The tomato plant sensed the China earthquake?SIR -- We observed unique electrical signals from the tomato plant three days prior to the China earthquake on May 12, 2008, as in Fig. 1a. We are the first to observe such electrical signals. They are different from all the known electrical signals.
Fig. 1a Electrical signals from the tomato plant for the China 8.0 earthquake on May 12, 2008, with low-frequency (< 0.1 Hz) signals filtered out.
Recently we recorded similar signals for two local earthquakes with other two tomato plants.
Fig. 1b Electrical signals from the tomato plant for the Ilan 6.0 earthquake on June 2, 2008, with low-frequency (< 0.1 Hz) signals filtered out.
Fig. 1c Electrical signals from the tomato plant for the Ilan 4.5 earthquake on July 12, 2008, with low-frequency (< 0.1 Hz) signals filtered out.
For comparison, the following are signals on ordinary days.
Fig. 1d Electrical signals from the tomato plant on ordinary days (May 23~26, 2008).
The tomato plant generates electrical signals in response to flame, ice or mechanical wounding1. Typical electrical signals for the tomato plant are with frequencies of 0~0.02 Hz, with amplitudes of 5~50 mV and last for half an hour to one hour.
Our new electrical signals were with frequencies of 0~12 Hz, with amplitudes of 3~80 mV and lasted for five days
Our experimental method was similar to Dziubińska’s2, with some differences:
1. We used a tomato plant 75 cm high, about three months old.
2. We used 0.2 mm copper wire as piercing electrodes.
3. We used the Singa XctionView II data acquisition system, with 100 MΩ input resistance for each electrode.
4. Our Faraday cage was open and unshielded in the front (southern) side.
5. We recorded only one channel, measuring the potential difference between the tomato plant and the soil.
6. Our sampling rate was 100 Hz, with a DC~20 Hz band pass filter.
7. We filtered out the low-frequency (< 0.1 Hz) signals by Matlab.
Concurrently, there were other precursors for the earthquake: 50% concentration drop of the ionosphere above the earthquake area3, crocodiles roaring in Taiwan three days prior to the earthquake (the crocodiles also roared seven days prior to the 921 earthquake in Taiwan on September 21, 1999). They are consistent with our results.
The mechanism for the tomato plant to generate electrical signals for a big earthquake is unknown. Possibly it sensed the ionosphere concentration drop or something else. Ikeya’s research suggests there is a strong electrical field prior to a big earthquake that animals and plants can feel and respond to. 4
We propose to monitor the tomato plant’s electrical signals to predict big earthquakes. This could be life-saving in the future. We need further experiments to verify it.
Yung-Sen Lin, Kai-Hsiung Hsu
Department of Biomechatronic Engineering,
National Ilan University,
1, Sec. 1, Shen-Lung Road, I-Lan, 260, Taiwan, ROC.
1. Fromm, J. & Lautner, S. Electrical signals and their physiological significance in plants. Plant, Cell and Environment 30, 249–257 (2007).
2. Dziubińska H, Trębacz K & Zawadzki T. Transmission route for action potentials and variation potentials in Helianthus annuus L. J. Plant Physiol. 158, 1167–1172 (2001).
3. Taiwan satellite records change in ionosphere before Sichuan quake. http://www.monstersandcritics.com/news/asiapacific/news/article_1405700.php/Taiwan_satellite_records_change_in_ionosphere_before_Sichuan_quake (2008).
4. Ikeya M, Matsuda T & Yamanaka C. Reproduction of mimosa and clock anomalies before earthquakes. Proc. Japan Acad., 74(B), 60-64 (1998).
Name: Yung-Sen Lin
Address: Department of Biomechatronic Engineering, National Ilan University, 1, Sec. 1, Shen-Lung Road, I-Lan, 260, Taiwan, ROC.
Mobile phone: 886-910-149-192