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Back to the Fun-gi: What Mushroom Action Potentials Have Taught Us

— Written by Luka Caric, Elsa Fedrigolli & Tom DesRosiers

Prepare yourselves for another round of mushroom-tastic journey as we delve into the captivating world of electrical potentials in mushrooms. Join us as we unfold the shocking truths, sprinkle in some mushroom humor, and discover the electrifying mysteries hidden within these fantastic fungi!

In our quest for mushroom marvels (as recounted in our introductory blog post), our team, “The Fungi Fanatics,” welcomed a “shocking” new member – Luka, an electrical engineer from the University of Belgrade. With his vast knowledge and electrifying chess skills (pun intended!), Luka was the perfect addition to tackle our electrical challenges and amplify our experiments to the next level!

Our first hurdle came in the form of a pesky amplifier problem. But fear not, for Luka was here to save the day with an ingenious solution. With each spark of brilliance, he conjured up new ways to amplify those elusive electrical signals from our mushroom friends, making us wonder if he had a secret stash of “electric mushrooms” up his sleeve!

Luka’s creativity knew no bounds! He cooked up a “mushroom square wave” that slowly charged and discharged through a capacitor, mimicking the mystical behavior of real mushrooms’ electrical potentials. It was a fungi-tastic idea that became our electrifying benchmark – our guiding light through the mushroom labyrinth.

Oh, the wonders of mushrooms – magical, but as fleeting as a lightning bolt! No matter how much we coaxed or begged, these fungi had their own schedule. Just like the fleeting sparks of an electrical storm, their fruiting bodies lasted for a mere 2-3 days. They left us yearning for more recordings, teasing us like elusive little lightning bugs!

In our pursuit of electrifying knowledge, we couldn’t resist an encounter with slime mold – the “mushroom-protist hybrid”, which also created a crossover between our project and the slime mold project of the fellowship! However, whenever we placed electrodes into the slime and into the mold – the mold would just move away from our electrode. How rude of them!

Another approach we used to avoid this was to place two silver coated nylon tapes into the slime and then place the mold on top of that in order to avoid the slime mold moving away from electrodes. This approach functioned quite well for us. However, the recordings were not conclusive enough due to problems with amplification.

While our mission was serious science, we knew how to have fun with fungi! Our mushroom-hunting escapades through Kalemegdan Park were like “treasure hunts” for hidden electrical potentials. And when the weekend brought forth those elusive mushrooms, we celebrated like true mushroom enthusiasts – with Rakija!

As our month-long expedition drew to a close, we were left with intriguing data, unforgettable memories, and a newfound appreciation for mushrooms and their electrifying potentials. Our journey may not have reached a definite conclusion, but the quest for knowledge never truly ends! So keep the spark alive, dear reader, and embrace the magic of mushrooms!

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