Slime mould solves a maze

Watch Slime Mould Solve a Maze to Find Food

Video of a slime mould finding the food in the center of the maze on the first try.

I recently stumbled upon this video of a slime mould solving a maze in one pass, and it’s either amazing or utterly horrifying nightmare fuel. The jury is still out.

According to the video description, this is a Plasmodium of Physarum polycephalum computing a path into the central chamber of the maze where the food is. It was filmed in time lapse at one frame every five minutes, and played back at 25-30 frames per second.

From the study:

Plasmodium of Physarum polycephalum is a large cell, visible by unaided eye, which exhibits sophisticated patterns of foraging behaviour. The plasmodium’s behaviour is well interpreted in terms of computation, where data are spatially extended configurations of nutrients and obstacles, and results of computation are networks of protoplasmic tubes formed by the plasmodium. In laboratory experiments and numerical simulation we show that if plasmodium of Physarum is inoculated in a maze’s peripheral channel and an oat flake (source of attractants) in a the maze’s central chamber then the plasmodium grows toward target oat flake and connects the flake with the site of original inoculation with a pronounced protoplasmic tube. The protoplasmic tube represents a path in the maze. The plasmodium solves maze in one pass because it is assisted by a gradient of chemo-attractants propagating from the target oat flake.

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