I am not a science person…that is not a surprise I am sure. But, I have to admit that being a student in such a diverse program has sparked a certain curiousity about many things that may come under this topic.

Slime Mold for one. I didn’t know anything about it before last Fridays’ Understanding Systems class. Apparently, Slime Mold is a very intelligent organism despite lacking a brain. I won’t try to describe the scientific and biological traits of the slime mold, read about it here. So, where am I going with this? Scientists recently conducted a study using slime mold to illustrate the amazing capabilities of this ‘creature’.  They re-created the patterns of cities around Tokyo, and charged slime mold to figure out the most efficient way to get around the city. They designed the subway system, and amazingly, the results were almost identical to that of the complicated system designed by a team of engineers over a significant period of time. It took slime mold 26 hours by the way to achieve the same results. Study coauthor Mark Fricker of the University of Oxford, “In contrast, the slime mold has no central brain or indeed any awareness of the overall problem it is trying to solve, but manages to produce a structure with similar properties to the real rail network.” Read More

“When presented with oat flakes arranged in the pattern of Japanese cities around Tokyo, brainless, single-celled slime molds construct networks of nutrient-channeling tubes that are strikingly similar to the layout of the Japanese rail system, researchers from Japan and England report Jan. 22 in Science. A new model based on the simple rules of the slime mold’s behavior may lead to the design of more efficient, adaptable networks, the team contends.”

This new model based on the behaviour of slime mold, may very well “lead to the design of more efficient, adaptable networks, the team contends.”

Amazing.

Science News
Wired

Images: Science/AAAS

Advertisements