The sniff test, Smarty Plants

Discussions of the non-monetary values of nature. A majority of people think nature’s benefits for people are very important and most want the value of those benefits calculated in terms other than monetary.

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The sniff test, Smarty Plants

Post by Lucas » Mon May 02, 2016 10:25 am ... the-future

There has been several comments about smells and forests scents here recently. I saw this last night. What caught my eye was measurements of forest aerosols on human mood. This has been mentioned many times but it is the first time I have seen it quantified. It starts at the 34:00 minute mark if you want to skip ahead.

Episode available within Canada only. Ok bummer about that but these shows frequently are worldwide so it may be found with some searching.

episode list

Dreams of the Future
Friday, February 6, 2015 at 3 PM on CBC-TV

Episode available within Canada only.

We live in a world where technology is constantly changing. Sadly you know as you leave the store, that your brand new SmartPhone is already out of date – somebody, somewhere has just upgraded it. Keeping up with the latest everything can be a challenge. We asked Dr. Jennifer Gardy to explore current scientific research that will impact us all in the future.

Dr. Gardy is a Senior Scientist, Molecular Epidemiology at the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control. On this journey, Jennifer travels from Toronto to New York, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Munich and back home to Vancouver – all in the name of science exploration.


Since the 1980s it’s been possible to print 3D objects made from all kinds of materials like plastic, metal and chocolate. Today, scientists are applying 3D printing technology to the field of medicine. They’re printing plastic prosthetic parts, titanium implants, and they have now started to use ink that contains living human cells to create cartilage and bone, skin, and in the not too distant future, functioning liver tissue. It’s only a matter of time before we can 3D bioprint complete fully functioning organs, which could help solve the dilemma of supply keeping up with demand. The possibility of getting a full body scan when we’re young and healthy, and replacing parts as we get older may sound like science fiction but it is could soon become a reality.


Researchers at Volvo blame most auto accidents on the four Ds: distraction, drowsiness, drunkenness and driver error. How to remedy this? Simple – remove the driver from the equation. As we look to the future most auto manufacturers are promising to do just that - take more and more of the driving away from the driver. And a lot of the technology to achieve this is already here: park assist, adaptive cruise control, blind spot warning are all available today. But the notion of a completely driverless car raises questions – not least being – in the event of an accident, who is responsible? The person behind the wheel or the manufacturer?


In a world driven by the bottom line profits of consumerism – where technological innovation and development supersedes all, it may seem that the natural world is being shut out – being forced to take a back seat. Luckily for us, there are those who dream of a world that embraces the wonders of nature – a world that includes endless forests of healthy trees. Keith Park’s job with the National Park Service is to maintain and protect all the trees under his jurisdiction. And he’s prepared to do it one tree at a time. David Milarch’s dream for the future is to clone the champion tress of the world. Although he’s not a scientist, plenty of people believe in him including Prince Charles to Sir Richard Branson. Sally Aitken is a scientist with UBC. She believes genetic diversity is the key to saving the planet.


Back in the 1950s, less than a third of the world’s population lived in urban areas. Today, four out of every five people on the planet live in cities. We love the allure of city life and all that modern technology has given us, including increased life expectancy, but it may be that this trend is about to swing the other way. Scientists are discovering that we could be missing out on an integral component of our existence. Innovative new research points to links between human health and proximity to a more natural world. Have we in fact become too urbanized for our own good? According to some experts there‘s evidence that we just might be the victims of a strange new disease called Nature Deficit Disorder. To discover more, Jennifer goes “forest bathing” in Japan. ... -behaviour

Is it possible that plants are smarter than we think?

They are among the world's oldest and most successful organisms and represent some of the strangest and longest living life forms on the planet. Stunningly diverse, plants have served us in many critical ways, from providing food, shelter and clothing to life-saving medicine. And yet we know very little about them.

Director Erna Buffie said the goal is to show that plants aren't just inanimate objects but active, responsive organisms that are animal-like in many ways. (CBC/Merit Motion Pictures)
Read more on CBC News.
Listen to an interview with Erna Buffie
A luscious exploration of the natural world, Smarty Plants effortlessly integrates pioneering science with a light hearted look at how plants behave, revealing a world where plants are as busy, responsive and complex as we are.

From the stunning heights of Utah's Great Basin Desert to the rainforests of Canada's west coast, Smarty Plants follows lead scientist and ecologist JC Cahill as he treks the green world and discovers that plants are a lot more like animals than we ever imagined. The world he reveals is one where plants eavesdrop on each other, talk to their enemies, call in insect allies to fight those enemies, recognize their relatives and nurture their young.

Sure, we've counted and classified plants. We've even unlocked the secrets of their photosynthesizing powers. But overall, it's been far more interesting to study the animal world because animals move and demonstrate behavior, if not outright intelligence. Plants, on the other hand, just sit there.

Don't they?

Not according to Cahill, who has been studying plants for more than two decades.

"Twenty years ago just uttering the words behavior and plants in the same sentence would have resulted in scientific excommunication!" Cahill insists. "And that's because for a long time, I think, we were hung up on the fact that plants are sessile, they don't move, or at least we don't see them move. And because of who we are, I think we've always equated behavior, even intelligence, with movement."

Fungal network (CBC/Merit Motion Pictures)
Exploding the myth of a passive plant world, this film uncovers the real "secret world" of plants and reveals a landscape pulsing with sex, movement, communication, and social interaction. This is a world where plants talk, forage, wage war and protect their kin; a world where plants behave a lot like us.

Featuring global locations, spectacular time-lapse photography and CGI, and new scientific discoveries, Smarty Plants uncovers a hidden world exposed through the work of Cahill and a team of globetrotting scientists. These experts include: Ian Baldwin (Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology); Consuelo De Moraes (Penn State); Mark Mescher (Penn State); Susan Dudley (McMaster University); Ray Callaway (University of Montana); Suzanne Simard (University of British Columbia).

Produced by Merit Motion Pictures and directed by Erna Buffie in association with the CBC Science and Natural History Documentary Unit.
We travel the Milky way together, trees and men. - John Muir

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