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24 April 2014 11:45 am ,
Vol. 344 ,
Major climate data sets have underestimated the rate of global warming in the last 15 years owing largely to poor data...
The tsetse fly is best known as the vector for the trypanosome parasites that cause sleeping sickness and a disease in...
The National Institutes of Health is revising its "two strikes" rule, which allowed researchers only one chance to...
By stabilizing the components of retromers, molecular complexes that act like recycling bins in cells, a recently...
Fossil fuels power modern society by generating heat, but much of that heat is wasted. Semiconductor devices called...
Researchers are gaining insights into what made Supertyphoon Haiyan so powerful and devastating through post-storm...
Millions around the world got a first-hand look at what it was like to be in Tacloban while it was pummeled by...
- 24 April 2014 11:45 am , Vol. 344 , #6182
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ScienceShot: Even Slime Molds Make Mistakes
7 September 2010 7:01 pm
Just because an organism doesn’t have a brain doesn’t mean it can’t think. Researchers gave single-celled slime molds a “food test”: In the easy exam, the funguslike organisms had to decide between eating 2%, 6%, or 10% concentrations of oatmeal in inedible agar—a fairly clear distinction. In the hard exam, they had to choose between oatmeal concentrations of 6%, 8%, or 10%—a more subtle difference. Molds that chose faster were five times more likely to choose the worst possible option. But they didn’t always respond like humans do. When comfortable, the organisms made quick decisions if the choice was easy and took their time if it was hard. But when the team starved the molds or shined harsh light on them, they chose faster when the choice was hard and slower when it was easy. This counterintuitive behavior may be related to risk, the researchers will report online tomorrow in Proceedings of the Royal Society B. In the hard exam, the worst possible option (6%) wasn’t so bad, but in the easy exam, the worst option (2%) was dismal. So hungry molds had a lot to lose if they chose wrong.
See more ScienceShots.