Recent research reveals that the bacteria that help us digest food also influence what’s on our minds. The discovery that these microbial partners are our collaborators in cogitation as well as digestion unfortunately coincides with a separate study suggesting antibiotics can kill off gut bacteria permanently.

The good news:

“Hundreds of species of bacteria call the human gut their home. This gut ‘microbiome’ influences our physiology and health in ways that scientists are only beginning to understand. Now, a new study suggests that gut bacteria can even mess with the mind, altering brain chemistry and changing mood and behavior (abstract).”

http://science.slashdot.org/story/11/08/29/2026226/Gut-Bacteria-Exert-Mind-Control

The bad news:

Helpful bacteria in our intestines take a pounding during an antibiotics treatment, but normally recover. Or so we thought. A new study suggests the drugs may permanently alter collections of healthy microbes in pregnant women and young children — for worse.

http://feeds.wired.com/~r/wired/index/~3/KSqAxKXEVQg/

Thought up a foldable power-cord or a new device for straining pasta? Pitch it to “social product-development” Web site Quirky, where crowdsourcing meets professionals.

Now if only Quirky didn’t outsource its manufacturing to China. Maybe someone could launch a site that connects local ideas to local fabricators. (Any of your neighbors have 3D printers…?)

“Quirky was based on my realization of how hard it is to find a manufacturer, get financing (and) know all the disciplines like industrial design, mechanical engineering, prototyping, merchandising, retail logistics,” [Ben] Kaufman, 24, told Wired.com by phone. “All these things need to come together just to push one little product out into the real world. Basically, if you have the right idea, we’ll do all the heavy lifting to make the idea you have in your head see the light of day.”

http://feeds.wired.com/~r/wired/index/~3/pBPTlR7_CjA/

As new laws force ISPs to become copyright cops, the ramifications of intellectual property in the digital age just get more and more absurd.

Anti-Piracy Lawyers Accuse Blind Man of Downloading Films

“As the mass-lawsuits against BitTorrent users in the United States drag on, detail on the collateral damage this extortion-like scheme is costing becomes clear. It is likely that thousands of people have been wrongfully accused of sharing copyrighted material, yet they see no other option than to pay up. One of the cases that stands out is that of a California man who’s incapable of watching the adult film he is accused of sharing because he is legally blind.”

http://yro.slashdot.org/story/11/08/16/2346248/Anti-Piracy-Lawyers-Accuse-Blind-Man-of-Downloading-Films

Maybe he just liked the music?

Can a Monkey Get a Copyright & Issue a Takedown?

“Last week, the Daily Mail published a story about some monkeys in Indonesia who happened upon a camera and took some photos of themselves. The photos are quite cute. However, Techdirt noticed that the photos had copyright notices on them, and started a discussion over who actually held the copyright in question, noting that, if anyone did, the monkeys had the best claim, and certainly not the photographer. Yet, the news agency who claimed copyright issued a takedown to Techdirt! When presented with the point that it’s unlikely the news agency could hold a legitimate copyright, the agency told Techdirt it didn’t matter. Techdirt claims that using the photos for such a discussion is a clear case of fair use, an argument which has so far been ignored.”

http://yro.slashdot.org/story/11/07/13/0033214/Can-a-Monkey-Get-a-Copyright-amp-Issue-a-Takedown

“Dice Age,” sounds like…?

Dice Age — Indie Gaming Project vs. Hollywood

“Dice Age, a independent game project that raised nearly $35K through Kickstarter, is apparently facing some scrutiny from a certain movie studio that has produced movies with a similar name. From the latest project update: ‘As if the Ice Age was exclusively the name of a movie, or if Dice Age was a movie itself, the 20th century fox has just asked for an extent of time (till 10-26-2011) to oppose to the registering of our beloved Dice Age game name. My point of view, as a scientist, is the Ice age is a geological era before it is a movie.”"

http://games.slashdot.org/story/11/07/29/2114234/emDice-Ageem-mdash-Indie-Gaming-Project-vs-Hollywood

Wendy Seltzer is an ace cyberlawyer who’s worked with Still Water to craft more enlightened forms of intellectual property law.

