Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Emergence: Organic precedents

Biology Professor Emeritus John Bonner's microscope films show the curiously collective nature of slime molds. A plasmodial slime mould involves numerous individual cells attached to each other, forming one large membrane. This "supercell" (a syncytium) is essentially a bag of cytoplasm containing thousands of individual nuclei. By contrast, cellular slime moulds spend most of their lives as individual unicellular protists, but when a chemical signal is secreted, they assemble into a cluster that acts as one organism.

Engineers learn from slime moulds

The way fungus-like slime moulds grow could help engineers design wireless communication networks. Scientists drew this conclusion after observing a slime mould as it grew into a network that was almost identical to the Tokyo rail system. The single amoeboid cells of slime moulds fuse and spread into a network as they feed and grow...


Slime Molds Are Earth’s Smallest, Oldest Farmers