Thursday, September 30, 2010

Experiments with Morning Glories, Magnets, and Magnetized Water, 2009

I've shown pictures of these experiments to a number of people recently, and many have asked me to put it up on the web.

I like blue, and blue flowers are relatively rare.  In 2009, I saw some packages of seeds for blue morning glories, and bought them immediately.

The same year, I'd bought some magnets.  I suddenly wondered, do magnets affect the growth of plants,  and was inspired to do an experiment.  Using the morning glory seeds from the same package, I tested for four different scenarios.

1 - Seeds, with powerful magnets inside the pot, and regular water.
2 - Seeds with regular water
3 - Seeds with magnetized water
4 - Seeds with regular water, with a purple plate under the pot

What is magnetized water?  It was water had been subjected to a magnetic stirrer.  I'd pour water into the container, and stir the water with a magnetic stirrer for about 15 minutes.  What is a purple plate?  I'd been told it was supposed to do all kinds of wonderful things, so I decided to include it in the tests.

The magnets I used were from KJ Magnetics, and are in this picture.

The sizes of the magnets are:  

2 of (3/4 diameter x 3/8 thick)
2 of (3/4 diameter x 1/8 thick) 
2 of (5/8 diameter x 1/8 thick)
2 of (1/2 diameter x 3/16 thick)

Each of the 3/4 diameter x 3/8 thick magnets alone have a pull force of 24 pounds. 

Since magnets will combine their forces and work as a single force, the combined pulling force of all of them was arguably stronger, although I had no way of measuring the force.  See how KJ Magnetics does their pull tests here:

When you work with these magnets, you have to be really careful, because it's easy for them to come together, pinch your fingers, and give you blood blisters, as if you'd hammered your finger or skin.  To separate magnets this powerful, I used a special separator utilizing leverage, similar to this one:

I put the magnets in a 35mm film container to waterproof them, and put the container into the soil.  The North pole faced up, closet to the sky.  And the south pole was down in the soil.  So, the south pole affected the roots, and the north pole was affecting the leaves.  When I first put the magnets in the soil, I didn't pay any attention to the poles.  But later, I read the book, The Magnetic Effect by Davis and Rawls, and they write that the poles give different effects.  

The earth and the seeds came from the same bags that I bought from Home Depot.  All the pots and saucers were the same model.  And they were all planted pretty close together, so the sun during the day was essentially the same for all the plants.  No fertilizers were ever used.

The first thing I noticed was that in the two pots that were associated with the magnets, the seeds sprouted first.  A few days faster than the other two pots.  

When I watered the plants, I'd overfill the pot, and water would collect in the saucer underneath.  This would evaporate over the day.  

I then noticed a really interesting pattern that I hadn't expected.  The following day, when I came to water the plants again, in the two saucers with the plants associated with the magnets, the water was not evaporated completely.  However, the other two saucers were completely dry!  This was intriguing.  The effect is seen in the same pictures, above.  

There is a company from Australia, called OmniEnviro. They make magnetic water treatment products for farming irrigation.  The irrigation water passes through the magnetic fields in their product.  The company claims that the farmers are getting better yields, using less water.  They are also doing studies with universities to verify the claims.  

I couldn't help thinking, Los Angeles is really built on a desert.  Water is a precious resource.  If magnetized water evaporates less than regular water, less water would be needed for irrigating lawns.  If Los Angeles could save 5% or 10% of the water used for landscaping, that would be significant!   

This evaporation pattern was only distinct after hot days.  If the water overflowed in all the saucers, and it was cloudy and cool, the next day, all the saucers had remaining water, and there was no distinct pattern.  

After a few weeks, I transplanted into bigger pots, and then noticed something else.  The morning glory is a vine.  After a few main leaves sprout, the vine follows.  The vine did not start growing like the other plants.   

And, the leaves on the plant with the magnets right in the pot, were smaller than the others, as you can see here: 

Davis and Rawls point out that the South Pole will help growth, but the North Pole will hinder it.  Given that the South pole was in the earth, this starts to make sense. 

At that point, I took the container of magnets out of the earth, and continued to give it regular water.  The vine subsequently started growing. 

I was showing some of my pictures to some people from Caltech.  One pointed out that the morning glory was a good plant to work with, because its length made for easy measurement of the growth of the plant.  Good idea.  Another said that the water would take on a hexagonal structure when it was subjected to the magnets.  Interesting.  Nothing like a number of smart people from different disciplines working on an issue. 

However, the morning glory presented some challenges. As the vines climbed, I bought four foot dowels and taped them to the small pots.  But the morning glories soon climbed to the top of the dowels.  And sometimes the dowels pulled through the tape, and fell over.    

Eventually, I transplant the plants down by the wash (concrete ditch). Three plants were spaced a number of feet apart from each other by the fence.  The fourth, the purple plate, I planted on a slope.  The amount of sun had variations between the plants.  And the soil was probably different in each location.  This was no longer even close to being a controlled experiment.  I did however, continue to give magnetic water to the plant that had always been receiving it. 
A few weeks later, some nice blue flowers bloomed.  

The first plant to bloom was the one that had the magnets in the body of the soil.  This was in spite of the fact that the vine did not grow until after the other vines had started growing.  Very interesting.

I read The Magnetic Effect by Davis and Rawls.  They did many, many experiments with magnets and healing.  

I will be the first to admit that this was not a very rigorous experiment.  There was only one pot of each type. To be really rigorous, there should have been at least 25 pots of each type.  And each vine should have been able to grow onto a stick that was awaiting it.  And measurements taken daily, and averaged.  The plants should not have been transplanted.  

And, experiments to check patterns of evaporation of magnetized versus regular water need to be more rigorous.  Exact amounts of water poured into saucers.  Track the temperature.  Measure the hours of bright sun, the amount of solar isolation, the time until complete evaporation.  Graph.  

However, I will say that the patterns looked strong enough to merit further investigation in a more rigorous manner.  

Other experiments to try, using regular water as the control, would be: 

Is there a relevant range of magnet power?  Ie.  Does a really small magnet affect the plants as much as a powerful magnet?   Are there diminishing returns?   Does too powerful a magnet eventually stunt the growth of the plants? 

What difference does the stirring make?  What if the water just sat in a container that had magnets on the bottom?   How many minutes or hours does the water need to be magnetized, before there is a difference?  After what time, is there diminishing returns? 

The magnetized water was dipole.  That is the water was subject to both the north and south poles of the magnet.   What would the differences be if the water was subjected to:  only the north pole, only the south pole, both poles?  

Here are some other links I've come across:

Science Fair Project:  Do Magnets Affect Radish Plant Growth?

Effect of magnetism on seeds and Plants

Growing plants with magnets

Magnetic seed treating device
United States Patent      4,188,751
Saruwatari     February 19, 1980
Inventors:      Saruwatari; Minoru (Calgary, Alberta, CA)
Appl. No.:     05/827,415
Filed:     August 24, 1977

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