ISPs Will Now Be Copyright Cops

“Wendy Seltzer, Fellow at Princeton University’s Center for Information Technology Policy, talks about the new plan by ISPs and content providers to ‘crack down on what users can do with their internet connections’ using a 6-step warning system to curb online copyright infringement.”

http://yro.slashdot.org/story/11/08/06/235206/ISPs-Will-Now-Be-Copyright-Cops

Looks like six is the new three:

“American Internet users, get ready for three strikes^W^W ‘six strikes.’ Major US Internet providers — including AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, Cablevision, and Time Warner Cable — have just signed on to a voluntary agreement with the movie and music businesses to crack down on online copyright infringers. But they will protect subscriber privacy and they won’t filter or monitor their own networks for infringement. And after the sixth ‘strike,’ you won’t necessarily be ‘out.’” It’s not suspicious at all that most of the ISPs signing on for this are owned by or own media companies.

http://yro.slashdot.org/story/11/07/07/1644240/Media-Companies-Create-Copyright-Enforcement-Framework

On the pro-sharing front:

A federal judge ruled Monday that publishing an entire article without the rights holder’s authorization was a fair use of the work, in yet another blow to newspaper copyright troll Righthaven. It’s not often that republishing an entire work without permission is deemed fair use.

http://feeds.wired.com/~r/wired/index/~3/SDLVTXCwy2k/

A federal judge backed the music storage-locker business model Monday while ruling that companies may develop services that store their customers’ songs in the cloud. The closely watched case brought by EMI against MP3tunes comes as Amazon and Google recently launched similar services without the music labels’ consent. Apple is expected to launch a cloud-storage service… http://feeds.wired.com/~r/wired/index/~3/XGIJztQaOPw/

Who knew? Maybe the Pirate Bay should start an ecommerce site called Arrrrmazon.com.

Suppressed Report Shows Pirates Are Good Customers

“The movie and music industry think pirates are criminals and parasites who cost both industries billions of dollars in lost sales. In order to prove this fact a number of studies have been commissioned to help demonstrate the effect a pirate has on sales of entertainment. GfK Group is one of the largest market research companies in the world and is often used by the movie industry to carry out research and studies into piracy. Talking to a source within GfK who wished to remain anonymous, Telepolis found that a recent study looking at pirates and their purchasing activities found them to be almost the complete opposite of the criminal parasites the entertainment industry want them to be. The study states that it is much more typical for a pirate to download an illegal copy of a movie to try it before purchasing. They are also found to purchase more DVDs than the average consumer, and they visit the movie theater more, especially for opening weekend releases which typically cost more to attend.”

http://yro.slashdot.org/story/11/07/20/2119232/Suppressed-Report-Shows-Pirates-Are-Good-Customers

Flickr FTW; Facebook WTF.

The Flickr circles you draw on your map are refreshingly intuitive.

Flickr, the granddaddy of online photo sharing, has introduced some refreshingly simple privacy controls designed to limit who can see where your photos were taken. Facebook, please start your photocopiers.

http://feeds.wired.com/~r/wired/index/~3/KZ2MRAa0E7E/

Sadly, Facebook seems to have botched its approach to privacy yet again.

Blogger Dan Tynan was one of the recipients of the new privacy controls that Facebook promised last week. The bad news: They still don’t work, and may even be worse than before. ‘Using Facebook’s new improved privacy controls, you can tag someone else in photo and then keep them from seeing it,’ says Tynan. ‘It’s pretty simple; just change the sharing option so they don’t see what you posted. So if you want to tag a picture of some jerk with your friend’s name on it and make it Public, everyone on Facebook will be able to see it except one — the person whose name is on it.

http://yro.slashdot.org/story/11/08/29/1644259/Facebooks-New-Privacy-Controls-Still-Broken

A bunch of anarchist hackers, the Graffiti Research Lab, and an entrepreneur named Mick Ebeling hack together an eye-tracking device that enables a paralyzed former graffiti artist to draw on the parking lot outside his hospital window.

The nerve disease ALS left graffiti artist TEMPT paralyzed from head to toe, forced to communicate blink by blink. In a remarkable talk at TEDActive, entrepreneur Mick Ebeling shares how he and a team of collaborators built an open-source invention that gave the artist — and gives others in his circumstance — the means to make art again.

Governments and vigilantes are using Facebook and other social media to identify and jail protesters–even if they never left their keyboards.

