Slime moulds exhibit the kind of "contemplative behaviour" that Hamlet is famous for, muses Toshiyuki Nakagaki of Hokkaido University in Japan. ...The slime mold's puzzle-solving ability — Shakespearean or otherwise — is a discovery that is unlikely to change the world, but it won Nakagaki and his colleagues an Ig Nobel Prize for cognitive science last week at the annual event held at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Their research... showed that slime molds looking for food have "the ability to find the minimum-length solution between two points in a labyrinth".
Subsequently, the team has found that molds can find the shortest path between 30–50 points, which is something even supercomputers cannot yet work out. "We can't even check the mold's solution," notes Nakagaki, "but it looks good."
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
This year's Ig-Noble prize in cognitive science goes to a slime mold
A clip from Steve Nadis' write up in Nature News of this year's Ig-Noble prizes: