Science Of...

Scientists Made A Pac-Man Maze For Microorganisms

Excited for today's eclipse? Visit our Eclipse 2017 page to explore the science, history, and myths of the event. The Curiosity team will be viewing the eclipse alongside NASA in Carbondale, Illinois. Follow us on Facebook for live videos, trivia, and interviews today!

At first glance, the maze built by researchers at University College of Southeast Norway looks just like the one in the classic Pac-Man game. There are important differences, however. Instead of Pac-Man, there are green, rod-shaped Euglena and round, silver Ciliates, each a type of single-celled organism. Instead of being hunted by Ghosts, they're hunted by big multicellular rotifers. And instead of being the size of an arcade console, the maze is only 1 millimeter in diameter. The project might sound silly, but the researchers had good reasons for creating the Pac-Man maze. For one thing, a rich environment with walls and channels to maneuver through gives scientists a better idea of how the animals behave in the wild than a plain petri dish would. This, in turn, serves as a demonstration of how micro- and nano-systems technology can make for better biological research. Explore the science of microorganisms in the videos below.

Microscopic Pac-Man Maze

University College of Southeast Norway / Adam Bartley

Microscopic Pac-Man

Watch single-celled organisms flee from multicellular rotifers in a teeny-tiny game of Pac-Man.

How Do Microbes Move?

Learn how different microorganisms get around (through some pretty silly interpretive dance).

Share the knowledge!

What Can We Learn By Watching Bacteria?

Find out what scientists have discovered about the way certain bacteria behaves.

If you liked this you'll love our podcast! Check it out on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play Music, SoundCloud, search 'curiosity' on your favorite podcast app or add the RSS Feed URL.