Here’s one of the latest scientific “discovery” stories which will make you shrug and say “okay then science”- scientists have trained microbes to act out classic 80s video games like Pac-Man and Brick Breaker, the microbes desperately seeking a high score so their scientific overlords would be pleased with their performance.
Ingmar Riedel-Kruse, a bioengineer from Stanford, uses electric fields to control the microbes and move them in various directions, adding a single cell pond-dwelling paramecia as an avatar. Here’s how it works:
Changes in an electrical field can cause some species to alter their steering (a behavior called galvanotaxis). The microbes selected for the video games swim toward electricity using cilia that cover their bodies.
Object-detecting software turns the physical setup into a game by locating paramecia as they move around the chamber. Meanwhile, a video overlay enables the organisms to interact with digital images. In the game PAC-mecium, microbes “eat” pellets as they swim past them, and in soccer they “kick” the ball when they come into contact with its cartoon image.