Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Slime Molds solve mazes

Some organisms lend themselves well to horror movie plots. Slime Molds are among them. In the manga movie Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, a mutated slime mold ravages towns and cities. Biologists tend to like slime molds because they are hard to classify, and there are vibrant arguments still happening about where they fit in the tree of life.

In a very straightforward experiment, Japanese scientists have shown how a slime mold will negotiate a maze in an efficient, or intelligent, manner to maximize their access to food. Here is a quote from the above article:

Reporting in the journal Nature, Toshiyuki Nakagaki from the Bio-Mimetic Control Research Centre in Nagoya showed that a slime mould negotiated the shortest route between two exits in a maze, avoiding three longer paths.

"This remarkable process of cellular computation implies that cellular materials can show a primitive intelligence," Dr Nakagaki said.

Enjoy continued surprises from the more rudimentary forms of life on this planet,


[via Marianna, photo credit in linked article]

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