Swarming Meets “The Blob”

The more I read about slime mold behavior the more I think the blob was seriously under-appreciated. Bear with me here. In a nutshell, slime molds are individual cells that, under the right environmental conditions, can band together into a colony that exhibits complex emergent behavior that you would never expect of it’s single celled components. It is a classic example of a self organizing group that, like other creatures that swarm, can make relatively complex decisions about their environment. Believe it or not, a slime mold colony can actually solve a maze!

An let’s face it, what is a man eating blob from outer space really made of? I bet it was just a slime mold. The blob was probably just misunderstood. There it was, on a strange planet, no friends, no one to talk to, not even a myspace page. It really is all just too horrible to imagine. Fortunately, there was a ready supply of food close at hand – teenagers!

However, despite a predilection for poor decision making (“Hey, let’s make out in the back of the car…did you hear something?”) teenagers seem to be relatively quick on their feet. A blob has to do a lot of work to keep up. Decisions have to be made. Let’s put ourselves into the mind of a blob…OK, maybe not the mind. Let’s join the colony for a while and see if we can get a little insight into the inner life of a killer alien from outer space.

So there you all are sitting on a street corner. Just you and 20 million of your closest unicellular friends. You’re all probably feeling a mite bit peckish. Dinner is in order. But where to go? There is the malt shop – plenty of teenagers there – but maybe you are trying to lighten up on your carb intake. Or you could roll on over to the movie theater – Lots of food in a dark, tightly confined space. What would you do? Go for the kids with a little chocolate on the side, or do you catch a movie and snack on a few teenagers during the show?

So, the next time you come across a killer alien blob from outer space rampaging through your idyllic little suburb, remember, swarm intelligence is not easy! Try feeding them the neighbor’s poodle, and have a little sympathy for the slimy.

4 Responses to Swarming Meets “The Blob”

  1. Great funny stuff. I hope you will share the swarming presentation after Agile 08 for us who cannot make it.

  2. […] Posted on July 31, 2008 by Jon Strickler I laughed out loud as I read this post from Tom Perry. He is Co-presenting the topic: Swarming – The Birds and the Bees and AgileĀ at […]

  3. Kencost says:

    Thanks! Really funny. Big ups!

  4. BigBan says:

    Oh, Thanks! Really interesting. Greets.

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