We'll let the videos do most of the explaining, but the basics go like this. Physarum polycephalum, a type of slime mold, scouts for food sources by growing tendrils. Once it's created a spider web-like network of tendrils, the mold maintains and strengthens whichever tendrils take the most direct or efficient paths to the food and withdraws the rest. So, how does this relate to the greening of America's transportation? Well, researchers in the UK have already used the slime mold to create living maps of local roads and railways. What they found is that, without help from the researchers, the slime molds mimicked a good part of the actual road systems in the country.
So, in the future, maybe, slime molds combined with computer models could help make new transportation networks more efficient, easing congestion without the use of those creepy IBM stoplights that shut your car off for you. Hit the jump to watch a computer-generated simulation of the mold at work.
[Source: Popular Science]