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slime mold


colony 1


colony 2


We are never really alone. I’ve been out in the rain forest observing slime molds and am completely beguiled by them. These are the pictures I took yesterday. Ancient as time, the slime mold is a colony of tiny amoeba-like things that coagulate occasionally into a super-organism, which oozes toward new feeding grounds, or an auspicious place to sporulate. With its mission accomplished, the mass dissipates back into individual organisms and disappears into the soil. They have no brain or nervous system of any kind, yet slime molds are able to make complex decisions when they aggregate into these entities, including being able to solve mazes. This is accomplished via a secret chemical language that allows information to flow between adjoining individuals. When added together, this simple network creates a superior collective intelligence without the need for any kind of centralized command structure. When the urge to eat or reproduce besets enough individuals, they reach critical mass and just slime their way toward their objective. A simple but effective strategy. But if we adopted it, what would we do with all those bosses? Billions of years before the internet, and the slime molds had already perfected the cohering mechanism of ad hocracies like Digg or open source software development. The way I figure it, the status of the lowly slime mold needs to be elevated. They are such an inspiration. –Lord Running Clam, I salute you!