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Science Games

Play Pacman, Pinball, and Pong With a Paramecium 88

An anonymous reader writes "Science is rarely ever this cool! 'Physicist Ingmar Riedel-Kruse and his team from Stanford University have done just that by creating versions of classic games that you can navigate by physically controlling living organisms. A game called PAC-mecium is Pacman with a twist: players use a console to change the polarity of an electrical field in a fluid chamber filled with paramecia, which makes the organisms move in different directions. A camera sends real-time images to a computer, where they are superimposed onto a game board (see video above). By looking at the screen, a player can guide the paramecia to eat virtual yeast cells and make them avoid Pacman-like fish. A microprocessor tracks the movement of the organisms to keep score.' Also available are versions of Pinball, Pong, and soccer."
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Play Pacman, Pinball, and Pong With a Paramecium

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  • Just a game (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ian_from_brisbane ( 596121 ) on Saturday January 15, 2011 @12:10PM (#34889642)
    Some higher species might be doing the same thing with us humans.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    disgusting. they are life too.

    • Um. Have you not noticed that we humans are the characters in a game and the score is money? Guess who the players are as well.

    • Hope you've never played naughts and crosses on paper, that shit is made fom plants you know.

      • there is an industry of creating paper, because we use it for various things that lead to food and shelter. some of us exercise our minds from time to time by playing tictactoe, and that doesn't seem directly related to our survival. however, that is still a sort of training.
        this particular story discusses some people who took a computer game and tried to recreate it with live creatures. it is wrong because there is no advantage in doing it with live creatures (even if there might be a point to actually pro

        • Many times you don't know what the benefit of a science experiment/project will be, not till many years after that. Maybe it started as some kind of pet project (no pun intended), and maybe that's all it will ever amount to. But maybe in a few years we'll see applications for this. Sometimes we just do stuff to "goof around" and we may be surprised at the results. Example: Google's "20% time " revolves exactly around this idea, and it has been very productive.
          Now, you might say that I would think differentl

        • I find your conditions for respecting life intriguing. If we gain from it, then it's ok to treat them badly?
    • I agree, and I don't really know why they modded you down.
      This is worse than organized dog/cock fights.
      I understand that these things don't have a mind of their own (as far as we can tell), but I say it's wrong.

      • How the hell is it worse than making dogs and cocks (hur hur hur) fight each other? Puppies are way cuter than parameciumseses.

      • by dAzED1 ( 33635 ) on Saturday January 15, 2011 @01:43PM (#34890314) Journal
        uhh...it's worse than dog fights? You're trolling, right? Dogs are social, self-aware beings that can solve complex problems, have emotions, form social bonds, suffer, experience joy, etc. Paramecium...are single-celled organisms. You might as well be concerned about torturing a rock, or air; they have no ability to feel pain, and certainly no ability to suffer.
        • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) *

          Not to mention - won't someone PLEASE think of the water molecules?

        • by Raenex ( 947668 )

          they have no ability to feel pain, and certainly no ability to suffer.

          How do you know?

    • I hope you don't eat meat or plants or anything.... They we living once, too.
    • Don't worry. The researchers have asked the colony for volunteers. All paramecia you see are in the game of their own free will
  • go to i95 or you rlocal 8 lane highway, play frogger for real

    since frog muscles will respond to electric jolts after death, do it with a dead frog, so PETA can't complain

    then you have something even better than the classic arcade: zombie frogger

    or, more in style with the electrical bolts and mad scientist-messing-with-life theme here: frankenstein frogger

    • Who needs electricity, just use good ol' mechanical force and launch them across the freeway, some may prefer to throw them, use a bat or even make an elaborate catapult (frogapult?) I find a tennis racquet works quite well.

      • by Briareos ( 21163 ) *

        Who needs electricity, just use good ol' mechanical force and launch them across the freeway,[...]

        "Angry Frogs"?

    • by fishexe ( 168879 )

      since frog muscles will respond to electric jolts after death, do it with a dead frog, so PETA can't complain

      Meh, you'll probably give them a reason to complain by how you procure a dead frog. I'm guessing it has to be fairly fresh for that to work.

  • Can I play Combat with it? That way, I can pull the good ol' "shoot-him-through-the-wall" trick and then watch when it gets all pissed off and throws the controller at me.

  • In before PETA drama!

    *reads comments in the FA* ...crap.

    • by RichMan ( 8097 )

      Are you breathing? Are your saliva glands, stomach and intestine working? Do you have white blood cells?

      If any of the above are true your body already is a micro-organism slaughter ground.

  • Wake me up when I can play Smash T.V. with live puppies. "Good luck... You'll need it!"
  • by gmuslera ( 3436 ) on Saturday January 15, 2011 @12:31PM (#34889816) Homepage Journal
    If you hit their modem line and hack into, another game will be available, "Global Biological War", but i remember that the only way to win is not to play it.
  • The researchers at Stanford University were dismayed when told by the department head that they needed to shut the project down after receiving a cease and desist letter from Capcoms lawyers stating they were committing copyright infringement.
    • by arth1 ( 260657 )


      But what I find more likely is that Stanford lawyers have already rushed out and patented using non-sentient life as a component in computer games, and would sue CapCom if they did the same.

    • And a notice from the state game commission that it might violate laws against "virtual" remote hunting of live organisms if implemented over the Internet.

  • is that the first game looks nothing like Pong, but rather, Breakout.
  • as the token vegan and animal rights activist let me just say that I greatly appreciate the respect people give when comparing concerns about the treatment of animals that are capable of suffering (dogs, pigs, cows, etc) to...paramecium. Nothing says you know you're wrong better than overblowing a comparison to silly, extreme levels to try to defame your opponent.
  • While I happily eat pigs, cows, fish & all sorts of meat, I'd never kill them or torture them for fun ( ok I've done it as a kid, but who hasn't). Of course there's a difference between pigs and paramecium, but the idea is the same, and the 'capability of suffering' threshold is very very vague, like arbitrary. Using living things for research, I'm totally ok with that. Eating living things as we're higher in the food chain, I'm totally ok with that. Harming living things for fun is not cool - Uncoolnes
  • If I said "duck vaginas" would anyone know to what I'm referring?
  • by chrisG23 ( 812077 ) on Saturday January 15, 2011 @02:52PM (#34890954)
    This creeps me the fuck out on a base level.
  • *points to user name*

    I would have been up for playing games with you guys whenever - you just had to ask!!!

    • by fishexe ( 168879 )

      *points to user name*

      I would have been up for playing games with you guys whenever - you just had to ask!!!

      ...but it's more fun to force you by electrically controlling your impulses.

  • Once you've finished curing cancer, then you can tease the paramecium.

    They're cute little creatures. Run around on the microscope slide like an over-eager dog. Why would anyone want to torture one for a game? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paramecium [wikipedia.org]

  • I'll be impressed when they manage to pull it off with only one mecium.
  • This game could easily be hacked to connect the controller directly to the game. That would be unfair to all those who achieved a decent high score using the paramecium-webcam interface.

    - RG>

"You can have my Unix system when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers." -- Cal Keegan