A Chat With Zavilia, a Tool For Identifying Rioters

“Social media isn’t just great for starting ‘social unrest,’ it’s proving to be quite helpful for quashing it too. Not long after the bricks began to fly in London’s latest kerfuffle, locals angry over raging mobs scrambled to assist the police in their attempt to identify street-fighters and free-for-all hooligans … Now with more than 1,000 people charged over the chaos, a few citizen groups continue to provide web-based rioter identification platforms, in hopes of being good subjects, maintaining the country’s pursuit of order, and keeping their neighborhoods safe.”

http://it.slashdot.org/story/11/08/19/0248220/A-Chat-With-Zavilia-a-Tool-For-Identifying-Rioters

In Britain, a Meeting on Limiting Social Media

Government officials and representatives of Twitter, Facebook and BlackBerry met to discuss voluntary ways to limit or restrict the use of social media to combat crime and periods of civil unrest.

http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=bc98f459d24fe76a1cb358676020620b

UK Men Get 4 Years For Trying to Incite Riots Via Facebook

“In addition to the 12 arrests from last week, a judge has sentenced 20-year-old Jordan Blackshaw and 22-year-old Perry Sutcliffe-Keenan to four years in prison for their failed attempts to use Facebook to incite riots in the UK. The judge said he hoped the sentences would act as a deterrent. The two men were convicted for using Facebook to encourage violent disorder in their hometowns in northwest England.”

http://yro.slashdot.org/story/11/08/18/0224214/UK-Men-Get-4-Years-For-Trying-to-Incite-Riots-Via-Facebook

Slashdot / Soulskill nonprofiteer writes “A bunch of vigilantes are organizing a Google Group dedicated to using recently revealed facial recognition tools to identify looters in the London riots. While Vancouver discussed doing something similar after the Stanley Cup riots, the city never actually moved forward on it. Ring of Steel London, though, is far more likely to incorporate FRT into its investigative work.” A related article points out how development of face-recognition technology has been kept under wraps by some organizations, but we’re getting to the point where it’ll soon be ubiquitous.

http://yro.slashdot.org/story/11/08/10/062225/The-London-Riots-and-Facial-Recognition-Technology

When police and vigilantes fail, there’s always PayPal.

PayPal Joins London Police Effort

“PayPal has joined a music copyright association and the City of London police department’s bid to financially starve websites deemed ‘illegal.’ When presented with sufficient evidence of unlicensed downloading from a site, the United Kingdom’s PayPal branch ‘will require the retailer to submit proof of licensing for the music offered by the retailer,’ said the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry’s latest press release.”

http://yro.slashdot.org/story/11/07/22/2345217/PayPal-Joins-London-Police-Effort

Meanwhile, Egyptian activists are getting in trouble for what they post on Facebook.

Egyptian Charged For Threatening Facebook Post

“The Egyptian Military Prosecution has charged 26-year-old activist and blogger Asmaa Mahfouz for allegedly defaming the country’s ruling generals and calling for armed operations against the military and the judiciary. Mahfouz, a prominent activist, was accused of using Facebook to call for the assassinations of Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) members and certain judges.”

http://yro.slashdot.org/story/11/08/15/0156222/Egyptian-Charged-For-Threatening-Facebook-Post

Librarians loaning out people and companies replacing bots with humans is both sensible and creepy. Is this newest form of human capital just an innocent way to reverse unemployment through automation, or a prelude to The Matrix?

If I’m gonna be a battery, I hope I get to be rechargeable.

Canadian Library to Loan Out People

Wouldn’t it be easier to learn Chinese from a native speaker than from a book, or explore a religion from an actual practitioner rather than words on a page? A library in Surrey, B.C. thinks so and has introduced a “human library” program. Visitors will be able to “check-out” real people to learn about their experiences and specific knowledge. From the article: “…The goal is to break down stereotypes and start discussions, said deputy chief librarian Melanie Houlden. ‘What we’re aiming to do is bring the library to life for people. There are huge repositories of experience and knowledge in their own brains,’ she said.” As long as you stay out of the horror section, this sounds like a great idea.

http://news.slashdot.org/story/11/08/19/1437249/Canadian-Library-to-Loan-Out-People

Crowdsourcing Makes an API For Human Intelligence “A startup called MobileWorks claims to offer human-level intelligence to any piece of software, with APIs for image, text or speech processing that crowdsource tasks to workers in India. Unlike Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, jobs can be sent in by software without human help and can also be completed in “real time” with a turnaround of a few seconds. The company claims that for problems like OCR and image recognition it makes more sense to find ways to use human intelligence than developing complex custom algorithms.” Not a bad plan — sounds like they’ve lifting a page from the business model of captcha-cracking spammers.

http://developers.slashdot.org/story/11/08/29/2231258/Crowdsourcing-Makes-an-API-For-Human-Intelligence

Why write a bot that spams people with Viagra ads when you can write a bot that just wrings coins directly out of their computer chip?

