then this would take about 4 days.
The answer to the question ‘what are plants talking about?’, is still a mystery.
Is it true that trees and flowers communicate with each other? What language do they use?
The ocean floors are full of filament like structures, formed by plants that produce electricity. Increasingly, research begins to demonstrate that the key necessities for all life on earth is indeed electricity. From shrubs, to ants, to birds, to people, anything harnesses energy via the transference of electrons. Some experts think that the very first cell like organisms on earth channelled electricity from the seafloor using filament-shaped gardens.
In a study (2015), NASA researchers Laurie Barge and Michael Russell reported growing their own tiny plant like filaments in a laboratory and using them to power a light bulb. The findings demonstrate that the underwater structures may indeed have given an electrical boost to earth’s first life forms.
But, organic life doesn’t want to get shocked, so it needs exactly the right amount of electricity. The experiment shows what that amount of electricity might be — just under one volt. The puzzle as to why plants generate electricity is now on the table. It is part of a re-evaluation in which electrical signals and frequencies seem to be the key.
Of course, plants themselves do not use this electricity to power light bulbs. Research suggests that they generate the electricity to energize very sophisticated systems of communications. The decoding of the electric language among plants has started, not only deep down on the ocean floor, but also of the passion flowers, the roses and the pine-trees.
The question arises: what happens with these natural lines of electric communication if they get exposed to artificial electric fields and signals? What are they doing with the radiation that is emitted from a cell phone?
In his work, Professor of Plant Biology Massimo Maffei has been exploring the relationship between the geomagnetic field of the planet and plant responses. This research is becoming increasingly important as new evidence reveals the sensitivity and reactivity of plants to varying magnetic fields, for example by altering their gene expression, their growth and development.
The current view is that life on earth has evolved in response to changes in the geomagnetic field and that these changes will have consequences. The magnetic component of artificial electric radiation produced by mobile phone base stations, Wi-Fi, etcetera, has hardly been researched but is expected to have consequences.
Scientists have only recently started to understand that plants need electrical signals in multiple ways, but it is unknown what the long term impact will be of al the electro-pollutants that are beginning to invade every park and every forest.
Understanding geomagnetic field effects on life will provide the fundamental background necessary to understand the evolution of life in different ways, and may help us to develop sensible recommendations for our future relationship with the ecosystem.