"[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