Gödel's Lost Letter and P=NP


Martin Howard and Alison Smith are research scientists at the John Innes Centre (JIC) in Norwich, England. JIC was founded as a horticultural institution by the philanthropist John Innes in 1910, and is today one of several independent institutes affiliated to the University of East Anglia. Howard and Smith are the senior scientists on a paper that claims to show that plants can perform arithmetic division. Their co-authors are Antonio Scialdone, Sam Mugford, Doreen Feike, Alastair Skeffington, Philippa Borrill, and Alexander Graf.

Today I thought we might look at their claim and see if theory can shed any light on it.

Their paper is titled “Arabidopsis plants perform arithmetic division to prevent starvation at night,” and appeared last June in the on-line journal eLife. It attracted quite a bit of general press coverage, and also created some not very nice comments by the paper’s readers. The…

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