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Blob, Physarum polycephalum
Elisa Huster 05.11.21

Blobman's first steps in space

We got it right in our Life & Style 22 trendbook, published several light-years ago (in September 2020). Do you remember? We praised the blob, who, even possessing so little, looked like the savior of the 21st century. 

This true scientific mystery appeared on Earth well before the first plant or human. The blob, alias Physarum polycephalum, is a giant single-cell organism visible to the naked eye. It lives in cool, damp environments, such as dead leaves covering the ground or in deadwood, and it sparks hope in the scientific community.

The blob is virtually immortal, has a sponge-like appearance and can climb (without legs) and eat (without a stomach). It may well represent the future in fighting cancer or cleaning up pollution in the ground. In other words, there’s no need to look any farther. It’s all already here before our eyes, an ancestral bio-intelligence that’s now more relevant than ever.

Bio? This 21st century prefix is added everywhere, and it opens up ways to invent the world of the future: biotechnology, biophysical design, biomimetics, biomorphism, biomaterials … All these neologisms illustrate the wealth of possible solutions to help humans flourish in their environment without destroying it. The key is learning how to reobserve nature to reproduce how it functions. Examples are radars inspired by dolphins’ use of sonar, glues based on spider webs, or architecture that copies the natural world.

The blob, who deserves Marvel-hero status as “Blobman,” traveled in a spaceship with French astronaut Thomas Pesquet, who studied its development in space through a series of in vitro experiments. The voyage may provide new answers for science, bio-business or medicine that could lead to (why not?) the first steps in conquering the planets called cancer, Alzheimer’s or COVID-19. And one day (who knows?) those worlds may seem part of another galaxy.

It’s a small step for the blob, but one giant leap for scientific progress.

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