Are plants receptive to music? Tons of school science fair projects have been done about the subject, and honestly, when I read something about it, my skeptical antenna is on alert… at first, it sounds more like some new age ineptitude, but there are some strange and interesting results nevertheless.
Chris Beardshaw, an award-winning English gardener who has a BBC TV series, ‘Gardeners’ World’, just declared on Radio 4 that his greenhouse plants grew much better with Black Sabbath’s music. He actually did a scientific experiment ‘with four glasshouses with different sorts of music in to see what happened to the plants’, and even had a control as it should be the case for any valid experiment:
‘We had one that was silent – that was a control house – and we had one that was played classical music, we had one that was played Cliff Richard and we had one that was played Black Sabbath.’
‘It was alstroemerias we were growing and we bombarded these glasshouses with sound for the life of the plant.’
The study was conducted in a very scientific manner as one of Beardshaw’s students wanted to write a dissertation based on the effects of music on plants:
‘We were measuring incidence of pest and disease, we were measuring inter-nodal distance, we were measuring the floriferous nature of them and that sort of thing and so the one that was grown as a control house grew really well as you'd expect.’
And the results are in:
‘The one that was grown with classical music — a soft, almost a caressing of the plant when it is hit with that sort of soundwave — those grew slightly shorter because of the soundwaves bombarding them and were slightly more floriferous and there was slightly less pest and disease.
But amazingly, Black Sabbath’s music did marvelously well:
‘And the ones with Black Sabbath – great big, thumping noise, rowdy music – they were the shortest, but they had the best flowers and the best resistance to pest and disease.’
Whereas something funny happened in the Cliff Richard’s greenhouse:
‘The alstroemerias in the Cliff Richard house all died. Sabotage was suspected, but we couldn't prove it.’
Sabotage? Isn’t it precisely a Black Sabbath’s album? I suspect there were some Cliff Richard haters among the gardeners! But seriously, is it possible? Music or sound is vibration, and there are some studies that show a connection between vibrations and protein synthesis in plants so who knows? Plants are very sensible to their environment, to nutrients and predators, and there are so many factors that could come into play, but there was a similar experiment done for an episode of Mythbusters, and they basically found the same results, ‘the plants in the greenhouse with the recording of intense death metal grew best of all’! So we may actually be onto something there!
There is even a physicist named Joel Sternheimer, who has created a series of melodies to trigger growth, as he pretends to have found a method for determining the musical notes associated with an amino acid sequence (which builds a protein) … this sounds a little cuckoo to me but we definitively need to study this much more. Kids, if you aren't too busy this summer, here is some interesting homework, I wonder which genre of metal plants prefer, Trash metal? Black metal? Death metal?
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