Using slime mold to model transportation networks

http://www.economist.com/sciencetechnology/displaystory.cfm?story_id=15328524

“Since the purpose of this activity is to link food sources together and to transport nutrients around the creature, Atsushi Tero at Hokkaido University in Japan and his colleagues wondered if slime-mould transport networks bore any resemblance to human ones. As they report in Science, they built a template with 36 oat flakes (a favoured food source) placed to represent the locations of cities in the region around Tokyo. They put P. polycephalum on Tokyo itself, and watched it go. They found that many of the links the slime mould made bore a striking resemblance to Tokyo’s existing rail network.”

Pretty cool, but I’m kind of dissappointed that it modelled the existing network. One would hope that such biological models might suggest new potentials for infrastructure, rather than recreating existing ones.

-dn

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