Brainless Slime Molds Learn & Teach!

tanyalattyDr Tanya Latty, PhD, insect ecology at the University of Calgary said: “I think we’re beginning to realize that brains are not prerequisites for complex and interesting behavior. The majority of life-forms on Earth are brainless, but we know very little about how this brainless majority are able to adapt their behavior in changing environments.

This discovery comes in a study published last week in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Scientists at the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) in France taught some 2,000 slime molds to avoid nasty-tasting substances (nasty to slime molds) while searching for food — and found that the molds could then transmit this behavior to their compatriots simply by fusing with them. In essence, when the slime mold learned to cross a bridge to a petri dish full of food it liked they then put repellant chemicals on the bridge and the slime_mold_on_deadwood-google-reuse-permitslime mold learned  to ignore these repellents to seek food.  It did so by carefully testing the bridge with a fine tentacle of slime as a scouting party.  When the tentacle could cross, eat and return,  the whole blob knew it was safe to do the same and did so.  It did so faster and faster as it established the safety of the crossing.  Even more astounding was that the learned slime mold was able to teach this to new slime molds in came in physical contact with.

In my story character,  Janr Ssor’s,  sci-fi adventures, he discovers that his experience of the universe does not often depend upon the physical structures we commonly associate with our world.  He frequently discovers communications we do not experience but more and more are learning to recognize as in this article on slime molds or my essay, “Is Intelligence In Your Brain? Or Are Scientists Stupid?”, which finds this behaviour in almost equally brainless tiny insects.

Science is fascinating in its ongoing  attempts to discover new concepts of truth and reality. The longer I live the more convinced I am that there is less and less difference between scientific proof and theory.  This is not to say that we can not “prove” a theory by methods. smartphone-image-truth It is just puzzling what we are proving? Is it all of reality or just a convenient fragment that suits our needs much as the slime molds discover did its?  Sometimes I wonder, are we the image outside or inside the cell phone? Can we really know?

It would be illogical to deny the success of science when you see a spaceship, whose design is based on millions of years or learning scientific “proven rules”  successfully launch a satellite into orbit. On the other hand, it is one thing to have ultimate knowledge and another to grasp just enough to get through the day.  I believe we are at the latter point in our evolution but often sensing the light of a bigger tomorrow through the one thing science truly tries to teach well, “keep the window to learning open and know that we have no ultimate truths.”  Enjoy the trip, the destination is not our purpose.

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