Natural collaboration of fungi and forests offers lessons for humans

Lawrence Brown


The better your telescope, the more you can see in the past. Astronomers can now see light coming from far more places than ever before. Since the light we see was emitted in the distant past, we look back in time to the early days of the universe.

As astronomers create composite images from their images, a strange picture of the primordial universe is formed. With galaxies still unformed, the universe appears to be filled with enormous clouds of cosmic gas. Eventually, this gas will fuse into thermonuclear stars, but not yet. Instead, the images look strangely familiar.

The primordial universe, in its vast vast network, is similar to the network of neurons in our brains. When neurons cross, the electrical synapses can be imagined as glowing centers of light, rather than night-time aerial images of cityscapes revealing luminous clusters of light where the main arteries connect.

We know that the human brain contains about 100 billion neurons – with 100 trillion connections. We have a galactic complexity mind in the literal sense of the word.

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I’ll pause now to enter a skeptical warning. fact that aesthetically One complex thing alike does not prove that they share the same function. However, that doesn’t prove that they didn’t do it either. We have to keep thinking.

A bright young star is surrounded by a shroud of dense gas and dust in this image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. The young stellar body is located more than 9,000 light years from Earth in the constellation Taurus.

What we do know is that this early, neuron-looking universe is what we know Ability …that the universe as we now know it was latent, not yet formed. If we dare to use poetic language here, it is a kind of cosmic idea that has not yet appeared.

The Lord God of hosts said, “Your thoughts are not my thoughts, nor are your ways my ways.”

Not kidding.

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Meanwhile, there’s another vast neural network that’s been under our feet the whole time. We recently discovered it. Tongue-in-cheek, it’s called the “wooden web”.

Look at the insignificant mushrooms. When it starts growing between our toes, we can’t wait to remove it from us. Think of mushrooms. But a mushroom is just a fungal flower. Under the ground is a delicate “fungal” network of tendrils and roots. This is where the organism really lives. It turns out that the fungus in the forests digests not only rotting trees; They sustain life in ways that botanists are just beginning to discover.

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The so-called “mycorrhizal network” forms an underground system of plumbing and telephone lines spread under the forest floor, connecting all the trees in it. When parasites infect a tree, the word travels through the fungal fungal network to alert its neighbors, who begin to secrete defensive toxins.

The seedlings are not tall enough to get nutritious sunlight, get water, and conserve sugars by pipes through the mesh. The largest “mother” trees transfer nitrogen, carbon, and sugar water to the smaller trees. Sick or injured trees get special help through Wood-Wide Web.

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Is this sympathy – or just self-interest? Both suggest a strange feeling at work. And with it, an insight into time. We usually think of compassion and self-interest as opposites…incompatible. Maybe we were wrong. Kindness, at the deepest level, is perhaps our most practical strategy.

Fungi and trees have a common interest. They do better in the woods with a lot of companies. The free-standing tree is heroic, but it is also lonely, cut off from signs and conserves nutrients from allies that may be in the woods. Perhaps saving individual trees is not the point. rescue Forests he is.

Graphically displaying the network of roots fungi takes on a familiar form – that of the complex network of gas clouds in the forming universe … and the stacked neural network of the human brain. All three networks are the engines of creation. As destruction and dissolution are woven into reality itself, perhaps on a cosmic scale, creation and mercy become one.

Scientists are using human-derived brain cells to develop more realistic models of Alzheimer's disease.

Below where we live, we take our cerebral cortex outside for a walk in the woods and appreciate for the first time something strange between the synapses of our brains and the supporting maze beneath the forest floor. Is it possible that we are connected to a mind beyond imagination at levels that are overwhelmingly difficult to comprehend – and too sensitive to be noticed?

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“I’ll believe it when I see him,” shouted the skeptic. The Sufi answers: “You will see it when you believe it.” Subatomic electrons revolve around the nuclear nucleus. In a larger iteration of the same scheme, planets orbit their stars and entire solar systems orbit their galaxies. We have a brain the size of a lunchbox. The spectrum of reality spreads far beyond our abilities to understand. Perhaps we are just not supposed to understand it. Maybe it’s supposed to the love He. She. Maybe this is our job.

Lawrence Brown is a columnist for the Cape Cod Times. Email him at [email protected].

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