Smart Mobs of slime mold
February 24th, 2010

The behavior exhibited in mobs with individuals equipped with mobile connectivity looks to be very, very old from a fascinating article in SEED Magazine. Here is a sample of slime mobs intelligence from the article:

In 2009, University of West England, Bristol researchers Andrew Adamatzky and Jeff Jones placed food on a damp coffee filter in a Petri dish in a pattern corresponding to the major cities of Great Britain. The filter paper itself was cut to match the shape of Great Britain’s island. Then they placed the [slime mold] P. Polychephalum on the food source corresponding to London, and observed the movements of the slime mold as it grew. The networks formed by the slime mold closely matched major roads of Britain. Their research was published in the International Journal of Bifurcation and Chaos.

This year, a team led by Atsushi Tero replicated those results, generating a slime-mold map of the Tokyo rail system. Does this mean slime molds are “intelligent?” Probably not; a likelier explanation is that they simply have evolved an efficient means to transport food, similar to the patterns intelligent humans create for their own transport. . . .

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