Thanks to everyone who wrote to me with great feedback on my recent Radiolab spot, and apologies for the blog blackout over the last three weeks. I've been traveling in New Zealand, which some provided some good material that you will see here soon.
One of the people who wrote to me was science writer Kate Ruder, who said the episode jogged her memory regarding this ground-breaking album she inherited from her mother-in-law.
As many people have pointed out, the idea that plants respond to light, sound, and touch is not a new one.
Take a minute to bask in the awesome. Dr. George Milstein, by the way, was apparently a retired dentist.
If the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission funded it, it must be legit, right?
Even more awesome are the hipster-tastic tracks from the album I've managed to dig up here (source) and here. Although the plant-friendly sounds are supposedly only embedded within the music, what you hear here obviously says a lot more about the humans of 1970 than the plants. I'm pretty sure you can hear the sounds intended for the plants bleed through if you listen carefully -- they sound a bit like the tones played during a hearing test.
Some Radiolab listeners seem to have been bothered by the use of the words "hear" or "learn" regarding plants. My feeling is that if the experiments detailed in the episode are indeed replicated, plants probably don't accomplish or experience these feats the same way we do. But if the end result is the same -- well, I'm perfectly willing to calling a spade a spade. My home assistant Alexa hears me in a very different way than I hear her, and she experiences that process in a very different way. Does that mean she can't hear?