Friday, January 22, 2010

What you can learn from a slime mold

(And it's not something icky and scary like you'd encounter in Dungeons and Dragons. Also, note that they used the word "design." ;^)
clipped from

Slime design mimics Tokyo's rail system

This is the network formation in <i>Physarum polycephalum</i>. (A) At t =0, a small plasmodium of <i>Physarum</i> was placed at the location of Tokyo in an experimental arena bounded by the Pacific coastline (white border) and supplemented with additional food sources at each of the major cities in the region (white dots). (B to F) The plasmodium grew out from the initial food source with a contiguous margin and progressively colonized each of the food sources. Behind the growing margin, the spr
Image courtesy of Science/AAAS

"Some organisms grow in the form of an interconnected network as part of their normal foraging strategy to discover and exploit new resources," Tero writes in the report. "Physarum is a large, single-celled amoeboid organism that forages for patchily distributed food sources... [It] can find the shortest path through a maze or connect different arrays of food sources in an efficient manner with low total length yet short average minimum distance between pairs of food sources, with a high degree of fault tolerance to accidental disconnection."

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