Whole Leaf Tobacco

Ancient Tobacco Seeds

CoralReefs

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In several places, I have seen "Ancient Tobacco Seeds" sold which are advertised as being descendents from plants grown from seeds found in a 1000 year old burial site in Vancouver. Anyone know anything about this?

I am very skeptical of this story, I searched around trying to find any references which might give some information but all I could find was websites selling it with stories that went like: "I got this from a friend of a friend....". Searching on JSTOR and other publication databases turned up nothing. For kicks, since they did not cost anymore than any other varieties, when I ordered my vegetable seeds for the year I added a packet of these ancient tobacco seeds. Only thing worth noting at this point is (I have not sown any yet) is that they are significantly larger than any other variety I have ever seen (All of which have been N. tabacum varieties).

Here is a link with some (very little) information:
http://www.saltspringseeds.com/catalog/index.cfm?categoryid=101

I bought them from a different company, I chose this link because it gives slightly more information that the one I got them from.

[Edit]
Now, if someone does have some evidence that they are in fact legit.... that would be pretty damn cool.
 

deluxestogie

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I can't conceive of climatic conditions in the Northwest allowing the preservation of seed of any kind. Perhaps in the desert Southwest, there would be a slim chance of viable seed. (By slim, I mean really slim.) Having failed, so far, to germinate tobacco seed that is 60 years old and 130 years old, the thought of 1000 year old seed certainly makes one wonder. Also, what container 1000 years ago would have allowed such preservation?

N. rustica seed is much larger than the seed of N. tabacum.

Bob
 

CoralReefs

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I can't conceive of climatic conditions in the Northwest allowing the preservation of seed of any kind. Perhaps in the desert Southwest, there would be a slim chance of viable seed. (By slim, I mean really slim.) Having failed, so far, to germinate tobacco seed that is 60 years old and 130 years old, the thought of 1000 year old seed certainly makes one wonder. Also, what container 1000 years ago would have allowed such preservation?

N. rustica seed is much larger than the seed of N. tabacum.

Bob
Yeah, I decided to take a moment and search around a little more. There seems to be some conflicting information now. Some sources say they were found at a burial site in Vancouver, some say Michigan- I get a sense that both sources are referring to the same seeds. I have read they were in clay pots.

I searched around on JSTOR quite a bit for a reference but did not see anything obvious. I just quickly checked sciencedirect for fun (searched: "ancient tobacco" and "ancient tobacco germinated" all fields), nothing in the first few screens that I noticed. If I get bored I will send out some emails and dig around (like i said, if in the very unlikely case that these turn out to be legit, that would be damn cool). Personally, I think someone is yanking people around. Usually when the product descriptions starts with "I got these from a friend who knew a guy...", it suspect from the start. Sometimes, when I see claims like this, I catch myself wondering if these rumors were started as a sociology student's senior project or something- maybe they are reading these forums and taking notes.
 

CoralReefs

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Hmmmm.... although....

WOW!!!

My curiosity got the best of me. I did a quick computation. If the half life of tobacco seeds is in fact 10 years (all other variables held constant), that gives us an exponential decay rate of -ln(1/2)/10 = -0.069315

This means that if we assume that the half life remains constant and does not decay over time (which would make the computation even more dramatic), to statistically end up with 10 viable seeds left after 1000 years, they would have had to bury 12676506002282294014967032053760 seeds in that burial site! That's to get 10 viable seeds!

(Again, this is assuming non-extraordinary situations)
 

CoralReefs

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Hmmm....

Now that I think about it, lets put that in terms of weight. One nursery lists on their site that the weight of N. rustica seeds is about 130,000 to the ounce. That means, they would have had to have buried (the the people who unearthed the seeds would have had to have dealt with):

9.75 * 10^25 ounces, or 6.09447*10^24 pounds of seeds!

Wow, that is literally more than a mole of pounds of seeds!!!!! No friken way these are what they say they are, this is practically impossible!!

Hmm....

I wonder what surface are of the Earth these guys would cover if they were layed out in a single layer:

I would have to go home and measure a seed, but I think a cross sectional area of 1mm^2 is not a bad estimate. Now, lets assume they are perfectly layed out with no gaps between them (this will give us a lower bound): Then the surface area of the earth they would cover is 12676506002282294014967032053760 mm^2 which amounts to (in normal speak

Given that 1 millimeter^2 = 3.86102159 × 10[SUP]-13[/SUP] square miles, that means we would have a surface area of 4.89443 *10^18 square miles. That wont even cover the earth. Lets see what that would cover....

