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Opinion, arguments & analyses from guest experts and from the editors of Scientific American

Slime mold validates efficiency of Tokyo rail network

What do Tokyo commuter-rail designers and the slime mold Physarum polycephalum have in common? The two will build strikingly similar networks.

A Japan-based research team found that if they placed bits of food (oat flakes) around a central Physarum in the same location as 36 outlying cities around Tokyo, the mold created a network connecting the food sources that looked rather like the existing rail system...

January 21, 2010 — Katherine Harmon

Hexapod robot moves in the right direction by controlling chaos

Given that robots generally lack muscles, they can't rely on muscle memory (the trick that allows our bodies to become familiar over time with movements such as walking or breathing) to help them more easily complete repetitive tasks...

January 17, 2010 — Larry Greenemeier

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