Slime Mold Is Smarter Than You Think

It can solve mazes, might be used in future biocomputers
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 29, 2011 5:48 PM CST

(Newser) – It may not look like much, but slime mold is capable of human-like "thought" beyond the reach of the most sophisticated computers. The organism can arrange its cells in order to find the quickest route through a maze, a Japanese scientist has found. "Humans are not the only living things with information-processing abilities," Toshiyuki Nakagaki tells the Telegraph. "Simple creatures can solve certain kinds of difficult puzzles. If you want to spotlight the essence of life or intelligence, it's easier to use these simple creatures," he says.

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That's why slime mold could be key to building the computers of the future. The stuff can recall stressful situations and has also been seen to form itself into patterns reminiscent of sophisticated railway systems. "Computers are not so good at analyzing the best routes that connect many base points because the volume of calculations becomes too large for them," says another scientist. "But slime molds, without calculating all the possible options, can flow over areas in an impromptu manner and gradually find the best routes." (Read more strange stuff stories.)

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