Surface area of the earth: 1.969399*10^8 miles^2 which means if you did pile them in layers that covered the entire earth, you would have 2.48524*10^10 layers. At 1mm thick per layer, that gives you a total height of close to 15,442.5654 miles (Its actually a little less than that, I would have to use some calculus to figure that out....) That is about the length of two Earths put together side by side.

Are my numbers right here? This is nuts!

Yeah, highly doubt those seeds are 1000 years old. Nope!
 

CoralReefs

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Ok, not to beat a dead horse here, but I am kind of having fun with this. I just computed how many seeds they would have had to bury to get ONE VIABLE SEED:

1267650600228229401496703205376 seeds nor roughly 6.09447*10^23 pounds of seed

Still more than a mole of pounds of seeds! FOR ONE SEED!
 

deluxestogie

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And the 10 years is not really a half-life. Probably 3 or 4 years would be a 50% decrease in fertility. Also, that is only if the seed is stored in ideal conditions, rather than in a clay pot in a grave in the Northwest (or upper Mid-West).

So the numbers should actually come out worse. A homework assignment is to figure out how many tobacco plants would be required to produce all the needed seeds, assuming 240,000 seeds per parent plant. This will count toward your final grade.

Bob
 

CoralReefs

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And the 10 years is not really a half-life. Probably 3 or 4 years would be a 50% decrease in fertility. Also, that is only if the seed is stored in ideal conditions, rather than in a clay pot in a grave in the Northwest (or upper Mid-West).

So the numbers should actually come out worse. A homework assignment is to figure out how many tobacco plants would be required to produce all the needed seeds, assuming 240,000 seeds per parent plant. This will count toward your final grade.

Bob
To get 1 seed: 5.28188*10^24 plants
To get 10 seeds: 5.28188*10^25 plants
 

CoralReefs

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Hmmm....

Now that I think about it, lets put that in terms of weight. One nursery lists on their site that the weight of N. rustica seeds is about 130,000 to the ounce. That means, they would have had to have buried (the the people who unearthed the seeds would have had to have dealt with):

9.75 * 10^25 ounces, or 6.09447*10^24 pounds of seeds!
...
Ha! Ok, this is really good:

If you take the mass of the earth to be 5.9742 × 10[SUP]24[/SUP] kilograms

Then converting that into pounds (yeah ok, physical scientists, don't shoot me for this!) we get that the "mass" of the Earth in "pounds"(technically a measure of force not mass) is 1.31708565 × 10[SUP]25[/SUP]. Given that we would have to bury 6.09447*10^24 pounds of seeds to get 10 viable seeds out, that means our buried seeds would have to have total weight about 46% of the total mass of the entire Earth!!
 

NRustica

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Ok, not to beat a dead horse here, but I am kind of having fun with this. I just computed how many seeds they would have had to bury to get ONE VIABLE SEED:

1267650600228229401496703205376 seeds nor roughly 6.09447*10^23 pounds of seed

Still more than a mole of pounds of seeds! FOR ONE SEED!
Of course those are just probablities not necessarily actualities.
 

CoralReefs

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Of course those are just probablities not necessarily actualities.
Yes, those are probabilities not actualities- in the same sense that if someone walked up to you and told you they put a cup of boiling water in a 1000 degree oven on a hot summer day and it spontaneously froze, you would likely be skeptical at best(I would hope at least). Technically the laws of physics do in fact allow for the possibility of such an event. Its certainly possible- but is it probable (assuming nothing else out of the ordinary)? I would not put my money on it. If someone claimed it happened- I would want some evidence beyond their word (and if they provided it, the two of us would likely publish a paper together and win Nobel Prizes or Fields Medals or something like that).

(Of course it is true that technically, probability really has different meaning a posteriori- it can be useful in evaluating the plausibility of something having occured so long as it is recognized that a posteriori- probability loses its meaning- which I suspect is the point you are raising and it is a very very good point indeed. That can be a tight rope sometimes...).
 

Hasse SWE

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It's really funny to see every thing people come up with just to sell some seed. That page is down but next year they come up with a new story. Question is why the ain't just telling a true story of the variant they selling, every tobacco have their story to tell and don't need to be laying about.
 

Hasse SWE

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Yes it's a old tread but it's true there always comes stories like that.. One story better than the next..
 

chuditch

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I have some marvellous seeds I just came into possession of that for a fair and equitable price I am prepared to share. I am assured that this seeds will grow to a monstrous height so should have some really gigantic leaves on them and one plant will provide all the leaves that you will need. I was assured of this by the man who swapped me for a cow I was taking to market. He was raving on about them being magical but I assume he was meaning how big they grow.
 
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