In school botany, we are taught to identify types of leaf and their arrangement with respect to the branch. Then there are leaves that we draw and paint. There are leaves that we chew and see in the animated world as that of the Avatar. There are leaves in fairy tales. Leaves symbolise spirituality and leaves. Leaves also depict our moods. The leaf colour and the mesh on its surface are also of great interest to the keen eye.
When we see a tree full of leaves, a sudden pleasure fills our vision. The great volume of green chlorophyll filled artistic green shapes is a great site. Then there are pigmented leaves that come in so many shades of red, green, yellow and brown. The dry ones acquire a different image.
Our designs have drawn inspiration from nature in umpteen ways. Leaves have not only taught us design but have also taught economy of space utilisation. How in a very limited space you avail the maximum area for exposure. So, while it may not be sensible to build whole trees with solar panels, given available space, it may so be needed someday to build artificial trees. Trees that not only generate food for themselves but at the same time also produce or convert energy for ourselves.
Think of a tree with intelligence, without underestimating the amount of intelligence that it takes for a tree to become one from a seed. Scientist Jagadish Chandra Bose, wiki states, demonstrated that various stimuli – wounds, chemical agents – were of electrical, not chemical, nature. Bose also studied the effects of microwaves on plant tissues. The reason to draw this reference here is only to highlight our interest in understanding our silent life-support systems.
So, how about an intelligent tree? A tree that has strong energy conversion mechanism, connects to the rest of the world understands and consciously takes several decisions and yet be organic. Intelligence that calculates parameters around itself like water-level underground, oxygen level, level of polluting gases, et cetera. Trees that store data and share data too and would be in a position to offer to connect us to a seamless server.
If organic humans can have such great potential after evolving, why won’t a tree be smarter someday? I am also fascinated. Remember how in James Cameron’s Avatar neural network connected to a tree was depicted? Well, it is a creative infection for the ideating minds!
But to send you a message, I may be happier to just connect to a tree than utilising an infinite mesh of wires and storm of waves that block spaces around us twenty-four into seven!