Simulating global domination with slime molds…
Here’s an interesting article I just came across reporting on computer scientist Andrew Adamatzky‘s experiments to mimic/simulate world domination by way of agar, slime molds, and a globe. The results are interesting, bearing some similarity to patterns of human-spread in the past, possibly predicting future trends… As difficult as it may be for us to accept, maybe we human beings aren’t as different from these mycetozoa as we would like to think…
Slime Molds Achieve Global Domination
By Adam Mann
By traveling from city to city on a map, microscopic protists known as slime molds have figured out how to take over the world.
Starting in Beijing, the slime mould Physarum polycephalum developed a well-organised network for global domination that mimicked historic trade routes like Asia’s Silk Road. The work, carried out by computer scientist Andrew Adamatzky from the University of the West of England, was published on arxiv on 18 September.
“The main idea of these experiments was to satisfy my curiosity — what would happen if the Chinese decided to “expand” their country and colonise the world,” wrote Adamatzky in an email to Wired.com.
Much like an ant colony searching for food, slime moulds send out tiny feeler tubes in different directions. When one limb happens upon a food source, it spreads over it, secreting digestive enzymes to consume its find. In this way, the mould creates a network for transporting nutrients and chemicals for intercellular communication.
Despite having no brains, slime moulds are clever creatures, capable of solving mazes, modelling cancer growth, and even packing bacteria away in their released spores as snacks. One of the most popular recent tricks that researchers have them do is spread between food sources representing different cities, often creating efficient networks that mimic real-world transportation systems.