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Engineers Learn from Slime Molds

Haeckel_Mycetozoa

The slime mold, a type of single-celled amoeboid organism, looks to be more of a smartypants than scientists previously thought. Why? Because these gooey blobs are actually capable of growing sophisticated networks in order to feed themselves. In experiments where slime molds were exposed to an array of food sources (think: a scattering of crumbs or cereal), they showed an unexpected ability to grow very efficient connections between feeding hubs. These web-like structures (you can view them here) even mimicked modern transportation networks, like the Tokyo subway system.

Engineers are now searching for this special “slime formula”, which could make it easier to design a variety of networks (from public transportation to the internet) more efficiently.

Check out some slime molds (and fungi) in action below:

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[NYT]

Above: an illustration of a variety of slime mold species, by Ernst Haekel (1904)

One Response to “Engineers Learn from Slime Molds”

  1. Very cool blog. I will be visiting often with my kids!

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