Suzanne Simard: How Do Trees Collaborate?

Environment: NPR


The Ted Radio hour from NPR. I'm a new. And for most kids around the country school is officially out of session, but unlike other summers, many kids and teens are stuck at home because of the coronavirus pandemic and so today. We've got an episode for everyone kids, adults, parents teams. You are all invited on this journey because we've invited a certain dad back on the show to share the coolest things. He's learned over the years here on the Ted. Radio Hour topics blow the minds of young and old and A. Mystery guest host. Can you please introduce yourself? It's the Ted Radio Segment. Is Hello. allthough guy well back, thank you. Okay, so guy, not only were you the host of this show until you so graciously handed over the reins to me, but you are also the host of rather popular podcast for kids right? Yeah, it's called. Wow, on the world. It's a journey through real scientific research sounds a little weird, but it's like a cartoon for the ear where me and my co host Mindy Thomas go on journeys into space and back in time and underwater and everywhere in between searching for incredible scientific discoveries, and it's this awful wonderful experience for us, and hopefully for the kids who listen to the show well, that includes my kids and we figured since. Since you and I are both home with our children this summer. We thought it'd be the perfect person to come on and curate a special summer show for the entire. Ted Radio Hour family and you have so kindly brought four of your favorite segments that you did the years. How did you even begin to choose which segments you were going to bring us? Well? I think like you probably experienced MINU, their lot of Ted talks that my kids love, and on a really inspired by, and there are some that you know of course are sort of over their heads right but I really want to bring segments that spoke to curiosity and. The sort of off that kids naturally have about the world, and so that's how we kind of came up with this. This collection and I will say I did feel that way about the first segment that you brought to us? This one is called. How do trees collaborate? Tell us about it. I love the segment so much So, basically, scientists for basically forever thought the trees competed against each other for resources right for for water and son. And nutrients and they figured that the tallest trees in the forest were the strongest trees right and make sense might but Suzanne Simard. The scientists that were about to hear from she totally changed the way that scientists now think about trees because it turns out, they don't compete at all. In fact, trees collaborate. They work together through this this mysterious underground superhighway there is an entire communication network happening under our feet. Let's listen. Forest. Ecologist Suzanne Simard had a hunch. Yes, that's right. That trees. Could Talk. Imagine like when you're walking through the forest you. Might you hear the crunching of the? Twigs under your feet in the rustling of the. But she thought. What if there's more going on because big chattering? Going on that we can't hear. that. They're attuned to each other. Now at the time. A team of scientists in England were wrapping up an experiment where they'd grown in the laboratory. These pine seedlings together in little route boxes that you could see through. And the scientists took two of these pine seedlings, these baby trees that were in the same box in the same dirt, and then they exposed one of these seedlings to a radioactive carbon dioxide, gas Kurban fourteen radioactive carbon, and what they found was that some of that radioactive gas, the carbon fourteen made its way into the second ceiling. You can visualize you could see. And so from this experiment it seemed that somehow these two plants in the same dirt. Or connected and I thought. Wow, maybe this is what's going on in my forest. Maybe Suzanne, smart thought, maybe all the trees in a forest or connected. In a kind of network. Lake are. or transportation system our social networks, and maybe she thought all of this was happening underground. When we walked through the forest. What we see as human beings, we just see these beautiful trees growing out of the ground, but we don't see that they're actually completely linked underground in this superhighway. So Suzanne decided to prove this underground network existed. She devised an experiment using some of the same radioactive gas. Geiger counter to measure it and a patch of Birch and for trees.

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