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Earth Science

Study Hints Ambient Radio Waves May Affect Plant Growth 298

Posted by kdawson
from the can-you-hear-me-now dept.
dwguenther writes "A Lyons (Colorado) area woman with no academic pedigree has published a scientific paper in the International Journal of Forestry Research about the adverse effects of radio waves on aspen seedlings. Katie Haggerty, who lives north of Steamboat Mountain, found in a preliminary experiment done near her house that aspens shielded from electromagnetic radiation were healthier than those that were not. 'I found that the shielded seedlings produced more growth, longer shoots, bigger leaves, and more total leaf area. The shielded group produced 60 percent more leaf area and 74 percent more shoot length than a mock-shielded group,' she said." This was not a definitive study, as its author readily admits — it's hard to see how a double-blind study could even be designed in this area — but it was refereed.
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Study Hints Ambient Radio Waves May Affect Plant Growth

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  • Double blind study (Score:5, Informative)

    by bunyip (17018) on Tuesday July 06, 2010 @07:30PM (#32819210)

    it's hard to see how a double-blind study could even be designed in this area

    In the medical field, it means that both the patient and the doctor evaluating the symptoms don't know who received a placebo.

    For this experiment - setup two antennae in front of some seedlings, have a different dude turn one of them on. The person measuring the seedling growth doesn't know which were exposed to radio waves. That's all you need to make sure the study doesn't have some bias in it.

  • Re:Right (Score:3, Informative)

    by jaroslav (467876) on Tuesday July 06, 2010 @07:45PM (#32819398)
    While that may be true quite often in the media, nothing in the story suggests that's the case here. She had three sets of plants, one shielded with a Faraday cage, one shielded in fiberglass, and one completely unshielded. Her results aren't simply a lack of insect damage.
  • by h4rr4r (612664) on Tuesday July 06, 2010 @07:46PM (#32819406)

    The study surely needs to be blind from the researchers point of view, this sort of this is just begging for confirmation bias.

  • by flowwolf (1824892) on Tuesday July 06, 2010 @07:52PM (#32819524)
    When it's a medical study, it's accounting for a patient's bias.
    Scientists can have bias as well, this is why researchers use the double blind method to eliminate their personal bias from the results.

    Personally, I think the shielding worked more as a cozy for the plant and gave it a more stable immediate environment upon which to grow. Perhaps even the faraday cage was diminishing the light around the geraniums, so they spent more energy growing their leaves bigger to compensate. Given my personal bias, I wouldn't of published yet since I know there couldn't be a correlation. There are any number of reasons why a bias of opinion might be involved and there is any number of reasons why plants in a cage could grow better than plants not. I doubt she had the soil, in which the roots were, wrapped with a faraday cage either.

  • Re:Not mine. (Score:3, Informative)

    by noidentity (188756) on Tuesday July 06, 2010 @07:54PM (#32819538)
    Whoosh!
  • by shaitand (626655) on Tuesday July 06, 2010 @08:11PM (#32819736) Journal

    fscking amateurs. foil absorbs light and causes hotspots on your "pepper" plants. You are better off with flat white paint or reflective mylar.

    Of course if you weren't really growing peppers but something like medical marijuana then you'd want to know that experimentation shows that grow is no better under targeted spectrum LED than it is under select HID lighting. In fact, it takes just as many watts of LED to get the same effect so you don't save electricity there.

    The only real benefit to LED is less heat (and need to dispose of that heat somehow) but this is generally outweighed by the insane costs of 600w LED grow lights.

  • Re:Not mine. (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 06, 2010 @08:17PM (#32819810)

    It's called "oxygen toxicity", and it generally only occurs when the oxygen is inhaled at a higher-than-normal pressure It's the reason SCUBA divers use gas mixtures at depth instead of pure oxygen.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxygen_toxicity

  • by shaitand (626655) on Tuesday July 06, 2010 @08:21PM (#32819866) Journal

    "1. nothing noticed so far"

    Sure there is. There is a steady increase in C02 Levels in the atmosphere. This should result in a corresponding increase in plant growth since plants are largely bottlenecked by the relatively low C02 levels in the modern vs the 1500ppm that existed when they evolved. Plants should be able to balance any increase in C02 emissions and yet they aren't.

    "2. the sun dumps all kinds of EM on everything."

    The sun also dumps UV radiation which is known to be harmful to both plants and animals on everything.

    Just because it is a natural process doesn't make it good or balanced. The whole natural good, artificial bad myth is just some nonsense spouted by hippies. Nature is just as good at screwing it up as we are (even if you don't consider us a byproduct of nature) it just tends to do it on a larger and more difficult to counteract scale.

  • Re:No double-blind? (Score:5, Informative)

    by metrometro (1092237) on Tuesday July 06, 2010 @09:09PM (#32820350)

    Yeah, that's pretty much what she did. Wasn't double blind, but she used real Faraday cages and placebo cages in fiberglass, along with another non-caged control. Should be easy enough to replicate, only with uninformed interns watering the plants.

  • by shaitand (626655) on Tuesday July 06, 2010 @09:15PM (#32820398) Journal

    Not light that is expended/converted to sugars via photosynthesis.