For the uninitiated, Bitcoins are a digital currency that can be minted from excess CPU cycles of a computer and used in a variety of Internet contexts. More on Bitcoins:

http://www.nmdnet.org/2011/06/12/is-bitcoin-the-future-of-money/

So the money being “stolen” is not existing cash that is somehow withdrawn from your bank account or charged to your credit card, but is new money “printed” when your computer is hijacked by the malware.

This is kind of like breaking into an alchemist’s shop and making gold from his leftover iron.

GPGPU Bitcoin Mining Trojan

“Security researchers have unearthed a piece of malware that mints a digital currency known as Bitcoins by harnessing the immense power of an infected machine’s graphical processing units. According to new research from antivirus provider Symantec, Trojan.Badminer uses GPUs to generate virtual coins through a practice known as minting. That’s the term for solving difficult cryptographic proof-of-work problems and being rewarded with 50 Bitcoins for each per correct block.”

A man who lost both legs will be running for South Africa at the 2011 World Athletics Championships, thanks to metal blades where his legs used to be.

It’s easy to cry unfair, but perhaps a bit harder to sort out why his advantage is that much different from the “natural” advantage of, say, tall basketball players.

“The world’s first mechanically augmented athlete, Oscar Pistorius, will now compete against unaugmented peers on behalf of South Africa. He’ll be running in the 400m and 4x400m relay at the World Athletics 2011 Championships. Pistorius, a double leg amputee, has had special leg blades crafted for him that allow him to compete against his peers. He’s fought hard to prove they provide no advantage, and according to IAAF they do not. This should be a very interesting race to watch. His nickname: The Blade Runner.”

http://science.slashdot.org/story/11/08/09/0118202/Worlds-First-Cybernetic-Athlete-To-Compete

Two days after Aaron Swartz is accused of downloading a huge swath of academic journal articles from the paywalled site JSTOR, another activist has posted a similar trove to the notorious Web site Pirate Bay. What happens when academics espouse plagiarism?

Continue reading »

Conventional wisdom has it that internships are the next best thing to an entry-level job, especially when there are few jobs to be found. But some are questioning the value of unpaid internships.

(Unpaid internships were a staple of the New York art world in the 1990s, because there were few other ways to break into the business. And while many were spent faxing, photocopying and filing, that was an accurate if sad reflection on entry-level jobs.)

Calling BS On Unpaid Internships

http://news.slashdot.org/story/11/07/02/1925227/Calling-BS-On-Unpaid-Internships “Getting an intern is so hot right now,’ writes Stewart Curry. ‘It’s also bull**** 99% of the time.’ IrishStu also provides his list of Interning’s Big Lies: 1. ‘You’ll get training.’ 2. ‘We might hire you after the internship.’ 3. ‘You get to work with an awesome team.’ 4. ‘It will look great on your CV.’ 5. ‘You’ll make great contacts.’ So, who does it really hurt, Stu? ‘Here’s who it hurts — interns. You have them working for nothing. Here’s who it hurts — people who need a wage in order to survive. Here’s who it hurts — companies that want to pay people a decent wage for work they do.’ Inside Higher Ed also checks in on The Great Intern Debate.”

For all it’s disdain of internships, Slashdot isn’t exactly sanguine about certificates as an alternative–unless you roll your own.

Ask Slashdot: Best Certifications To Get? http://ask.slashdot.org/story/11/05/31/0153235/Ask-Slashdot-Best-Certifications-To-Get “Our recent discussion about how much your degree is worth got me thinking. I’ve been working in the IT field for several years now, but I don’t have anything to my name other than an A+ certificate and vendor specific training (e.g., Dell certified). Now I’m looking to move up in the IT field, and I want some stuff on my resume to demonstrate to future employers that I know what I’m doing, enough that I can get in the door for an interview. So my question to Slashdot is this: What certifications are the most valuable and sought-after? What will impress potential employers and be most likely to help land a decent job for someone who doesn’t have a degree, but knows how to troubleshoot and can do a bit of programming if needed?”

At the same time that the Obama administration is underwriting hardware for helping citizens of other countries circumvent their own government’s Internet censorship, Apple is patenting a camera that performs a government’s censorship for it.

Continue reading »

Why buy your own car/CDs/power tools, when your neighbors already have loads of them?

