Mold Slime Salesman

Where are those Spanx I ordered?!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

We want our packages delivered ASAP! Sounds simple, right? Well, not computationally. A computer measures distance for every possible combination of delivery paths. For eight stops…that’s two thousand paths!

Is the smarter way. . . through mold?

At Keio University, Masashi Aono studies the path taken by SLIME MOLD. You may know it better as…dog vomit.

The slime has two priorities -move TOWARDS food and AWAY from light. The team designed a course for the slime containing channels, each representing a different stop. The channels contained either food or a light source.

How did the amoeba do? It navigated the course with flying colors, outperforming the computers! When more stops were added, the slime mold still raced through.

The team thinks that learning to “think like slime” can help design smarter, more efficient routing software..

So maybe in the future, that impulse ETSY buy will arrive faster. But please…hold the slime mold!

This script was written with Krista Fruehauf.