back to article Get your very own open source nematode

A project to create a complete computer simulation of a nematode called Caenorhabditis elegans has taken a small step forward, releasing a model showing the operation of a group of the worm's muscles. The OpenWorm project has been working on its virtual nematode since December 2011, with the ambitious aim of modelling the …


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  1. Suricou Raven

    Scan it.

    Maybe they should work on an automated organism scanner: Freeze worm, then slice it a layer at a time and scan. That way it'd be possible, with enough refinement, to capture very precise data about the neural wiring. Which cell goes where. The first step towards brain uploading. First the worm, then me.

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Re: Scan it.

      Leading to:

    2. vellamike

      Re: Scan it.

      Mike Vella from the OpenWorm project here. this kind of data already exists - which is what makes C Elegans such an exciting organism to try and model! Check out our OpenWorm browser for a 3D visualisation of the neural network and physical layout of the nematode:

      1. Suricou Raven

        Re: Scan it.

        Seen it before. It's a good guide, yes, but it isn't *a* worm. It's a composite of many, many worms. Certainly impressive and a good first step, but the obvious next step would be to find a way to scan individual worms so you could compare their wiring, and study how environment affects it.

  2. MondoMan
    Thumb Up


    One of the reasons the nematode c. elegans was chosen for this project is that it is made up of about 1000 cells, and the developmental pathway (progenitor cells on back to the single-cell stage) is fully worked out and almost completely deterministic. All very cool, and the three prime honchos who brought c. elegans out of bacteria-gulping obscurity to become one of the top model organisms (Brenner, Horvitz, and Sulston) got the Nobel Prize for their work in 2002.

  3. hplasm

    Its it written...

    in elegant C?

  4. Robin Bradshaw

    Why such a complex creature :)

    Would it not have been easier to start by modelling a simpler lower form of life, like politicians?

    But seriously this is impressive, i look forward to the day I can design and simulate a custom worm on my computer then send off the models dna to a lab and get a packet of custom attack nematodes back in the post, it will be awesome.

  5. Martin Budden Silver badge

    I was taught at school (therefore this may be false) that different species of nematode have evolved to live in the earring holes of people with different grades of earring gold: a species to go with 9 carat, a species to go with 18 carat, and a species to go with 24 carat. Amazing if true.

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