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500x_paramecio-pacman

Illustration courtesy of Gizmodo.com

BEHOLD – A universe where videogames come to life thanks to amazing microorganisms.

Scientists at Stanford University Bioengineering department, lead by professor Ingmar Riedel-Kruse, created a real world Pac-Man using microorganisms called paramecium to gobble up little balls. The game is aptly called, PAC-mecium.

The controls are simple. You control a paramecium via a joystick that will change the polarity of a mild electrical field applied to a chamber containing the “PAC-mecium”, which influences the direction the animal will move. Everything is viewed on a a computer screen which also keeps your score.
I wonder, what is the highest score on the game, and what three letter initials would they use?

According to an article from The Register, Prof. Riedel-Kruse hopes that this game, among with others created by his lab, will show students and the general public how amazing microorganisms can be. And trust me, they are truly incredible animals.

Riedel-Kruse and his Stanford colleagues set up the tiny, living Pac-Man game by placing paramecia in a small fluid chamber, which is viewed through a microscope by a camera – which then relays images to the video game screen. The player controls the paramecium using a normal game controller which is hooked up to equipment that “controls the polarity of a mild electrical field applied across the fluid chamber, which influences the direction the paramecia move”. Score is kept by a computer tracking the paramecia on the video.

The game-fancying boffins have also set up live versions of other games, dubbed “POND PONG”, “Ciliaball” and “Biotic Pinball”. In Biotic Pinball, the paramecia play the part of rolling balls and the paddles are supplied by squirting “occasional whiffs of a chemical into the fluid, causing the paramecia to swim in one direction or another”.

Am I the only one who rather badly wants to play those game? Do you have any ingenious ways to re-invent old school arcade games?

Let me know what you think in the comments!

Category: Nerd Culture, Videogames

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