Yellow slime mold may hold the key to bio-computers

Dec 29, 2011
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A Japanese scientist named Toshiyuki Nakagaki, a professor at the Future University Hakodate, is working with amoeboid yellow slime mold. That sounds gross, but what he is saying about the slime mold is very interesting. Nakagaki says that the simple yellow slime mold might hold the key to designing bio-computers that are capable of solving very complex problems.

According to Nakagaki, the yellow slime mold is able to organize its cells to create the most direct path to its food through a maze. The cells have some sort of information-processing ability according to Nakagaki that lets them reach their food while avoiding stressors that might damage them along the way. The yellow slime being studied in this experiment is cultured in a petri dish. In the wild, the mold lives on rotting leaved or logs and eats bacteria.

The specific slime is Physarum polycephalum known by the common name grape-cluster slime. It is used because it grows large enough to be seen without a microscope. The scientist says that slime molds are able to create much more effective networks than our most advanced technology today. The slime even appears to remember things that that stresses it to the point that it goes inactive and then preemptively go inactive when they expect to experience the same stress.

[Yahoo News]


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