Saturday, January 19, 2008

Amoebic Intelligence

I promise we will return to preliminary speculative discussions of alien technology soon but this topic in Physics News caught my eye due to previous contemplations on the importance of intelligence to survival - if intelligence is a natural and expected result of evolution, if it is a natural tendency, a natural law in our Universal Biology then the likelihood of other intelligent advanced beings existing in the universe increases.

"Amoebas Anticipate Climate Change," the Physics News Update reports January 3. In it, there is indication of a extremely rudimentary intelligence in these single celled creatures. For the presence of intelligence, even a very rudimentary one, to exist in the amoeba may indicate that intelligence is common - and that there is a strong evolutionary pressure, if you will, for it to arise and evolve.

Which also shows that Drake's original calculation for fi (percent of habited planets where intelligent life evolves) in his Drake Equation may be too low (he calculated 1%).
The American Institute of Physics Bulletin of Physics News
Number 852 January 3, 2008
by Phillip F. Schewe and Jason S. Bardi

AMOEBAS ANTICIPATE CLIMATE CHANGE A new experiment shows that amoebas will slow their motion in synch with periodic adverse changes in their environment, and will, as if in anticipation, even slow down when the adverse condition is not delivered. A team of scientists from Hokkaido University and the ATR Wave Engineering Laboratories in Japan cultured the single-celled slime mold Physarum polycephalum (a member of the amoeba clan) in a bed of oat flakes on agar. Every ten minutes the air was made slightly cooler and drier, which had the effect of slowing the movement of the amoebas down a narrow lane. Then more favorable air would be restored and the motion continued as before. After several cycles, the amoebas slowed even when the adverse conditions did not materialize. Later still, when the organisms have been tricked into anticipating impending climate change several times, they refrain from slowing without an actual change in conditions. One of the researchers, Toshiyuki Nakagaki from Hokkaido (, cautions that amoebas do not have a brain and that this is not example of classic *Pavlovian* conditioned response behavior. Nevertheless, it might represent more evidence for a primitive sensitivity or *intelligence* based on the dynamic behavior of the tubular structures deployed by the amoeba. (Saigusa et al., Physical Review Letters, 11 January 2008; journalists can obtain the article from
The above quoted article "is provided free of charge as a way of broadly disseminating information about physics and physicists. For that reason, you are free to post it, if you like, where others can read it, providing only that you credit AIP."

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