Tuesday, November 01, 2016

बांस Bamboo Mast

Bamboo has many legends and sayings associated with it, especially in asian cultures. In hindi (हिंदी) in India we say "Na rehaga baans, na bajegi bansuri", that is there is no hope of hearing sweet reed melodies if the bamboo stops growing. Many chinese charachteristics of strenghth, flexibility and virtue have been attributed by philosophers and poets to bamboo 
(the taller the bamboo grows, the more it bends ~ i.e. truly great people are humble).
From the perspective of the premise of this blog of patterns in nature, Bamboo mast (मास्ट) flowering or the mass synchronized flowering of these plants at the same time, with a long gap (30-120 years) counts with the big mysteries of "snychronization", with an added evolutionary and ecological context. The current ideas suggest a this mass flowering and seeding results in overwhelming the seed eaters by synchronization, giving the plants a survival chance exceeding the normal. Add on to that, bamboos out of sync do not do as well. And in such a context, changes in flowering time can only be integer multiples of the existing period. These integer values can also be reduced to primes by integer factorization (the same thing that lies at the heart of RSA encryption). And add to it, there is the excitement of a plant-biological alarm clock, ticking away. 

Further reading:
1) Synchronization http://www.scholarpedia.org/article/Synchronization
2) Keeley, JE; Keeley, J.E.; W.J. Bond (1999). "Mast flowering and semelparity in bamboos: The bamboo fire cycle hypothesis". American Naturalist. 154 (3): 383–391 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10506551
3) Janzen, DH. (1976). "Why Bamboos Wait so Long to Flower". Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics. 7: 347–391. http://www.annualreviews.org/doi/10.1146/annurev.es.07.110176.002023

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