Scientists Create a Microscopic Version of ‘Pac-Man’


Scientists have brought the ’80s video game Pac-Man to life. (You just need a microscope to see it.)

Researchers at University College Southeast Norway’s Institute of Micro and Nano System Technology were studying the behavioral patterns of protozoans, or single-celled organisms, and pseudocoelomates, the multi-celled organisms that prey on protozoans. In an effort to better observe them (and have a little fun in the process), the team turned the experiment into a Pac-Man–like game. “Our goal was to create a more natural, three-dimensional environment for these creatures to be examined in, where they would encounter obstacles, walls, and canals, just like they would in their natural habitat,” said Professor Erik Andrew Johannessen, the project’s team leader.

Using nanostructures to build walls, the researchers created the maze just one-millimeter wide. Then, the microscopic organisms were introduced into the game. The protozoa play the role of “Pac-Man”—specifically euglena and ciliates—while the predatory, multi-celled rotifers sit in for the “ghosts.”

Watch the microscopic version of Pac-Man below. Read more about the experiment here.