Leaf computing intrigues scientists, according to an article in Nature Science Update, 21 January 2004.
Leaves take in carbon dioxide from the air through small gaps between cells on their undersides, called stomata, but these cannot be left open all the time or the plant will lose too much water vapour and dry out. In order to take in sufficient carbon dioxide without losing too much water, leaves open and close the gaps using cells on either side of the gap called guard cells.
Scientists at Utah State University studied the pattern of opening and closing of the air gaps and found that the underside of leaves appears to be divided into patches where all stomata will be either open or closed. The patches seem to change from open to closed mode in patterns similar to distributed computing, which is a type of information processing that involves communication between many interacting units. The Utah researchers suggest stomata are acting like simple computers, responding to what the surrounding stomata are doing.
Editorial Comment: Information processing only occurs when an outside intelligence has added some information to the processing equipment in the first place. No man-made distributed computing system made itself, so it is foolish to believe biological distributed computing evolved by itself.
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