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Single-Celled Organism Converted Into Electronic Oscillator For Bio-Computing

timothy posted about 9 months ago | from the your-slurm-is-thinking dept.

Biotech 34

KentuckyFC (1144503) writes "The single-celled organism slime mold, or Physarum polycephalum, is an extraordinary creature. It explores its world by extending protoplasmic tubes into its surroundings in search of food and it does this rather well. Various researchers have exploited this process to show how Physarum can find optimal routes between different places and even solve mazes. Now one researcher has worked out how to use these protoplasmic tubes as clock-like electronic oscillators. His experiment was straightforward. He encouraged the growth of protoplasmic tubes between two blobs of agar sitting on electrical contacts. He then measured the resistance of the tubes at various voltages. This turns out to be about 6 megaohms. But the results show something else too: that the resistance oscillates over a period of about 73 seconds. That's due to the tubes contracting as waves of calcium ions pass through them. So altering the period of oscillation should be possible by influencing the production of calcium ions, perhaps using light or biochemistry. Electronic oscillators are significant because they are basic drivers of almost all active electronic devices. But this guy's goal is bigger than this. The plan is to grow a "Physarum chip" that acts as a general purpose computer, a device that will need some kind of oscillator or clock to co-ordinate activity, just as in an ordinary processor, although speed will not be its chief characteristic."

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The first step (4, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 9 months ago | (#46652129)

Towards an artificial politician.

From a slime mold. It's gotta work.

The first stupid step (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46652269)

This is NOT AN OSCILLATOR. From the description, it certainly shows resonance, but it IS NOT AN OSCILLATOR. An oscillator requires positive feedback and amplification which p. polycephalum DOES NOT EXHIBIT. The closest thing that you can liken it to is an LC tank or a crystal. You would think that people at Slashdot would recognize this.
 
Oh, they don't? Did I just hear someone in the audience shout that Timothy Lord is a braindead fool with nothing but a toilet paper journalism degree and no technical competence? Ah, I see, I see.

Re:The first stupid step (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46652283)

Mod parent up!
 
If anyone at Dice is reading this, you should really can timmyboy. The first step of getting rid of kdawson was a great move, but you have much further to go.

Re:The first stupid step (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46652351)

On it. We're going to send Timothy his notice of termination tonight.
 
--Dice

Re:The first stupid step (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46652425)

Slashdot is the home of the Space Nutter, the person who thinks we can colonize the universe because computers got better... You expect an understanding of basic physics from these people?

Re:The first stupid step (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46652581)

Yeah. It wasn't always this bad.

Re:The first stupid step (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46657011)

Oh look, this shithead posted again.

Re:The first stupid step (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46653225)

Take a deep breath. This is NOT IMPORTANT!

Soundslike new auto-content for Futurama (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46657831)

Nixon dies, and is re-spawned from mold to bring in the new tyranny.

Re:The first step (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46658781)

nah give it a weeks evolution and it will be a merkin.

I for one... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46652209)

welcome our Zerg overlords.

One step closer to Moldies (3, Interesting)

GAATTC (870216) | about 9 months ago | (#46652239)

"a human corporation called ISDN retaliates against the boppers by infecting them with a genetically modified organism called chipmold. The artificial disease succeeds in killing off the boppers, but when it infects the boppers' outer coating, a kind of smart plastic known as flickercladding, it creates a new race of intelligent symbiotes known as moldies " - from Rucy Rucker's Ware Tetrology series (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ware_Tetralogy). Notably, this set of three books was released free by the author (http://www.rudyrucker.com/wares/).

Re:One step closer to Moldies (1)

50000BTU_barbecue (588132) | about 9 months ago | (#46652437)

First thing I thought of! Love the 'ware saga.

Re:One step closer to Moldies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46654017)

As an author myself, I find that it's getting harder to compete with "free." I don't suggest that we outlaw free and Public Domain, but I do suggest that writing, in any subject, is no longer a viable profession.

Re:One step closer to Moldies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46657041)

It is not societies job to support you! You deserve NO money for writing because you are just using the culture that came before you to do it. The hobo who plays guitar for quarters, now there is someone who really cares about his craft. If you want to make money, you should sell sit on the corner and read your stories and beg for change like him, or maybe sell t-shirts like real artists who love their fans do.

our new organic masters (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46652275)

Allow me to be the first welcome our new soon to be Single-Celled Organism overlords. "why is the timing off on this watch? The slime mold demands we make more time!"

I hope he gets a lot of instructions per clock... (3, Insightful)

EmagGeek (574360) | about 9 months ago | (#46652335)

Because 0.0136986 Hz is not that high a clock speed...

Re:I hope he gets a lot of instructions per clock. (3, Funny)

Threni (635302) | about 9 months ago | (#46653045)

It should be ok for languages which were designed with speed in mind so that it sort of balances out. Java, for instance.

Re:I hope he gets a lot of instructions per clock. (1)

Twelfth Harmonic (3464759) | about 9 months ago | (#46658889)

I hope we can code our scripting languages into a slime mold, one day.

Cool! (1)

OhSoLaMeow (2536022) | about 9 months ago | (#46652357)

The Potion of See Invisible oscillates!

Electric shock torture (2)

Jeff Flanagan (2981883) | about 9 months ago | (#46652365)

So now we're torturing slime mold. Think of the poor victimized slime mold!!11!One

Re:Electric shock torture (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46657889)

Do single-celled animals have rights?

Hack (3, Funny)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 9 months ago | (#46652367)

That oscillating slime mold was delicious!

Awesome name. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46652377)

Is it only me who love the name it has been given?
Slime mold.

Frequency Modulation! Make a VLF Radio Out Of It! (2)

NeverVotedBush (1041088) | about 9 months ago | (#46652379)

"So altering the period of oscillation should be possible by influencing the production of calcium ions, perhaps using light or biochemistry." Slime mold calls to submarines!

In related news ... (4, Funny)

Alan426 (962302) | about 9 months ago | (#46652445)

Development begins on a branch of Puppy Linux optimized for a 1.4 cHz Physarum processor.

So this is the beggining of... (2)

Faw (33935) | about 9 months ago | (#46653039)

Star Trek's Bio-neural gel pack [memory-alpha.org] ?

Re:So this is the beggining of... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46653149)

Who said anything about neurons, idiot?

Re:So this is the beggining of... (1)

Faw (33935) | about 9 months ago | (#46659953)

Well if you actually bothered to click on the links (the "Physarum chip" chip one) you would have read all the fields their research would benefit . One of them is Neuro-morphic processing [wikipedia.org] which means emulating how the brain work.

Six megaohms? (2)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 9 months ago | (#46654461)

Is this creature made out of plastic? I've less than six megaohms, and that's including a layer of skin at both ends!

I hate to ask this, but . . . (1)

mmell (832646) | about 9 months ago | (#46658495)

If this can be made into some sort of organic computer, some moron somewhere will try to overclock it. Do we really want faster microorganisms?

Re:I hate to ask this, but . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46659161)

It's not a micro-organism. It's one gigantic cell.

Stick it in a synth... (1)

pinzvidz (3520933) | about 9 months ago | (#46659001)

I wanna hear what it sounds like. Oh wait, John Cage has already done it with 4'33".
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