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Dendritic inversion

The forest of the upsideown
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Take one 3mx3mx3m concrete box. Leave top surface of box open. Cut a hole 30 cm diametre in base. Put box on 5m high stilts. Now take a sapling. (not sure what tree would be best, suggestions please) feed branches of sapling downwards through hole in box so roots are pointing up. Cover gaps between hole and trunk with mesh. Fill box with good soil and nutrients. Keep soil moist. Voila; upsideown tree. Why? Why not? Could make harvesting from orchards less work.

Can any one explain why this might not work?

Zircon, Sep 03 2002

NASA just don't know http://nai.arc.nasa...io_detail.cfm?ID=75
OK - its for growing trees in outer space. [PeterSilly, Sep 03 2002, last modified Oct 21 2004]

Yankee Magazine http://www.yankeema...iage/berkshires.php
Well, I guess it's baked then! [PeterSilly, Sep 03 2002, last modified Oct 04 2004]

Gravitropism http://koning.ecsu....y/gravitropism.html
Why this idea won't work, I'm afraid [Guy Fox, Sep 03 2002, last modified Oct 21 2004]

Baked-ish http://www.abcproje...pages/boabtree.html
The Boab, understandably called the upside-down tree by the aborignes. [DrCurry, Sep 04 2002, last modified Oct 21 2004]

Upside-down trees at MassMoCA http://www.offbeattravel.com/MoCA.html
For those of you who did not read (or doubted) PeterSilly's Yankee Magazine link, see Paragraph 7 for photographic proof of an installed artwork consisting of upside down trees at MassMoCA. [jurist, Sep 05 2002, last modified Oct 21 2004]

GFP bunny http://www.ekac.org/gfpbunny.html
Transgenic artwork [madradish, Sep 05 2002, last modified Oct 21 2004]


       I know *nothing* about horticulture or agriculture...or culute for that matter. But I would expect a plant to suffer in the same way as us... we don't like being upside down - blood to head and all that.
Jinbish, Sep 03 2002

       It won't work because trees (and other plants) know which way up they are. They have had to survive billions of years of landslides and other natural events that might turn them upside down, after all.   

       The Amateur Scientist column in Scientific American once had a great article on growing plants in weightless conditions on Earth (by slowly rotating the pots), but I can no longer find the link. According to the article, it takes plants about 30 seconds to respond to gravity changes (like being turned upside down).
DrCurry, Sep 03 2002

       [in ans to Z's q] The box would shade & etiolate the leaves? Water would log through the hole? The roots would burrow downwards and tie emselves in a knot?   

       But I think it can be done. Trees have dealt with worse. (German foresters have finally cut down that deciduous swastika inside the evergreen wood.)
General Washington, Sep 03 2002

       I would imagine that trees would, as Professor Madras says, detect gravity. If you plant beans upside down, if they manage to grow at all, their roots still go downwards and the shoots go upwards. Therefore your tree would still have its top poking out of the top of the box.
PeterSilly, Sep 03 2002

       Yeah, that's what I'd expect if you simply planted a seed upsidedown, that why I thought a sapling might be better. But I take all y'all's points about houw the tree in question would be significantly messed. For one thing I was thinking about how transpiration would be affected. The system has evolved to pull water up against gravity. I couldn't work out if the upsidedown thing would help or hinder this. In answer to [GW]'s point about the bow shading the tree; firstly the candidtate for inversion could be a young tree rather than a sapling (choosing one that has been marked-for-felling of course so as to not be carrying out the experiment on a perfectly happy tree that could go on living where it is.). Make the box a downward tapering pyramid shape. As long as the branches are big enough to protude from the bottom edge of the box the sun will have a better chance of getting on them.   

       Another idea would be to conduct the experiment in as high a latitude as possible (for the type of tree used.) this would mean that the sun was low on the horizon thus stopping the box's shadow from casting on the tree too much.
Zircon, Sep 04 2002

       Hewwo Wods - Since Guy Fox's wink doesn't woik, I'm awoiding this a cwoissant
thumbwax, Sep 04 2002

       Anything with mass generates gravity.
DrBob, Sep 04 2002

       Yes [DrB], but some things are less grave than others. Take [Rods] for instance...
PeterSilly, Sep 04 2002

       The wink don't woik? Hokay. Near as I can summarise, gravitropism (negative or positive) is the principle by which roots and shoots orient themselves with regard to gravity. If I recall correctly, a certain chemical (the linkee refers to auxin but I couldn't be arsed reading it too closely, to be honest) is produced by the plant to stimulate growth. Greater quantities of this gather in, say, the lower part of a horizontal branch, causing the lower half to grow faster and, in turn, causing the branch to curve upwards. A similar principle holds true in roots except that (I think) the roots act t'other way round. Either they're inhibited by the same chemical or stimulated by a different chemical - I don't remember. In any event, the upside-down tree's roots would turn around mid-pot and start growing down until eventually they worked their way through the mesh. I think.
Guy Fox, Sep 04 2002

