What was that article about colonies of bacteria acting like actual historical cities?
May 7, 2012 7:17 AM   Subscribe

Help me find an article about bacteria modeling human behavior at a macro level. My google-fu is failing me.

I have a dim memory of reading an article about this, more than two years ago. The idea was that scientists would put bacteria onto a medium in several colonies, in an arrangement meant to resemble a scale model of the distances between several cities (I think, but am not certain, that the cities were meant to be Japanese, such that one colony represented, say, Tokyo, and another represented Osaka, and a third Nagano, and so on).

These colonies grew outward toward one another in some fashion such that they created "roadways" connecting the cities to one another. The striking thing about the experiment was that the roadways connecting the cities bore a stronger-than-expected resemblance to the actual roadways between the actual cities. I'm sure I'm not describing this especially well, but does anybody know what I'm talking about?

I don't think it was this, but it may be related to this research.
posted by gauche to Science & Nature (4 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: If we're thinking of the same thing, it was slime molds, not bacteria. Here's a writeup and here's the paper on arxiv.
posted by theodolite at 7:22 AM on May 7, 2012

Response by poster: That could be it. Definitely the same idea, and I didn't think to look for slime molds. Thanks!
posted by gauche at 7:38 AM on May 7, 2012

Best answer: Was it Rules for Biologically Inspired Adaptive Network Design (preprint anyone can access?

Again, this paper was about slime moulds rather than bacteria.
posted by James Scott-Brown at 7:49 AM on May 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Yes! That was it. I remember seeing the graphics from this article specifically. Thank you!
posted by gauche at 7:52 AM on May 7, 2012

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