Slime Molds Could Teach Us How To Build Better Roads

Slime Molds Could Teach Us How To Build Better Roads

Some slime molds seem supernaturally gifted at choosing the best route for finding food. They'll abandon inefficient trails and forge strong ones that lead to food sources, a trait that has led scientists to recreate major highway maps with them. By placing oatmeal on the points of a Petri dish that correspond to large railway stations, researchers built a tiny model of the Tokyo rail system with a slime mold in 2010. Studying the molds' predictive powers could eventually lead to better urban planning and road construction.

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Key Facts In This Video

  • 1

    Army ants use pheromones and touch to communicate group decisions and solve problems. (1:39)

  • 2

    Watch army ants create and adjust a living bridge to shorten the pathway the group takes: (2:52)

  • 3

    In one study, slime molds given a choice between two paths chose the path that led to more food 80–85% of the time. (5:00)

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