(Roughly) Daily

Now, in addition to penicillin, we can credit mold with elegant design…

Quoting Science, Jim Nash at True/Slant reports on researchers at Hokkaido University who have used mold (Physarum polycephalum, a slime mold often found inside decaying logs) to design a transit system…  and found that our fungal friends did a very good job indeed.

The Physarum polycephalum built a replica of the Tokyo train system in 26 hours that’s just about as efficient, reliable and “expensive” to run as the real thing.

Slime mold expands from “Tokyo” to connect to oat flakes representing surrounding cities

…the scientists created a map of the Tokyo metro area using oat flakes for the major cities. Then they put a gelatinous blob (technically, a plasmodium) of Physarum on “Tokyo,” and sat back to see what would happen.

Within about 12 hours, the mold had covered the area with a thin and wet veined sheath of itself. By the 26th hour, the sheath was gone, replaced by mushy tunnels connecting the flakes. The tunnels mimicked Tokyo’s transit system…

…scientists think they can take what they’ve learned about self-organization from the slime mold and apply it to the construction of communication networks and other similar systems.

The whole story is here.

As we revel in the excuse to continue to put off cleaning our refrigerators, we might recall that it was on this date in 1812 that the largest (non-subduction zone) earthquake in U.S. history was recorded.  One the last in a series of roughly 1,000 tremblers to hit the New Madrid, MO area, the February 7 quake measured 8.3 on the Richter Scale; it destroyed New Madrid, and was felt as far away as New York City and Boston, Massachusetts, where church bells were made to ring.  (The 1906 San Francisco Quake registered at about 7.8, and was felt over a much smaller area.)

New Madrid. MO

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