       Well, it's certainly OK with me. I wouldn't want to run the risk of there being insufficient gravity. If it takes a few trees to make up the numbers, then so be it.
angel, Sep 04 2002

       Yeah I was uneasy about the idea of something generating gravity too. Don't things just 'have' gravity.
Zircon, Sep 04 2002

       I had Gravity once. She was rubbish!
DrBob, Sep 04 2002

       I had Gravity when I was sixteen. Don't you talk about my daughter like that, DrBob.
Guy Fox, Sep 04 2002

       //What if you could grow a tree in a constantly slowly rotating ball? //   

       I was wondering that, actually. Perhaps you could get the constantly curving roots and branches to grow into some sort of weird two-armed spiral-thing? Only thing is I can't see where the soil would go. Unless you could use some sort of bound mesh/muslin ball around the roots and have the stem and branches winding out from it.
Guy Fox, Sep 04 2002

       They have a plant growing in a revolving mesh ball in the UK's National Space Centre in Leicester. It's pretty much exactly as you describe it.
Zircon, Sep 04 2002

       [PeterSilly] beat me to it! I was going to mention the upside-down trees growing outside the Mass Museum of Modern Art. They seem to be doing okay.
TeaTotal, Sep 04 2002

       //What if you could grow a tree in a constantly slowly rotating ball? //   

       My high school biology class did just this with seedlings, you get a funny curvy confused plant. As regards gravitropism, Guy Fox is right. Auxin gradients will prevent this idea from working.   

       This thread reminds me of a paper I read on the gravitational sense of goldfish. I only remember it because of the funny pictures.
madradish, Sep 05 2002

       It constantly amazes me how often artists disprove scientists who insist "This or that can't be done because of Physical Reason X." Link (and a tip of the hat to Peter Silly) provided.   

       In that photo I see some relatively healthy looking saplings that have persisted for some time now. I'm not sure of the extraordinary and arcane alchemy they may be using to make these trees perform prettily for the art-seeking public, nor do I need to know to say that this idea is feasible, if not baked. Perhaps the museum curators upend the trees by use of hidden gears and axles each night after closing to give them a sense of normality, and then invert them again each morning before the paying public returns. Perhaps they feed the saplings a special proprietary dipsy sauce at regular watering intervals. Perhaps they swap out the trees for fresh victims (I mean, specimens) every 4th Wednesday. I don't know. I don't need to know. It's just art. And I like it for that.
jurist, Sep 05 2002

       // It constantly amazes me how often artists disprove scientists who insist "This or that can't be done because of Physical Reason X."//   

       Whooboy, that's a statement and a half. As a scientist and an artist I have watched the trend of art imitating science with some disquiet. GFP bunny was a good example of another biological 'artwork' that was done for the hell of it without due consideration of the consequences (link). Sure it's cool to look at, but is that justification enough for toying with a living thing.   

       Likewise, one of these trees has died already. The others don't look so healthy in recent photographs. When art is created to make a point or to encourage people to think about particular issues, then that's one thing. But this 'lets try this and see what happens' attitude worries me. And people worry about the ethics of scientists...
madradish, Sep 05 2002

       From the Alba [GFP bunny] Dialogues:"Alba is a healthy and gentle mammal. Contrary to popular notions of the alleged monstrosity of genetically engineered organisms, her body shape and coloration are exactly of the same kind we ordinarily find in albino rabbits. Unaware that Alba is a glowing bunny, it is impossible for anyone to notice anything unusual about her."   

       [madradish] I don't intend to read the 12 pages of footnotes and notations that appended this article merely to reply to you. I think you picked a subject that seemed incredibly inhumane, unnatural, and philosophically misguided to you. On the other hand, flourescent green rabbits may prove to be extremely Darwin-proof when introduced to ripe lettuce fields.   

       All in all, while I haven't personally visited the MassMoca trees since 2000 (and in fact, don't give their current state of health a great deal more thought than I gave to the grains consumed in my breakfast cereal this morning), I would have preferrred a link that proved their unhealthy states and unfortunate fates, rather than your simple assertion.
jurist, Sep 05 2002

       [jurist] I think you're misreading me somewhat. I don't object to GFP at all, we use it regularly in our laboratory. What I have a problem with is doing these things for the hell of it. Some of the things my co-workers do to mice are not pretty, but we have to get all of our experiments past a tough ethics committee, artists do not.   

       As regards what was said about Alba, similar things were said about the first cloned animals. Now we are finding that many of these animals have health problems later in life. I just don't think it's worth it. With the trees, I just noted from some photographs that they didn't look all that healthy. Being on a different continent, I can't visit them to verify. I'll find those links later when I have the time and post them if you wish.
madradish, Sep 05 2002

       [DrCurry], I have the ameteur scientist column archive on CD-ROM somewhere, I'll drop you a line if I can find it.
BinaryCookies, Sep 06 2002

       <sugar lump to bin> - that's my boy.
po, Sep 06 2002


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