Academic journal article Science and Children

Slime Networks

Academic journal article Science and Children

Slime Networks

Article excerpt

The way funguslike slime molds grow could help engineers design wireless communication networks.

Scientists drew this conclusion after observing a slime mold as it grew into a network that was almost identical to the rail system in Tokyo. The scientists describe their ideas for "biologically inspired networks" in the journal Science.

They have incorporated the slime mold's efficient strategy into a mathematical formula, which could help engineers develop better, more efficient designs.

The single amoeboid cells of slime molds fuse and spread into a network as they feed and grow.

"These biological networks have been honed by many cycles of evolutionary selection pressure," wrote the researchers in their article.

The research team, led by Dr. Atsushi Tero from Hokkaido University, Japan, wanted to capture this evolved efficiency, which it says could be used to inform human engineering decisions.

The scientists put the slime to the test by allowing it to grow on a wet surface on which they placed oat flakes in locations that corresponded to the cities surrounding Tokyo. They placed the slime mold, Physarum polycephalum, in the center.

As it grew outward, it organized itself into a network around the food that closely resembled the train network connecting Tokyo to its surrounding cities. …

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