Nature’s Depths

Walking through nature with John Palka, a neuroscientist who loves plants and ponders big questions

Layers of Life

Exploration

Living things are almost never found in isolation. Rather, life occurs in communities and ecosystems. By no means all the members of a biological community are apparent to the naked eye or to the camera lens, but I find it rewarding to look for moments when the way a community functions reveals itself in a visible way.

Read More

Water Rising

Exploration

Water enters a plant through the roots, but it is needed by all of the plant’s living cells. The leaves (or the needles of a conifer) can be several hundred feet above the soil. Trees have no pumps analogous to an animal heart. How, then, does water get to the top of a Doug fir or a redwood? Read and find out!

Read More

Tags:

In the Cold Midwinter

Exploration

Many of us enjoy the brisk cold of winter, especially out here in Minnesota. Hardy mammals and birds at least tolerate the frigid weather. But what about plants? No fur or feathers. No moving out of the wind or digging a cozy burrow under the snow. What keeps trees and bushes from literally freezing to death in the cold mid-winter?

Read More

The Trees and I

Rumination

In the mid-1970s I had a remarkable experience while walking in ancient forests on the west side of the Cascade Mountains of Washington. . . I was grasping an essential truth that was based on familiar science (relating to genes), but the nature of the grasping had a quality that I was not able to put into words, and that, even if I could, a scientific journal would probably never allow to be published on its pages.

Read More

Tags:

1 5 6 7 8