    The LEDs only emit wavelengths that are used by the plants. Using the right HID lights for the stage of growth does well but nothing like the efficiency of LED.

    600w of LED should be bright but when it is targeted at the plants almost everything is absorbed so you only see a very faint purple (red+blue if you are colorwheel illiterate).

  • by Khyber (864651) <techkitsune@gmail.com> on Tuesday July 06, 2010 @09:19PM (#32820426) Homepage Journal

    Don't even need an enclosed room. We use LEDs in greenhouses all the time to extend photoperiods.

    Works really well.

  • by CheshireCatCO (185193) on Tuesday July 06, 2010 @09:25PM (#32820482) Homepage

    Actually, the Sun isn't all that bright in the radio. The brightest source in the radio sky is Sag. A*, the center of our galaxy.

    (Or so I was taught the summer I did research at the VLA.)

  • by Khyber (864651) <techkitsune@gmail.com> on Tuesday July 06, 2010 @09:28PM (#32820504) Homepage Journal

    "fscking amateurs. foil absorbs light and causes hotspots on your "pepper" plants."

    LOL. I have *NO* problems with any of my foil-lined boxes. ANY improperly-done reflective job will create a hot spot, INCLUDING MYLAR, which is the stuff we use for an EMERGENCY BLANKET.

    "Of course if you weren't really growing peppers but something like medical marijuana then you'd want to know that experimentation shows that grow is no better under targeted spectrum LED than it is under select HID lighting. In fact, it takes just as many watts of LED to get the same effect so you don't save electricity there."

    Dead wrong, sir. I am a licensed medical patient, as well as a breeder for the Dutch (I preserve landrace genetics found in the wild across the globe,) AND I do indoor NFT hydroponics sheds across the globe which are illuminated by LED, and your statement is factually incorrect. From wheat, to tomatoes, to medical cannabis, I've regularly achieved higher yield per kilowatt-hour with LED versus HID. Also, with LED, the resulting product is more potent, as there is no green or yellow light, which plays an inhibitory and regulatory role in most non-marine flora.

    In fact, I replaced 832w of *VERY SELECT* HPS and T5HO lighting with 350w of my specially-designed LED lighting and get the same results.

    I know why LED panels fail to yield. That research went into my own panels. Also, most panel manufacturers use the CHEAP 1w diodes. Those bottom-bin pieces of garbage aren't worth the sapphire substrate they're laid upon. That's also incidentally why the garbage LED panels are so cheap.

  • Re:Double blind (Score:3, Informative)

    by junglebeast (1497399) on Tuesday July 06, 2010 @10:07PM (#32820800)

    A double blind study is to prevent placebo effect as well as experimenter bias. I guess they are worried that the trees might feel compelled to grow more if they were told that there are no radio waves...

  • MSDS (Score:3, Informative)

    by copponex (13876) on Tuesday July 06, 2010 @11:19PM (#32821256) Homepage

    https://fscimage.fishersci.com/msds/96252.htm [fishersci.com]

    Danger! Corrosive. Harmful if inhaled. May be absorbed through intact skin. Causes eye and skin irritation and possible burns. May cause severe respiratory tract irritation with possible burns. May cause severe digestive tract irritation with possible burns. May cause liver and kidney damage. May cause central nervous system effects. This substance has caused adverse reproductive and fetal effects in animals. Inhalation of fumes may cause metal-fume fever. Possible sensitizer.

    Target Organs: Blood, kidneys, central nervous system, liver, brain.

    Just ignore that. Go play with some, preferably in the room where you sleep.

  • Re:ding ding ding (Score:3, Informative)

    by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Tuesday July 06, 2010 @11:57PM (#32821492) Homepage Journal

    Whoeever came up with this "study" is a moron.

    Whoever calls a researcher a moron without bothering to read a short, easily accessible article about the research ... is a moron.

    In this case, that would be you.

  • by MaskedSlacker (911878) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @12:11AM (#32821568)

    Algae relies on large quantities of other nutrients as well, not just CO2.

  • Re:Not mine. (Score:3, Informative)

    by oiron (697563) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @02:30AM (#32822414) Homepage
    At high pressures, O2 is poisonous. Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] has the details...
  • Re:Poor control (Score:2, Informative)

    by chocapix (1595613) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @05:19AM (#32823274)
    Or, shield all plants with a metal cage (one cage per plant), put an antenna in every cage and choose randomly which antennas you turn on. That way, not only you're pretty sure you control everything but you can easily vary the amount and kind of EM radiation you submit the plants to.
  • by mcgrew (92797) * on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @11:25AM (#32826860) Homepage Journal

    I don't know anyone who's used LEDs, but a friend was growing some high grade bud using banks of CFLs. More light than halogen, with FAR less heat and electrical consumption, and the plants grew faster and bigger than with halogen.

  • by Khyber (864651) <techkitsune@gmail.com> on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @01:44PM (#32828708) Homepage Journal

    No newsletter, sadly. I had a blog related to horticulture, but that's currently off-line thanks to hosting issues (namely the guy running my site didn't pay his hosting.)

    I do answer e-mails related to horticultural questions. Just shoot of an e-mail to techkitsune at gmail dot com and I'll try to respond ASAP.

The superior man understands what is right; the inferior man understands what will sell. -- Confucius

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