Physarum Chip: Growing Computers from Slime Mould
Self-growing computers? Optimised transport routes? Cell music? Distributed intelligence? Morphological computation?
The answer to these questions gives the slime mould Physarum polycephalum – a large single cell and the protagonist of the research project PhyChip.
Physarum polycephalum represents an enigmatic group of organisms known as the slime molds. Despite their name these organisms are not related with fungi, and form a genuine branch in the tree of life, beside plants, animals, and fungi. When Physarum takes up nutrient by its surface, the plasmodium will grow but still maintains coherence of the network structure. As a result, the network architecture is highly dynamic with flexible rearrangement of its junctions, following a decentralized protocol of organization.
This innovative project aims to build functional biomorphic computing devices operated by the slime mould Physarum polycephalum. We envisage that research and development centred on novel computing substrates, as self-assembled and fault-tolerant networks will lead to a revolution in the bio-electronics and computer industry. Combined with conventional electronic components in a hybrid chip, Physarum networks will radically improve the performance of digital and analog circuits.
The project will make a specific contribution to the fields of:
*Theory of computation
*Computer modeling in natural sciences
*Media art and transdisciplinary arts
*Public understanding of science