2:22 minutes
Problem 16
Textbook Question

When placed at the perimeter of a maze with food in the center, the plasmodial slime mold Physarum polycephalum explores the maze, retracts branches from dead-end corridors, and then grows exclusively along the shortest path possible to the food. How does Physarum do this? One theory is that it leaves behind slime deposits—an externalized “memory” that “reminds” it not to retry dead ends. Researchers have proposed that slime molds could be used to help to plan the paths of future roadways and railways. Justify this statement.

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