The great slime mold race


Well that’s just fucking great. Let’s make them smarter AND faster.

I’m going to go on record right now and welcome our new amoeba/cancer cell overlords. (Second time I got to use that reference on BB today)


What could possibly go wrong?


It’s like these guys have never seen a zombie apocalypse movie.


Is their definition of “maze” fairly loose or am I missing something. To me it looks like there are no wrong ways.

Not fair: why isn’t HeLa allowed to compete as well?

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The “maze” is a grid, and the cells are supposed to move toward a pool of chemoattractant. The challenge is to design cells with speed and precision – they typically have one but not the other quality. So the wrong way would be in any direction that doesn’t bring them closer to the source of the attractant.

When I saw “slime mold” in the headline, I was expecting something bigger that looked a bit more like my recent (last month) lithograph I made, based on the slime mold that lived on a mulch pile at our old house in Virginia:

(Also at my flickr page: )

I was sorry when we moved, knowing that the next occupant would haul the pile away and doom this alien organism. The two lozenge-like black spots first looked to me like cockroaches standing on the yellow-orange cushions, but a closer look showed that they were some kind of extrusions. I falsified nature a bit in the print by putting in more connections between the marshmallowy bits.

It was fascinating to watch them develop. For a little while, I could almost believe it was trying to spell things out. (“Never mind. It just says ‘HELF.’”)


There are in fact two different organisms that go by the common name slime mold. I don’t think they are even related. Although I have seen at least one beautiful lithograph made from photos of dicty so I guess they do share the potential for beautiful art.

Suddenly Kevin J Anderson’s blob racing looks…well, just as stupid as it ever did, really.

Time for Greg Bear to rewrite Blood Music, this time with a more plausible - or at least track-and-field tested - premise.

I’m not in a hurry; I’ve already trained my slime mold to enter the contest for me.

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