What’s in Thomas Pesquet’s suitcase? A virtual reality headset for cycling in Paris, edible gingerbread wrappers, a 200-track playlist, ultrasonic acoustic grippers, marigold seeds, cooked meals from starred chefs… raccoon in this Prévert-style inventory, but four blobs.
“Four what? “, will strangle those who have never heard of this unicellular organism of the myxomycete family, a scientific curiosity endowed with an intelligence all the more remarkable because it has neither brain nor neurons.
Intended to be the subject of weightless experiments, its space journey – which will in fact not begin until August, after being transported to the International Space Station (ISS) inside a pressurized container. – has all of a consecration for this species of viscous aspect with fascinating behavioral complexity.
This is also the case for all those who raise, collect and trade blobs like a hobby. The phenomenon does not have the scale of the Tamagotchi, the virtual pets created by a Japanese toy maker in the mid-1990s, nor that of the Mexican poppeas offered by Pif Gagdet, twenty-five years earlier, but it stems from the same attraction for strange beings, and their domestication.
Bought on Le Bon Coin
Neither animal nor plant, nor even mushroom, the blob is indeed a creature like no other, with unique learning and regeneration capacities. Cut it in half, and it will heal in less than three minutes. Bring it closer to a congener, and the two individuals will merge into one and the same mass. Place it at the entrance of a maze, and it will find on its own the shortest path leading to the exit where an oatmeal, its favorite food, has been placed.
Position it in the middle of several foods scattered in a Petri dish (the small cylinders, glass or plastic, used for culturing bacteria, for example), and it will unfold like a railway network in order to to get from one to the other efficiently. It lacks only the word. “Or bring the ball back”, as laughs Stéphane Josso, 43, one of these amateur “blobists”.
This operator in an agri-food company in Concarneau (Finistère) got his first specimen on Le Bon Coin, in October 2020, after stumbling across an advertisement classified in the “animals” category. “It remains an instructive hobby mainly based on observation, a bit like with a terrarium, he explains. It requires a certain rigor, without taking too much time if you are organized. He is present every day, but remains discreet in daily and family life. “ Stéphane Josso now owns eight blobs, all bought on the Internet. Finding it in nature, for example on dead wood or rotten fruit, is not impossible, but is a fluke.
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