Slime Mold – You Won’t Believe What Happened Next!
– Andy Wade –
OK, I’m tired of headlines like that. “Click me! Click me!” But it’s really how I felt the other day.
What the ….? As we drove into our driveway after a week away I noticed this large bright yellow patch in the garden. Did someone dump paint? Wait, did a dog throw up there? I got out to investigate and discovered this slimy mess that looked a bit like radio-active cottage cheese. A closer inspection revealed that it was a fungus of some sort – it was alive! I let it be.
The next day this bright slimy mess had turned peach and leathery on top and all gooey in the center. By the third day it was brown on top and filled with powdery black spores – like black talcum powder. Of course I went to the Internet to investigate more and discovered it was slime mold, “Dog-vomit slime” in the vernacular.
Are You Smarter Than Slime?
Wait, hadn’t I heard about this before? Didn’t I even include it in a post in June? Indeed! This mysterious slime mold, which can appear in a matter of hours, was the stuff of research! Scientists used it to see if a single-celled mold could design the Tokyo subway system more efficiently than humans… and it did!
Oats were used to mark the major cities and these single-celled marvels, working together, created a map of the most efficient connections. What took engineers months to figure out, slime mold accomplished in a matter of hours!
Learning From Creation
Yes, it’s a bit gross to look at, but what a marvel! It’s almost like God placed this stuff in my yard to drive home earlier lessons:
1) We are created for, and at our best, when we live as community, and
2) Our first impulse to rid our soil of things we don’t understand is likely destroying both the health and productivity of the land.
And just for fun, here’s another video someone took of spraying water on this slime mold community. Kind of made me think of how the good news spread during persecution of the early church – and often continues today!
Living Computers or Super Spooky Slime Overlords?
And finally, here’s a glimpse into how slime molds may be used to help create living computers.
I’m both intrigued and terrified!