#SlimeLapseGallery - Episode 2
Written by Chris Reid on February 2, 2015
If you’ve ever watched a slime mold move, you have more patience (and spare time) than I do. If you prefer ‘real action’ over ‘real time’, then #SlimeLapseGallery is the place for you. Brought to you by the SwarmLab, see all the best timelapse videos of slime mold, from the web and from our lab.
Episode 2: Outsmarting engineers since 2010
Today’s #SlimeLapseGallery entry continues with another brilliant experiment from Toshi’s lab, this time the brainchild of Atsushi Tero, culminating in an excellent Science paper. A sheet of agar (acting as a moist substrate only) was cut to resemble the coastline of Japan, in the Tokyo region. Oat flakes acting as food sources were placed on the agar surface, at the locations of the major railway stations in Tokyo, and a large amount of slime mould placed at Tokyo Central. As the organism spread out in search of food and contacted the ‘rail stations’, it connected them with a tubule network. The researchers then used fancy network analysis to prove that the slime mould, without a brain or even a single neuron, can build transport networks that are just as efficient as those designed by human engineers. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this paper nabbed Toshi his second IgNobel prize. Since this landmark paper, there have been many ‘researchers’ jumping on the bandwagon, claiming that slime mould can design better highways everywhere from Iberia to Australia, but the original is by far the best.