14 of the best reactions to this bizarre study about spinach sending emails

14 of the best reactions to this bizarre study about spinach sending emails
John Moore/Getty Images

Scientists have taught spinach how to send emails.

Well, that’s the simple way of explaining it.

What actually happened was that a group of engineers at MIT successfully transformed spinach plants into sensors capable of detecting explosive materials in groundwater using carbon nanotube technology.

The spinach can communicate this information back to the scientists wirelessly: when their rolls detect nitroaromatics, the nanotubes in their leaves emit a signal that is picked up by infrared cameras. These, in turn, send an email to alert the scientists.

As amazing as this research is, there’s just one tiny detail that needs to be added: it was completed in 2016. In fact, it was widely reported on then after its initial publication in the scientific journal Nature.

So why is everyone suddenly obsessed with this spinach now?

Maybe it’s because we’re all stuck at home and talking to our house plants is starting to sound like a good idea.

But really, it’s probably because of this article, published today in Euro News, with the headline “scientists have taught spinach to send emails”. When you put it like that, it does suddenly become pretty great territory for jokes.

A lot of jokes.

The study’s leaders, Min Hao Wong and Juan Pablo Giraldo, continue to study plant science and nanotechnology.

Since publishing his initial research, Wong has gone on to found Plantea, a startup based around the technology he helped to develop at MIT.

As far as we can tell, neither of them spend any of their time actually emailing the spinach back.

The Conversation (0)