Slime mold mimics Canadian highway network (w/ video)

March 26, 2012

Queen's University professor Selim Akl has provided additional proof to the theory that nature computes.

Dr. Akl (School of Computing) placed rolled oats on a map of Canada, covering the major . One urban area held the . The slime mold reached out for the food, creating thin tubes that eventually formed a network mirroring the Canadian highway system.

"By showing species as low as slime mold can compute a network as complex as the Canadian highway system, we were able to provide some evidence that nature computes," says Dr. Akl.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.

Moving forward, Dr. Akl would like to collect more examples to support his claim that nature computes. He explains, for example, that the leaf of a plant uses 99 per cent of the light it receives from the sun while the best engineered have an of only 35 per cent. Research into this area could lead to important practical applications.

Dr. Akl's study, co-authored by Andrew Adamatzky (University of the West of England, United Kingdom) is being published in the International Journal of Natural Computing Research.

Explore further: Slime design mimics Tokyo's rail system

Related Stories

Slime design mimics Tokyo's rail system

January 21, 2010

What could human engineers possibly learn from the lowly slime mold? Reliable, cost-efficient network construction, apparently: a recent experiment suggests that Physarum polycephalum, a gelatinous fungus-like mold, might ...

Organizing the slime mold

March 14, 2011

( -- Cells at the tip of the slime mold's fruiting body organize into an epithelial layer and secrete proteins as do some animals cells.

Slime mold prefers sleeping pills

June 13, 2011

In a new paper published in Nature Precedings, Andrew Adamatzky from the University of the West of England shows that slime molds like Physarum polycephalum prefers sleeping pills and their sedative effects over their standard ...

Japan scientists hope slime holds intelligence key

December 28, 2011

A brainless, primeval organism able to navigate a maze might help Japanese scientists devise the ideal transport network design. Not bad for a mono-cellular being that lives on rotting leaves.

Recommended for you

AI machine achieves IQ test score of young child

October 6, 2015

Some people might find it enough reason to worry; others, enough reason to be upbeat about what we can achieve in computer science; all await the next chapters in artificial intelligence to see what more a machine can do ...

Dutch create world's largest man-made wave

October 5, 2015

In a country where most people live below sea level, studying the oceans is a matter of survival. Now Dutch scientists have created the world's biggest man-made wave in a bid to prepare for the worst.


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

2.5 / 5 (2) Mar 26, 2012
Are they sure it wasn't the other way around?
David Santamaria
1 / 5 (4) Mar 26, 2012
Nobody can say anymore that since more than 3 billion years ( LUCA ), the centillions of cells that worked together to build life as you can see it now everywhere on earth, did it thank to a practically infinite chain of coincidences, because each time,
each one of them, followed God's precise order to oneself instead of doing something stupid among the truly infinite stupid things each one of them could have have done, like who you know.
To affirm the contrary is just the pleasure to make suffer, perversion in is very definition.
not rated yet Mar 26, 2012
humans compute thus nature computes. In fact nature invents things that will compute for it. Like the computer. I'm surprised they look for proof in slime mold.
not rated yet Mar 29, 2012
...the leaf of a plant uses 99 per cent of the light it receives from the sun...

Where does this value come from? I read that photosynthesis efficiency is significantly less, ranging from three to six percent. Ref: http://en.wikiped...ficiency

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.