Truth: Fungi experiment reorganized Tokyo subway – MonitoR7

The excerpt from an American podcast went viral on TikTok in the last week, with more than 180,000 likes and 1.7 million views. In the video of the recording, mycologist (biologist specializing in fungi) Paul Stamets says that the Japanese engineered a labyrinth of nutrients, simulating the subway system in Japan and in the capital, Tokyo, using a fungus and feeding it with oats.

This macroscopic being reorganized the structure more ingeniously, making the country’s public transport more efficient.

The interviewer, Joe Rogan, owner of the world’s most popular podcast, the Joe Regan Experience, puts his hands on his head, stunned by the information he’s heard.

Watch the video:

The program in question, recorded in 2017, went viral after a Brazilian profile on the short video network translated the excerpt.

Although the information about fungi “working” in the reorganization of the subway of one of the world’s greatest powers is unusual and difficult to imagine, it is true.

The study, published in the journal Science in January 2010, had the participation of Japanese and British researchers, who used the Physarum Polychephaluma type of gelatinous fungus that survives by sending appendages in all possible directions in search of food, to solve an urban mobility issue.

The researchers’ idea was to recreate the Japanese rail system, which had an archaic model, which did not connect regions outside Tokyo.

Although it seems a difficult situation to solve, it was basically up to the researchers to assemble, in miniature, a map that imitated the region of cities that surrounded the country’s capital, and on the points of the city, place oat flakes.

The fungus, needing to feed, went to the oat flakes and multiplied, exploring new territories.

After about 28 hours, the fungus built a network that connected itself through the nutrients acquired from the oats, and surprisingly, the design of the links between the cities was practically identical to that of the train system around Tokyo, but with a greater number. of tunnels, and more organized.

The video below shows the evolution of the experiment, with the fungus feeding and consequently organizing itself in that space, which simulates the railway system:

“Computers are not so good at analyzing the best routes that connect many base points because the computation volume becomes too big for them. […] But the molds of fungus, without calculating all the possible options, can flow over the areas in an improvised way and, little by little, find the best routes”, explains Atsushi Tero, who works at the University of Kyushu, in western Japan, who participated in the study.

*R7 intern, supervised by Filipe Siqueira

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