In an interesting experiment at Amherst College (Massachusetts), a band of steel was secured around a young squash. As the squash grew, it exerted pressure on the steel band. Researchers wanted to know just how strong a squash could be, so they measured the force it brought to bear on its constraints. They initially estimated that it might be able to exert as much as 500 pounds of pressure.
In one month, the squash was pressing 500 pounds. In two months it was applying 1,500 pounds and, when it reached 2,000 pounds, researches had to strengthen the steel band. The squash eventually brought 5,000 pounds of pressure to bear on the band – when the rind split open.
They opened the squash and found it inedible. It was full of tough, course fibres that had grown to push against the constraining obstacle. The plant required great amounts of nutrients to gain the strength needed to break its bonds, and its roots extended out about 80,000 feet in all directions. The squash had single-handedly taken over the garden space!
By Steve Goodier
Thanks to WITandWISDOM(tm) – January 25, 2000 [email protected]