Friday, June 23, 2006

Beautiful Nectars of life

Have you ever observed that some plants produces nectar to attract insects while others produce venom to kill ? The question is, how do these plants find out that what they are going to make turns out as nectar and not venom ?

Suppose today some of the plants decide to perform pollination using cats. If previously plants were attracting butterflies and other insects using their nectar and aroma for pollination, they now need to prepare good cat food and fragrances for attracting the cats.

Suppose I'm the person trying to prepare good cat food to attract a cat. I get some fish, some milk, some flavour, mixes it and cooks it. Now if the cat eats it, I know i made a good cat food. Instead if I boiled my leather shoes, added some spice and gave it to the cat, it might reject it. And I know I made a bad cat food and I try something different the next time. For me preparing a cat food is as easy as going to the grocery shop and picking different things and trying it out.

In the case of plants they just cannot pick the fish, milk etc from a grocery shop. They have to prepare everything from scratch, right from preparing the sugar molecules to amino acids.. They have to do all the permutations and combinations and finally come up with the end product. And above all, they have no clue as to whether the cats might like it.

The example of plants attracting cats was given to shift the time of reference to the present. Now lets go back where we started. How did the plants start producing nectar ? What did they have to start with ? How did they know that what they are going to start with is indeed what they should be starting with ? In the beginning, how did they know that what they are going to produce is going to attract insects and not repel them ? How did the plants produce something when they even didn't know what it should be like ??

It might be sheer luck, or it might be trial and error, or it might be the evolutionary intelligence that you gained. Or again, it might be that someone told them to do so. But then, thats the beauty of life.


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