The Jello Strikes Back

The Blob terrorised movie audiences in 1958, creeping, leaping and gliding across the floor (or so the tagline for the movie claimed). It was a fanciful and eminently escapable monster, and gives its real-world counterparts, slime moulds, a bad name. These intriguing creatures take on a range of forms during their diverse life cycles, ranging from single-celled escapades to highly visible fungi-like masses. A couple of weeks back, a suspected slime mould was spotted at Griffith, voraciously spreading under a plant near the sidewalk, potentially lying in wait for a lone passer-by to come too close…

A suspected slime mold was recently spotted at Griffith University by a vigilant observer.

Slime moulds have been shown to be capable of memory – a remarkable feat for a collection of cells without a discernable brain – and, in a broader context with their proto-cell allies, are also being used to help with architecture and  urban planning, including possibly stopping Venice from sinking! I, for one, welcome our new slimy overlords.

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Categories: Science, Videos | Tags: , | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “The Jello Strikes Back

  1. M@

    Hmm, Imaginative and idealistic; though I’m a little curious as to how they will actually control the metabolic ‘growth’ of limestone underneath Venice. The lady in the TED video did mention they’ve engineered/discovered proto-cells that are photosensitive and can directionally swim to darker areas, but she didn’t mention anything about controlling and eliminating these life-forms once they’ve finished the job. And how are they supposed to keep proto-cells DNA free, or avoid being engulfed by bacteria?

    Pity I can’t get access (with the GU library proxy) to some of her work;
    http://www.atypon-link.com/INT/doi/abs/10.1386/tear.7.2.79/1
    http://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/abs/10.1162/artl.2009.16.1.16101
    http://www.atypon-link.com/INT/doi/abs/10.1386/tear.7.2.199/1

    • Yes, it’s a bit of a stretch to say that these kinds of manipulations are anywhere near useful yet, but that’s part of what TED is about I suppose.

      Interestingly, many slime moulds are actually predators of bacteria – while doing my (rushed and shallow) research for this blog, I noticed that little fact, and that the presence of bacteria can trigger changes in their life cycle.

      I mainly posted this because it was cool to find a slime mould the other week, haha.

  2. wanderingwonderer

    I remember reading about slime moulds last year. I forgot how interesting they are.
    And you watch TedTalks? I love those! They have some really great speakers. =]

    • Yeah, TED talks are great… I haven’t seen many, but there are lots I want to check out if I get the time!

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