Amoeba Design Efficient Transit System

The growth patterns of amoebae as they spread out to connect to food sources bears a striking resemblance to the map of a rail system. Some say the amoeba could inform urban planners and designers.

"[A] species of gelatinous amoeba could help urban planners design better road systems to reduce traffic congestion, a new study found.

A team of researchers studied the slime mold species Physarum polycephalum and found that as it grows it connects itself to scattered food crumbs in a design that's nearly identical to Tokyo's rail system."

The growth patterns are formed in the most efficient possible way, maximizing access to nutrients while expending the least amount of energy. The scientists leading this experiment at Hokkaido University in Japan arranged specks of food in the amoebae's dish to match the layout of the train system around Tokyo.

"They even added areas of bright light (which slime mold tends to avoid) to correspond to mountains or other geologic features that the trains would have to steer around", according to this article from MSNBC.

Thanks to David B. Bookless, AICP

Full Story: Better transit design through ... slime mold?



on a related note...

I've always thought the cul-de-sac patterns of sprawl look like the trails that leaf miners leave.

Prepare for the AICP* Exam

Join the thousands of students who have utilized the Planetizen AICP* Exam Preparation Class to prepare for the American Planning Association's AICP* exam.
Starting at $245
AICP CTP Storefont Display

The first online AICP* CTP exam prep class

Are you ready to take the AICP* Certified Transportation Planner exam?
Priced at $245 for May exam!

NEW! City Map Posters

Available in 9 different cities.
Book cover of the Guide to Graduate Planning Programs 4th Edition

Thinking about Grad School?

New! 4th Edition of the Planetizen Guide to Graduate Urban Planning Programs just released.
Starting at $24.95