BLOB. Around 15,000 amateur scientists participate in a CNRS project

Volunteer researchers, like Isabel Lepermentier in Saint-Palais-sur-Mer near Rouen, are studying the impact of climate change on this strange “bug” that hasn’t uncovered all of its secrets yet.

Do they still have to present the star of the lab bench, the popular science blockbuster? Fans of the American B series surely remember this 1988 horror film where it threatened the very existence of the human species. his real name is physarum polycephalumBut we know him better by his pseudonym, which has made him world famous, BLOB, from TV shows to the International Space Station.

In her living room, a young retiree from Saint-Palais sur Mer, Isabel Leparmentier, has been hosting some of them for a week. Like 15,000 other amateur scientists, she has set up two “blob houses”, one in ambient air, the other under heating lamps and, every day, she observes, measures and photographs the behavior of these strange creatures. Guest.

“The idea is to subject the BLOB to a higher temperature than the ambient environment, then 24 hours at 30 degrees,” explains the former lab assistant. The unfolding and growth phase. For this experiment, it eats oatmeal and, for the results, 15,000 participants use the same brand. Similarly, at the bottom of the Petri box, we put agar, in this case agar – Particularly if of the brand “vehicle”. He’s greedy. He’s given a calibrated meal in the caps of soda bottles and I’m not sure that’s enough!

It was essential Toulouse researcher Audrey Dusutore who launched this CNRS participatory research project. About 50,000 amateurs have applied to participate. It is that, thanks to the blob, from conferences to radio or TV shows, to schools or nursing homes, and even in orbit around Earth with Thomas Pesquet, scientists from 2008 Have become official ambassadors—celled organisms without a brain or nervous system but with 720 brains and the ability to learn.

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“This is a project that, on the one hand, allows us to introduce people to the scientific method”, the ethicist tells us, “and, on the other hand, also to advance knowledge on global warming. Which is one of the major challenges. is one of the future. Do it. There, we ask them to be scientists and all of a sudden, it’s like I had 15,000 apprentices!”

So for several weeks, Isabel Lepermentier will look after her BLOB and faithfully follow the protocol established by the CNRS. “It’s serious and strong. They have the same point!”, he said in surprise, “Me, I got some slow stump that took a while to wake up, but it’s gone and I have four protocols to follow It takes me at least an hour every day. But apparently, he doesn’t really like heat waves. The amazing thing is that this creature has all the faculties, it adapts, it develops networks. Yes, he goes in search of food incredibly fast. But at first, we get him in the form of sewing thread affixed to a seal, but as soon as he wakes up after re-hydrating him , he is clearly growing”.

As you may have guessed, the project is a human adventure with this community of amateur researchers who are passionate about the oatmeal-eating bug, but also a life-size popular experiment to explain the daily lives of scientists.

“A lot of people tell us ‘We’re sorry, we made mistakes. The goal is to have real data that we can use. The oldest is 90 years old, there are also atonement centers and, especially in schools, this is A great educational tool”.

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Surely, BLOB never ceases to amaze its world. The first results of the experiment are expected next fall.

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About the Author: Abbott Hopkins

Analyst. Amateur problem solver. Wannabe internet expert. Coffee geek. Tv guru. Award-winning communicator. Food nerd.

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