Sleep and slime moulds

2008-08-28

in Daily updates, Films and movies, Geek stuff, Science

Since I spent the last fourteen hours sleeping, I don’t have much of interest to convey right now.

As a consolation, here is a time lapse video of slime moulds and fungus growing. I have always found slime moulds rather fascinating. They start of as single-celled, bacteria-eating organisms resembling amoebas. If two with matching mating types encounter one another, they can form a zygote. That, in turn, becomes a macroscopic organism with many nuclei, but no membranes between cells – an “interconnected network of protoplasmic strands.” Once this has eaten everything nearby, fruiting bodies form that disperse spores. These hatch into single-celled bacteria-eating eukaryotes once again.

One of the more odd and charming sections from the Wikipedia entry on slime moulds is this:

In 2006, researchers at the University of Southampton and the University of Kobe reported that they had built a six-legged robot whose movement was remotely controlled by a Physarum slime mold. The mold directed the robot into a dark corner most similar to its natural habitat.

It is disconcerting to consider that an entity consisting of an amalgamation of amoebas can apparently display something akin to preferences when put in control of a robot (though I think the ‘control’ just consisted of watching how the slime mould moved and copying it). This article has a picture of the robot.

In any case, I am hoping that my period of hibernation will reset my brain. During the last few days, it has sunken into something akin to – but nonetheless more profound than – the normal August lull which permeates Ottawa.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

. August 28, 2008 at 11:49 am

Slime mould solves maze puzzle

Japanese scientists claim that amoeba-like organisms have a primitive form of intelligence, following an experiment where a slime mould found its way through a maze.

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.

Litty August 28, 2008 at 6:05 pm

Growing mushrooms are so, so phallic.

zoom August 29, 2008 at 6:06 pm

Erotic!

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