Nov. 24, 2001

Levitating Aph! Smart mold!

I'm so damn The current mood of augustdreams at

Aph can levitate! No, really. Earlier today we were out on the screenporch reading (well, I was reading. Aph was napping) when one of the neighbors did something that resulted in a loud crashing noise. All four of Aph's fuzzy feet left the ground! I never saw anything like it.

Is mold slime intelligent?

Ah, a question that has plagued mankind since the dawn of time. (Well, okay. Maybe not. But it's plagued me for the last couple hours.) Here are the facts:

Toshiyuki Nakagaki of Japan's Institute of Physical and Chemical Reasearch places a slime mold in a maze with food for a goal. The slime mold's scientific name is Physarum Polycephalum (say that ten times fast!) and it spends most of it's life as a amoeba-like critter that can change shape and extend tubelike arms to move and get food.

Nakagaki placed Oatmeal (which slime molds apparently find irresistible!) at the end of the maze. The slime mold spread itself out toward either end of the maze, leaving a thread to hold itself together. The thread then found the shortest path through the maze! So, while the odds are a slime mold's not going to beat you at Scrabble, they're much more intelligent than we ever could've imagined. I've always liked fungi, mold and such. But then it's well established that I'm odd. This study has given me a new affection for them. Slime molds solving mazes. It really is a magical world.

Have a wonderful night.

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