Friday, October 18, 2013

How About That Slime Mold...?

There are a lot of strange critters in this ol' world and this stuff is probably one of the strangest!

I mean, this stuff is more strange than most of the members of my family tree and evena couple of my ex's! Believe me when I say that is really stretching the "strange" boundary, if you know what I mean!

The Nasty Slime That Can Tell Time And Build Computers

By Morris M. on Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Slime molds are one of the weirdest creatures in existence—brainless, single-celled organisms that can break up into dozens of separate individuals and change shape at will. They’re also frighteningly intelligent.

Slime molds look like what they sound like: a lump of slimy, sticky stuff that you’d probably wipe off the bottom of your shoe. In the wild, they seem to change shape between a kind of fungus, a kind of slug, and a kind of plant (and much else) without ever actually being any of them. In short, they’re strange, strange creatures. They’re also literally brainless, but that hasn’t stopped scientists from recognizing them as almost supernaturally intelligent.

In 2000, Japanese researchers discovered that slime molds are really, really good at navigating mazes. Not in a trial-and-error sort of a way, either: If given a maze with two sources of food at opposing ends, a slime mold will instinctively grow along the shortest possible path between the two. Again, these are creatures totally lacking in anything even approaching a brain, yet they can understand not only mazes, but also time.

Yes: time. Researchers demonstrated this by putting slime molds in an ideal environment, then lowering the temperature every 30 minutes to make it inhospitable for them. After a few rounds, the slime molds learned to automatically slow their metabolism every 30 minutes on the dot, suggesting these lumps of goo have better time perception than most potheads.

But we haven’t even gotten to the weirdest bit. Thanks to their ability to find the shortest possible path between two objects, slime molds are also great at planning road and railway networks. Actual, real-life road builders have used slime molds to decide the best route to build their new highway—and that’s before we get to the guys who use them to build computers.

Basically, the idea is that slime molds can act like a type of resistor called a “memristor,” meaning they could potentially be used to build general-purpose computers. It sounds nuts—and it’s about to get a whole lot crazier. Just two months ago, scientists actually hooked a slime mold up to a robot face, so we could “see” its emotions. If there was ever one experiment that could have doomed humanity, giving the super-intelligent slime a robot slave was probably it.

Just imagine! If this stuff is so intelligent without a brain, how scary would it be if it had one? Kinda makes you look over your shoulder, ya know?

Better have our coffee in the kitchen this morning. Rain and cooler temps are starting early today!


Sixbears said...

A zillion years ago I had a college professor who was all about slime molds. Loved them.

Yeah, he was a weirdo too. :)

Chickenmom said...

Just had to look that one up, Mr. Hermit! Had never heard of it before - glad I stopped by today and learned something new! Very warm here at 57, but it should turn colder later in the week.

Sunnybrook Farm said...

I think that I saw a movie that started with that stuff.

Duke said...

Sounds like the slime mold has more sense than a lot of voters.

Mamahen said...

WOW thats all!!

Rob said...

Intelligent without a brain?

Sounds like either something really new or something we don't know enough about to even ask questions yet.

linda m said...

That is really weird. I did see them in a movie once - it was called The Blob. My hubby says his ex mother-in-law must have been a slime mold. I met her once and I didn't think she was that smart. Have a great weekend.

JO said...

YUCK! creepy stuff. I sure hope I never come across any slime mold.

Coffee in the kitchen with other warm bodies sounds great. getting very nippy here in the mornings.

Anonymous said...

They talked about then in a science program on tv not long ago and they are truly interesting!

We have lots of them in the forest and they are called Troll Butter :-)

Have a great day!


HermitJim said...

Hey Sixbears...
Seems to be something to keep an eye on, don't ya think? Like something out of a science fiction movie!

Thanks for coming over today!

Hey Phyllis...
Always glad to share some new (to me) stuff with everyone!

Many thanks for coming over today!

Hey Sunnybrook...
There may have been a couple of them. Perfect candidate, if you ask me!

Thanks for the visit!

Hey Duke...
Now that's a very good possibility!

Thanks for coming by today!

Hey Mamahen...
That about says it all!

Thanks for dropping by today!

Hey Rob...
Like I said, pretty scary stuff! Worth studying, I think!

Many thanks for coming over!

Hey Linda...
That sounds a lot like the stuff, for sure!

Thanks for the visit this morning!

Hey Jo...
Nippy is great! Same here this morning!

Thanks, sweetie, for coming by today!

Dizzy-Dick said...

Just think how smart they would be if only they had a brain. Maybe they should go to Emerald City to see the Wizard.