Rachel Botsman makes the case:

http://www.ted.com/talks/rachel_botsman_the_case_for_collaborative_consumption.html

NeighborGoods is already up to 2.0:

http://www.wired.com/beyond_the_beyond/2011/03/neighborgoods-kickstarter/ (Via Bruce Sterling).

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/mickipedia/neighbors-helping-neighborgoods

Thanks to you, NeighborGoods has quickly become the leading online community for local resource sharing. Now, we’re reaching out directly to our members to help us take NeighborGoods to the next level.

We’re gearing up to launch NeighborGoods 2.0, which focuses on creating sharing communities for organizations, companies and and groups of all sizes.

Smartphones help:

People will ditch their cars and embrace mass transit if they have the tools to manage their commutes. Enter the smartphone … http://feeds.wired.com/~r/wired/index/~3/iPSyBkh6X_g/ Xatori unveils a free iPhone app that enables drivers to punch in their destinations and locate outlet owners who are willing to share. http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=fa66fe847e6ccd56e61dde5770c4ffbf

Now, to Find a Parking Spot, Drivers Look on Their Phones http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=d9838be80c3361a169de04e52c21ba99

And Zipcar’s IPO is meteoric:

http://feeds.wired.com/~r/wired/index/~3/vQEd37Mmv0A/ via Byline

Zipcar raises $174 million and sees its stock price soar a whopping 60 percent in its first day as a public company. The decade-old car sharing company, maybe the most disruptive entrant in the automobile rental space since Rent-A-Wreck, is now a billion-dollar operation.

The Pirate Party of Canada has threatened to unleash its anti-surveillance software on its own government, promising to let Canadian citizens browse safely under a Virtual Private Network.

http://yro.slashdot.org/story/11/04/23/0534222/Pirate-Party-of-Canada-Promises-VPN-For-Freedom?utm_source=rss1.0&utm_medium=feed via Byline

“The Pirate Party of Canada has announced that it will extend a VPN originally set up to allow people in Tunisia to browse freely while internet censorship was imposed there. Canada may soon be added to that list since the ruling Conservative Party has vowed to introduce a bill that would provide unprecedented systematic interception and monitoring of Canadians’ personal communications. So the Pirate Party of Canada has announced it will extend that service to Canadians.”

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Meanwhile, back in north Africa…

http://mobile.slashdot.org/story/11/04/13/1326255/Engineers-Hijack-Libyan-Phone-Network-For-Rebels?utm_source=rss1.0&utm_medium=feed via Byline

“A team led by a Libyan-American telecom executive has helped rebels hijack Col. Moammar Gadhafi’s cellphone network and re-establish their own communications. The new network, first plotted on an airplane napkin and assembled with the help of oil-rich Arab nations, is giving more than two million Libyans their first connections to each other and the outside world after Col. Gadhafi cut off their telephone and Internet service about a month ago.”

Iphone Tracker Ippolito 2011 01 19Privacy advocates Alasdair Allan and Pete Warden have released a free visualization tool to demonstrate how the iPhone stores your movements in a file easily accessible by anyone with access to your phone or computer. (Shown here, my January 19th presence in the Philadelphia International Airport.)

Nothing like a good visualization of your own movements to give you the creeps.

Continue reading »

Remember that meme going around a few years back where certain dance beats could hack teen brains? Well, apparently it works for cars.

http://it.slashdot.org/story/11/03/12/0114219/Hacking-a-Car-With-Music?from=rss via Byline

“Researchers at the University of California, San Diego, and the University of Washington have identified a handful of ways a hacker could break into a car, including attacks over the car’s Bluetooth and cellular network systems, or through malicious software in the diagnostic tools used in automotive repair shops. But their most interesting attack focused on the car stereo. By adding extra code to a digital music file, they were able to turn a song burned to CD into a Trojan horse. When played on the car’s stereo, this song could alter the firmware of the car’s stereo system, giving attackers an entry point to change other components on the car. This type of attack could be spread on file-sharing networks without arousing suspicion, they believe. ‘It’s hard to think of something more innocuous than a song,’ said Stefan Savage, a professor at the University of California.”

So next time your car doesn’t start or insists on turning right instead of left, blame those tunes you downloaded from Limewire.

