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Venus flytrap: Math and logic in nature

18 Feb 2016  | Steve Taranovich

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Dr. Hedrich found that electrical signals were produced by biochemical changes and from a process which started very early in the plant's life. "A single cell can be electrically excited," commented Hedrich.

The Venus flytrap is nature's simple, primitive mechanism with an electrical system and computing engine that can do simple Math! This plant has been using electricity and logic eons ago before man ever conceived electricity's concept. There is an entire discipline in science called The Distributed Trigger Counting (DTC) Problem that is based upon the simple Venus flytrap mechanism. Reference 1 has tackled this problem and created an algorithm for multiple triggers (figures 1 and 2).

Figure 1: Here is a simple network topology of five processes (Image courtesy of Reference 1).

Figure 2: A DTC algorithm for receiving w triggers (Image courtesy of reference 1).

Perhaps mankind should take some more lessons from the simplicity of nature in other areas; there are certainly many cases in which we have done so in science and engineering. Can you name some?

Observation is the key; analysis of a basic system and expanding upon it can lead to great creativity and solutions to improve our existence on this planet called Earth.


Reference
1 Efficient Distributed Trigger Counting Algorithms for Dynamic Network Topology, C. Chang, J. Tsai, IEEE Transactions on Signal Processing 2015


About the author
Steve Taranovich is a senior technical editor at EDN with 41 years of experience in the electronics industry. Steve received his MSEE from Polytechnic University, Brooklyn, New York, and his BEEE from New York University, Bronx, New York. He is also chairman of the Educational Activities Committee for IEEE Long Island. His expertise is in analogue, RF and power management with a diverse embedded processing education as it relates to analogue design from his years at Burr-Brown and Texas Instruments. Steve was a circuit design engineer for his first 16 years in electronics. He then served as one of the first field application engineers with Burr-Brown Corp and also became one of their first global account managers, traveling to Europe, India and China.


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