"we no longer simulate slime mold, but take inspiration from its growth"
September 17, 2020 8:29 PM   Subscribe

Slime molds may sometimes be slimy, but they are never molds. Molds are fungi. Slime molds are fun, guy! They move! They eat! They remember (maybe)! They can teach us about our galaxy! They are gorgeous!
posted by jessamyn (22 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
...am I the only one who heard the title quote in Academician Zakharov's voice?
posted by tavella at 8:42 PM on September 17, 2020 [8 favorites]

Just watching this new episode of NOVA about them, coincidentally.
posted by Going To Maine at 9:58 PM on September 17, 2020 [6 favorites]

> Slime molds are fun, guy!

I will print out and carry a copy of this thread wherever I go, as a hallway pass to any pun I utter while in your presence.

posted by not_on_display at 10:14 PM on September 17, 2020 [3 favorites]

IIRC there's subtle evolutionary conflict between the ones that get to be the fruiting body and the ones that have to be the neck of the fruiting body!
posted by clew at 10:38 PM on September 17, 2020 [1 favorite]

I'll just leave this here.
posted by evilDoug at 11:36 PM on September 17, 2020 [1 favorite]

@tavella No, but I heard it in Egon Spengler's voice.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 1:43 AM on September 18, 2020 [4 favorites]

They're also worth 250 nutrition points, and don't break vegan conduct, for some reason.
posted by Mayor West at 5:12 AM on September 18, 2020 [4 favorites]

...am I the only one who heard the title quote in Academician Zakharov's voice?

You're not, but only because I can't remember Bad'l Ron, Wakener, Morgan Polysoft's voice.

Anyway: Cassie Struuman on Slime Moulds for the 2017 Roguelike Celebration.
posted by polytope subirb enby-of-piano-dice at 6:41 AM on September 18, 2020 [2 favorites]

I would like to briefly discuss the absolutely brilliant staging of the photo of Dr. Audrey Dussutour in the "They remember (maybe)!" link. Aside the fact that it's clearly saying "here is a woman who does science" there are some other really fun details:

There's a pink (vibrantly so) calculator on top of some graph paper. This says to me: it's okay to like pink things and also be a scientist. A very strong message for kids today.

She has a book out (it's on the desk in front of her), and it's called LE BLOB. I think the article is extremely remiss for not specifically mentioning it, but it's also clear that the book is there on the desk in the photo because of this very reason: it says something the text might not. And it's almost impossible to crop it out without getting rid of other context. She's touching it with her other hand!

The top petri dish in the stack is labeled USA. It's joyful to sense some kind of implication that the United States is a brainless organism that simply hoovers up resources. Remember: this is a highly staged photo and, there are whiteboard markers on the counter behind her suggesting the label may have just been written (as there's nothing else in frame suggesting a need for markers). Also the slime mold is kind of the colour of 45's hair.

Her expression is just glorious. Just look at her, looking at the slime mold. I dunno does she want to marry, fuck, or kill, maybe all three?

The slime mold in the tray she's holding is much taller than the dish can comfortably contain with a lid on it. Was this growing unlidded somewhere? Or did she pile it up just for the shot? This stuff moves very slowly.

No brand names visible anywhere on any of the lab equipment. No visible labels (other than USA). No details as to lab methods or process. It's clearly a working space but also clearly been sterilized for publicity purposes.

All of the molds are eating quick-cook oatmeal.

Anyway, I love this photo SO MUCH.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:49 AM on September 18, 2020 [14 favorites]

I too watched the Nova Slime Mold episode and found it fascinating and am glad to see it here now as well. I did not know anything about slime molds, and was much enlightened, and loved seeing the women scientists at work and how much they love what they are doing.
posted by mermayd at 8:05 AM on September 18, 2020 [2 favorites]

This is utterly perfect as we kick off virtual learning in my house and start planning 'extra' learning stuff. My older daughter has long stated she wants to be a "slime-a-tist" when she grows up (a scientist who studies slime) - this will give us lots of fodder.
posted by dotparker at 8:15 AM on September 18, 2020 [1 favorite]

and don't break vegan conduct, for some reason

Probably for the reason that they are not in the animal kingdom; and processing and consumption of slime molds, not being a large commercial venture, likely doesn't involve harm or exploitation of animals in any intermediate step either?
posted by eviemath at 8:23 AM on September 18, 2020

In my high school biology class, we had a slime mold and fed it oatmeal.

I just watched that NOVA episode and that brought back that memory (one of few positive ones due to trauma).
posted by kathrynm at 8:34 AM on September 18, 2020

I too am struggling to think of how slime molds would break even the strictest interpretation of veganism, but then again I've never understood those who eschew mushrooms either.
posted by aspersioncast at 9:04 AM on September 18, 2020

We were just talking about this in game AI class this week! Heather Barnett is an artist who works with it (TedTalk, sorry), and she heads the Slime Mould Collective. Also, The Creeping Garden is a great feature length documentary entirely about slime mold.

I've been looking into getting some from Carolina Biological but shipping is so expensive...
posted by pinothefrog at 9:05 AM on September 18, 2020 [2 favorites]

Oh, more dots to connect!
Soil regeneration > "Hummusphere: a substance or living system?" by Herewig Pmmeresche > Dr Christine Jones & QUORUM SENSING > "Entangled Life ~ how fungi make our worlds, change our minds & shape our futures" by Merlin Sheldrake (slime mold mentioned > and now these awesome photos!
Sometimes life & living are good!
posted by Mesaverdian at 11:35 AM on September 18, 2020 [1 favorite]

I had a pet slime mold, as you might expect. I also remember seeing a short film about them as an undergraduate that had the pulsating mycelium set to the music of Saint-Saƫns and Sibelius.
posted by acrasis at 3:45 PM on September 18, 2020 [1 favorite]

I regularly see two species of slime molds in my local area; Dog Vomit (Fuligo septica) which looks like, well... And False Puffball (Enteridium lycoperdon) which looks like a blob of uncooked glossy meringue. They always cheer me up.
posted by The otter lady at 5:06 PM on September 18, 2020 [2 favorites]

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posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:12 PM on September 18, 2020

I have some slime molds in my garden!! (Or at least I did, not sure if they're still there or what state they're in; I've barely been out there in the last couple weeks because of the smoke.) This weekend I will try to get down close to them and see what they're up to.
posted by librarina at 12:55 AM on September 19, 2020

I just watched The Creeping Garden (thanks pinothefrog!) and O M G it's amazing, go find it and watch it if this topic interests you.
posted by jessamyn at 9:28 AM on September 20, 2020 [3 favorites]

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