Pray to the Moon when She is round,
Luck with you will then abound,
What you seek for shall be found
On the sea or solid ground.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Stalling... (with a Super Smart Slime)

Physarum polycephalum... maybe. Maybe not.
If not, it bears a strong resemblance.

I am experiencing some challenges with my "Spiritual Warfare" remediation project for Tennessee. It has been dragging on & on... I looked back at my first 20 or so "Transformation" posts & realized that somehow they have evolved from heartfelt simplicity to laborious behemoth-ness (probably not a word, but I care not). So, I vowed to complete the work tonight. Now I sit here, late on this Saturday night, wee folk finally sleeping & I find I would much prefer to ogle videos of Physarum polycephalum, a very clever slime mould. 

Image from Google Books.
How clever? Clever enough to be the basis for this book: Physarum Machines: Computers from Slime Mould. No effing kidding. (Thanks to Radical Mycology for the tip.) The synopsis for the book states that it is geared towards "Students, researchers and engineers interested in developing non-traditional wetware systems at the cutting edge of artificial life, unconventional computing and robotics." The vision is to use Physarum polycephalum as the basis for creating inexpensive, "green" "Physarum Machines" -- environmentally friendly computer systems. Did I just hear your head explode, or was that mine (again)?

Physarum polycephalum... maybe. Maybe not.
If not, it bears a strong resemblance.
I know slimes, but I know nothing about mysteries of computer science. The reviews I read said the book is accessible to "nonprofessional readers," so I took a peek at the Google preview (which appears to be the entire publication). The book loses me anytime it shifts from biological systems to computer systems, BUT it does have many pretty pictures (& we hominids love pictures!). Ultimately, the text is intended as a theoretical & practical guide for folks interested in experimentation in the field of alternative computers with the vision being to create Physarum machines "for computational geometry and optimization, distributed manipulation and transportation, and general-purpose computation." That just gives me a headache... (I prefer to chat with them, thank you), but celebrate the smart slimes I will!

The author also offers a series of companion videos to compliment the already bountiful array of plates included in the book. You can find all the videos here: Physarum Machines. This has been the fodder for my Physarum-inspired filibustering. I am particularly fond of the roadways, musicals, decision-making & color transfer videos. But, I will offer here a couple of classics: 

Physarum polycephalum completing a maze:

Physarum polycephalum imitating the Canadian transport network:

And this one I simply MUST include: "Sound track of Physarum polycephalum electrical activity recorded over 9 days and compressed to 1 min 32 sec or so." Listen to it flourish & die. Completely incredible. Little Lad says the video is cool, but the music is "boring." I say, "Whatever."

I could go on & on about this, from so many angles (animism, defining intelligence, ethics, futuristic visions...). But I won't. Watching them do their sensational thing is enough for me this night. 

Besides, it all makes this hominid feel rather feeble-minded. 

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