The Happening on a real life scale…

The Happening is a movie written and directed by the very well known M. Knight Shyamalan. However, it is ridiculous.  It starts out rather interesting with Mark Wahlberg’s character teaching his high school science class, being funny, and asking for theories on why all the bees have gone missing. Coincidentally while this talk is taking place a bunch of people in Central Park begin to act very strange and actually end up finding very creative ways to kill themselves. School is released midday and the kids go home, but more bad things start happening in the city. People think there’s some kind of terrorist attack so they flee the city, but all hell breaks loose throughout the northeast. People are just going crazy and killing themselves all over the place is because of the plants. The pants are releasing chemicals to mess with the self-preservation center in the human brain and people are just killing themselves.

That’s where the movie gets ridiculous. Plants can’t communicate with humans and tell us to kill ourselves. Even if they could release a chemical to turn off our self-preservation center, it isn’t going to cause us to kill ourselves it will just make it a lot more difficult for the sympathetic nervous system to kick in and help with the flight of fight response, the response that either causes us to run from danger or face it, an instinctual response.

Just because plants can’t necessarily tell us to kill each other doesn’t mean they can’t do other forms of communication. Plants can communicate amongst themselves. One group of plants when attacked by some sort of herbivore can release chemicals that attract predatory insects to eat the herbivores or that make the plants themselves less tasty. However, intercommunication between species isn’t great. Plants can communicate with close relative but the more distantly they are related the less communication that can occur. Chemicals released in exorbitant amounts can affect one species immensely while not affecting a more distantly related plant at all.

However communication between related plants is really good. This could be due to a need to further one specific plant’s genes. One plant can’t help everybody out. Survival of the fittest as Darwin put it.  Being family specific with their reactive chemicals keeps eavesdroppers from listening in and give plants with similar genes a better chance of survival. Even when planted in a too small pot, according to Susan Dudley, related plant species won’t fight as hard to monopolize space as they will with an unrelated species.

So, the only possible way for The Happening to happen would be if plants could communicate extraordinarily well and quickly between species, something that at this point in our worlds evolution just isn’t possible at all. A pine tree can’t communicate with grass and tell it to release the same chemical needed to cause people to go crazy. A chemical not even known to exist. Oh and plants would have to communicate through the Ocean too. I get they are angry for us polluting their world, but really how can a tree in the American northeast communicate with a tree in Paris?

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn23164-plants-listen-more-closely-to-kin-than-strangers.html

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About harleylizabeth

I'm a Freshman at Queens University Of Charlotte in, you guessed it!, Charlotte, North Carolina. This a Blog about Biology specifically Biology 208.
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