How the common-or-garden slime mould helped physicists map the cosmic internet

A reconstruction of the cosmic web— a vast network of filamentary structures of matter spanning the universe—modeled on the growth patterns of slime mold.

Enlarge / A reconstruction of the cosmic internet— an enormous community of filamentary constructions of matter spanning the universe—modeled on the expansion patterns of slime mould. (credit score: Joseph N. Burchett et al./AJL)

There’s not often time to jot down about each cool science-y story that comes our approach. So this 12 months, we’re as soon as once more working a particular Twelve Days of Christmas sequence of posts, highlighting one science story that fell by means of the cracks in 2020, every day from December 25 by means of January 5. At present: how physicists used the expansion patterns of the common-or-garden slime mould to mannequin the darkish matter that makes up the filaments of the cosmic internet.

The spine of our cosmos is an enormous community of interconnected large filaments, with large voids in between. Many of the materials that makes up this “cosmic internet” is darkish matter, together with diffuse and distant fuel. Earlier this 12 months, a staff of scientists on the College of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC), devised a novel method to modeling this cosmic internet, based mostly on the expansion patterns of slime mould, and located some placing similarities. They described their method in a March paper revealed in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

“We do not suppose the universe was created by a large slime mould,” co-author Joseph Burchett instructed Ars, dashing our hopes of a novel new creation fantasy. “This actually comes right down to the similarities of the merchandise of those two very disparate processes. On the finish of the day, the similarities come up within the optimality of nature.”

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