In “Planetary Danger”, a science fiction film released in 1958, the blob, an alien creature that looks like a giant chewing gum, was based on a small town in the United States. Both playful and erudite, this documentary sets the record straight by rehabilitating the Physarum polycephalum, the other name for this unicellular organism that can do just about anything. Born more than a billion years ago, the UFO, devoid of limbs, nervous system and brain, moves thanks to its venous network (it is 1 centimeter per hour, 4 when, hungry , he puts the turbo).
A possible contender for the title of savior of humanity
Audrey Dussutour, a very serious ethologist but also a bit mischievous, has devoted many experiences to the one who at first seemed to her to resemble “An old omelet”, able to dry up when it lacks food and then to snooze for two years (it is then awakened by sprinkling it with water). She locked it in a cupboard, watched him choose from 35 oatmeal creme brulee recipes, she set him up ” a cafeteria ” to determine their ideal nutritional regimen. Magnetized by the same oatmeal, this force of nature triumphed hands down in the labyrinth test, the one to which rats are usually subjected, finding its way among several possible routes. He thus demonstrated that he had memory thanks to the repellent mucus which he marked the territories already explored.
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So this organism would be intelligent? And how… From Hokkaido to Boston, from Bremen to Florence, scientists specializing in biophysics, neurobiology, computer science and robotics have looked into his case. They found him capable of learning. But also see in him a possible contender for the title of savior of humanity. Decoding his cellular background could, in fact, help fight cancerous tumors. To clean up certain soils. To develop artificial intelligence. This superhero was even recently sent into space to see how he fits there. Have you ever heard a blob sing? So we can’t recommend this incredible odyssey enough.
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Saturday October 9 at 10:40 p.m. on Arte. French documentary by Jacques Mitsch (2019). 51 min. (Available in replay until April 6, 2022 on Arte.tv).