In seemingly unrelated news, the music industry is suing Limewire for 75 trillion dollars. I imagine if the RIAA got wind of professor Savage’s research, they would up the number into the quadrillions.

http://yro.slashdot.org/story/11/03/23/1930238/Limewire-Being-Sued-For-75-Trillion?from=rss via Byline

“13 record companies are trying to sue Limewire for $75 Trillion. The NYC judge in the case thinks it is ‘absurd’. Its almost like these media companies are their worst enemy trying to make themselves look ridiculous. From the article: “The record companies, which had demanded damages ranging from $400 billion to $75 trillion, had argued that Section 504(c)(1) of the Copyright Act provided for damages for each instance of infringement where two or more parties were liable. For a popular site like Lime Wire, which had thousands of users and millions of downloads, Wood held that the damage award would be staggering under this interpretation. ‘If plaintiffs were able to pursue a statutory damage theory predicated on the number of direct infringers per work, defendants’ damages could reach into the trillions,’ she wrote. ‘As defendants note, plaintiffs are suggesting an award that is more money than the entire music recording industry has made since Edison’s invention of the phonograph in 1877.’”

Over the past month, new media scholars have spilled a lot of digital ink arguing whether the Internet actually fostered the 2011 revolution in Egypt, Tunisia, and other Middle East countries–or whether it simply created a dependency that governments can shut down to stymie protesters. Here’s a “Middle East Internet Scorecard” showing where and when governments have cut off their citizens’ access to the net. 

How hard would it be for, say, President Beck to shut down Google, Facebook, and the like in the US of A? Read this Middle East censorship roundup to find out what Egyptians, Libyans, and the rest of us can do to safeguard access to a global electronic network.

Continue reading »

Conspiracy theorists think this app could be used to detect drivers who pick up the phone to text, which is illegal on some states. But given the size of Maine’s potholes, it could also help locate cars that have disappeared into them.

http://apple.slashdot.org/story/11/02/10/0235239/Gov-App-Detects-Potholes-As-Your-Drive-Over-Them?from=rss via Byline An anonymous reader writes “The City of Boston has released an app that uses the accelerometer in your smartphone to automatically report bumps in the road as you drive over them. From the article: ‘The application relies on two components embedded in iPhones, Android phones, and many other mobile devices: the accelerometer and the Global Positioning System receiver. The accelerometer, which determines the direction and acceleration of a phone’s movement, can be harnessed to identify when a phone resting on a dashboard or in a cupholder in a moving car has hit a bump; the GPS receiver can determine by satellite just where that bump is located.’ I am certain that this will not be used to track your movements, unless they are vertical.”

In January Facebook staff realized that the Tunisian government had installed software that tracked its citizens in unconscionable ways. Fortunately Facebook has now repaired that glaring security hole, and returned to its usual routine of tracking its own users in unconscionable ways. Like putting your face on Starbucks ads without your permission.

Continue reading »

Just when you thought slime molds, which alternate between individual and collective organisms, couldn’t get any weirder.

If amoebas can grow their own food, you have even less of an excuse for not doing so yourself. And no, Farmville doesn’t count.

Slime Molds Are Earth’s Smallest, Oldest Farmers http://feeds.wired.com/~r/wired/index/~3/7UzmakhSZzY/ via Byline Colonies of a bizarre microbial goo have been found practicing agriculture at a scale tinier than any seen before….

When food is short, hundreds of thousands of amoebas come together, fusing into a single entity. It may crawl off as a slug in search of richer pastures, then form a stalk topped by a “fruiting body” that bursts to disperse a few lucky amoebas-turned-spores. Or it may form the stalk right away, without crawling.

It’s been thought that slime molds simply scavenge, eating bacteria they like and oozing out the rest. In laboratories, researchers “cure” slime molds of their bacteria by allowing them to purge themselves on Petri dishes. But Brock, who studies how slime-mold cells communicate and self-organize, kept finding bacteria in the fruiting bodies of some slime molds and not others….

They found that some strains didn’t gorge themselves and “lick the plate clean” of bacteria, but instead saved some inside of the colony. They were farmers, and fared better in some soils than their nonfarming counterparts.

From the original article:

“The behavior falls short of the kind of ‘farming’ that more advanced animals do; ants, for example, nurture a single fungus species that no longer exists in the wild. But the idea that an amoeba that spends much of its life as a single-celled organism could hold short of consuming a food supply before decamping is an astonishing one. More than just a snack for the journey of dispersal, the idea is that the bacteria that travel with the spores can ‘seed’ a new bacterial colony, and thus a food source in case the new locale should be lacking in bacteria.”

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