Weekly Dose of Woah #16 [March 20, 2019]

slime mold map of USA

Have you ever heard of slime mold? We agree…it’s not the most enticing name. However, this fungus exhibits some woah-worthy properties.

Without a central nervous system (i.e. a brain), this fungus is still able to solve mazes with utmost efficiency as long as it has the only thing that matters to its existence: food.

Researchers were so intrigued by this optimal way in which slime mold could solve mazes that they tasked them with another problem: figuring out mass transit.

By placing food in a petri dish at locations that were the same relative distance and direction as major cities on a map of Tokyo, the slime mold figured out the best way to connect all those “cities” so that it could maximize its feeding. Turns out, the most optimal way was the same design as the Tokyo rail system that connects the city’s major epicenters and suburbs.

See it for yourself:

Researchers took it a step further and did the same kind of experiment for the U.S.A, where such a rail system doesn’t exist.

The result was no less intriguing:

The slime mold actually mimics the highways that span the US!

How could such a simple organism solve some of the most complex problems known to man? Research is forthcoming, but it seems to be taking advantage of natural mathematical patterns for tiling environments seen all throughout nature. Amazing.

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About Nicco Reggente, PhD 164 Articles
Nicco is the co-founder and CEO of WoahStork and Strain Genie-- two companies dedicated to bringing to life his passion of bringing personalized medicine to the cannabis industry. Nicco received his PhD from UCLA in cognitive neuroscience with a focus on machine learning applied to neuroimaging datasets. He previously received two B.As from NYU in Psychology and Philosophy.

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