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Plants have been referred to as the “masters of chemistry”, and we know without a doubt that they have an impressive ability to adapt to the environment in ways that promote their growth. But what else do we know about plants? Do they have the ability to predict how their behavior might result in a particular outcome? Do they anticipate future events? Do they have goals? Are they sentient? At the Minimal Intelligence Lab, research on plant behavior is being carried out in an attempt to answer these questions–or at least gather as much information about plant behavior as possible. According to Paco Calvo from the Minimal Intelligence Lab, the only way to truly study plant growth and development is by slowing the timescale of observation to the speed at which plants develop and interact with their environment. In order to do this, the team has set up cameras that are programmed to capture photos of the plants every one to five minutes. After compiling the photos that are taken over the course of a few days, the researchers are able to observe the minutiae of plant behavior, uncovering interesting new information. Calvo joins the podcast to discuss the details of all this and more, including three plant models they’re studying in the lab, what kind of observations they’ve made, and the challenge of avoiding confirmation bias in this type of research.

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