We were inspired by (i) a desire to work on a cellular automata model rather than the differential equation models that we see more of in physics work and (ii) the incredible graph-theoretic and otherwise (we had to resist the urge to delve into more theoretical connections such as those in this paper) impressive properties of this wacky group of Eukaryotes.

What it does

Our model you a digital petri dish and a personal slime mold sample to observe, as well as the freedom to modify its properties and discover (probably) never-before-seen emergent properties of the model.

How we built it

We used p5.js, a JavaScript animation library, as well as some basic static-site HTML and CSS to build the animation. We also were lucky to have the help of one particularly unlucky Trottier computer who was tasked with pre-rendering the significantly higher resolution simulation that appears near the end of our project (poor CPU, if only we knew how to write GLSL on the web).

Challenges we ran into

Building a model that we could be happy with and making the simulation performant were the biggest challenges that we faced, and a 2:00 AM struggle session had us exploring everything from Ising model melt ponds to the Belousov–Zhabotinsky reaction as alternative projects. Thankfully we did not do that.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

We're very proud of the final product we ended up with despite the setbacks we faced, and the information that we were able to supplement our interactive simulation on the webpage with! We were also more productive than we had expected, and we worked hard to make the project we had envisioned a reality.

What we learned

We all learned how to use p5, as well as gaining some experience working with cellular automata and natural science modelling. We also gained some more experience with keeping our noses to the grindstone despite intense sleep deprivation (although some of us may have fallen victim to half-hour naps at times).

What's next for My Way or the Slime Way

As alluded to earlier, we'd love to rewrite the model closer to the metal with GLSL shaders to make real-time simulations at larger sizes feasible. We also would love to look more into the theoretical properties of slime molds and perhaps work on something that more explicitly involves teasing out graphs and spanning trees from the patterns generated by the model, so keep an eye out for that!

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