Thursday, December 22, 2016

Beware The Slime

How slime thinks:
They are slime molds —yellow, oozing, amoeba-like organisms found on decaying logs and other moist areas. They have no brains. They have no neurons. Each consists of just a single, giant cell. And yet, they’re capable of surprisingly complicated and almost intelligent behaviors. The species that Dussutour studies, Physarum polycephalum, can make decisions, escape from traps, and break out of Petri dishes. “It’s a unicellular organism but it looks smart,” she says.

At its smallest, Physarum can exist as microscopic cells, which actively swim about. These cells are attracted to each other, and when they swarm together, they can merge. The result is a single giant cell called a plasmodium, which can extend for meters. It moves with a top speed of 4 centimeters per hour, by extending tendrils in any direction. A single plasmodium can tear itself into fully functioning pieces, and the pieces can fuse right back again.
The slime is learning...

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