So Easy a Slime Mold Can Do It

IN Scientific American we read Slime mold validates efficiency of Tokyo rail network. Here are some excerpts, with bold added by us:

What do Tokyo commuter-rail designers and the slime mold Physarum polycephalum have in common? The two will build strikingly similar networks.

Gasp! A lowly slime mold can mimic an intelligent design? There will be wailing in Seattle. Let’s read on:

A Japan-based research team found that if they placed bits of food (oat flakes) around a central Physarum in the same location as 36 outlying cities around Tokyo, the mold created a network connecting the food sources that looked rather like the existing rail system. And when comparable “topographical barriers” were introduced onto the experimental plane, the links were even more similar.

But … the creationists say that complex biological constructions are evidence of an external, supernatural guiding force. What’s going on here? We continue:

Like the humans behind a constructed network, the organism is interested in saving costs while maximizing utility. In fact, the researchers wrote that this slimy single-celled amoeboid can “find the shortest path through a maze or connect different arrays of food sources in an efficient manner with low total length yet short average minimum distances between pairs of food sources, with a high degree of fault tolerance to accidental disconnection” — and all without the benefit of “centralized control or explicit global information.” In other words, it can build highly efficient connective networks without the help of a planning board.

There’s more to the article, but we’ve copied enough. There’s another article on this in Science News: Slime design mimics Tokyo’s rail system.

The observed ability of biological self organization is one of the many facts that creationists refuse to accept — even when the evidence is right in front of them.

Update: See Creationism and the Slime Mold.

See also: Intelligent Design without a Designer.

Copyright © 2010. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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21 responses to “So Easy a Slime Mold Can Do It

  1. Ahhh, I know God works in mysterious ways but, it makes sense that slime mold and man come to the same conclusion. Just another proof that there is an Intelligent Designer!

  2. Lowly?
    And to think that we thought that you were a friend.

  3. Well, to be just a little bit fair to the cdesign proponentists, they would say that the slime mold has these capacities because it was intelligently designed. None of the ID people say that the organism itself needs to be intelligent, as long as it is the product of an intelligence. That is, since the railways of Tokyo had an intelligent designer, so did the organism which mimics those railways. Blah blah blah.

  4. retiredsciguy

    Yeah, I think RogerE may be right. The ID creationists will just claim the slime mold is being guided by The Intelligent Designer. Oogity Boogers!

  5. retiredsciguy

    I should have mentioned you too, Carl. Evidently, we were typing our posts at the same time.

  6. Well that’s cool. We have the ability to plan things as well as slime molds. Yeah us!

  7. retiredsciguy

    Curmy, while we on the subject of lower forms of life, There’s an interesting article concerning the cucumber mosaic virus (CMV) apparently evolving a means of tricking aphids into spreading the virus’s genes. The article, titled “Virus makes liars of squash plants”, is on p.8 of the Jan. 16, 2010 issue of “Science News” magazine. You can probaly find it online at http://www.sciencenews.org.

    If the CMV can evolve an elaborate method of gene dispersal, it makes one wonder if the fact that cold and flu viruses cause us to sneeze, cough, and have runny noses might be a similarly evolved means of gene dispersal.

  8. Carl Sachs says: “That is, since the railways of Tokyo had an intelligent designer, so did the organism which mimics those railways. Blah blah blah.”

    Yes. Casey is probably drafting that post even as we speak.

  9. slimemold says: “Lowly? And to think that we thought that you were a friend.”

    Hey, I am a friend. I used to date a slime mold.

  10. Frankly, I find it no surprise that humans can do what simple slime molds can do. Heck, even rain flows in the same direction as the path of least resistance. Now, if the slim mold started to communicate with us in morse code, that would be impressive.

  11. retiredsciguy says: “… the cucumber mosaic virus (CMV) apparently evolving a means of tricking aphids into spreading the virus’s genes.”

    It’s all in how you describe it. A mutated virus blunders into a successful strategy, and so it flourishes.

  12. What do Tokyo commuter-rail designers and the slime mold Physarum polycephalum have in common? The two will build strikingly similar networks.

    Truth is a cruel mistress; the implication is clear: the Intelligent Designer is a Slime Mold!

  13. Longie says: “the Intelligent Designer is a Slime Mold!”

    By Jove! I think you’ve got it!

  14. Yes. Casey is probably drafting that post even as we speak.

    We can only hope!

  15. The Curmudgeon confesses:

    I used to date a slime mold.

    Funny, Rielle Hunter says the same thing.

    Wait a minute, you’re not — OMG!

  16. I have been inspired by this article to conduct my own thrilling experiment!

    First, print off any Casey Luskin article from the Discoveroid blog. Then, draw a red circle around every sentence that contains an error or distortion. Finally, draw lines connecting all the red circles into a web of deceit and duplicity.

    Amazingly, the result is indistinguishable from the pattern produced by igniting a firecracker embedded in a fresh cylinder of canine excrement on a large white sheet of paper.

    Spooky, huh!

  17. RogerE considers

    if the slim mold started to communicate with us in morse code, that would be impressive.

    To which the prudent reply can only be:

    .. / ..-. — .-. / — -. . / .– . .-.. -.-. — — . / — ..- .-. / -. . .– / … .-.. .. — . / — — .-.. -.. / — …- . .-. .-.. — .-. -.. …

  18. No suprise. Jesus sneaked the information into the Tokyo fitness landscape. The scientists then copied this design with their oat flakes. (Oh, and ;-)

  19. Ah! So that’s why we can’t see the fingerprints of the Designer from when he did the front-loading of information in our genome.

    He was wearing white gloves like those gentlemen who cram in the passengers.

  20. Physarum is a plamodial slime mold, i.e. it does not have individual cells, just a multinucleate monster cell. But the comparison to rail communication systems is a non-starter. The cytoplasm in Physarum is constantly in motion, it all flows one way at a time and then reverses. Neat to watch. No two way traffic.