Connecting the dots

The Economist summarizes recent publications by Adamatzky and Jones and Atsushi Tero that use Physarum polycephalum, a species of myxomycetes (a/k/a slime mold, probably my favorite simple organisms), to model the tradeoffs between efficiency and redundancy in designing macro networks, like rail lines or motorways.

Of course, neither Dr Tero nor Dr Adamatzky is suggesting that rail and road networks should be designed by slime moulds. What they are proposing is that good and complex solutions can emerge from simple rules, and that this principle might be applied elsewhere.

At the Park: 1

We went out for a short morning to work on the nest boxes at the Park. Since we forgot to bring a drill so that we could mount new boxes, all we accomplished was tearing down box 60. This wasn’t too hard to do, even without tools, because 60 was pretty ramshackle.

Paul spotted a couple of tail-bobbing Palm Warblers (Dedroica palmarum) and there were some lingering phoebes and swallows over the wetland. Or should we say, soon-not-to-be-wetland: lots of grassy vegetation and small willows and maples are springing up along the boardwalk.

slime moldI found several silvery masses of a slime mold in a rotting tree down along Barnyard Run. The lowest such mass (in the image) was a few feet over my head, about the size of my fist.