HotAIR - RESEARCH QUESTION -- The Mystery Blob

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RESEARCH QUESTION--
The Mystery Blob

A glance at an obscure, yet puzzling phenomenon

by Alice Shirrell Kaswell, AIR staff


The Mystery Blob. Photo: DeGraeff Lomax.

Every year a few more scientists take up the study of blobs. Most of them, at least recently, cultivated the interest after hearing or reading about the so-called "Mystery Blob."

The outstanding fact, though, about the Mystery Blob is that it remains essentially a complete mystery.

New Photos

Investigator DeGraeff Lomax sent us these two recent photographs of the Mystery Blob. Taken on December 31, 2001, they offer new clues that, like all the old clues, seem to tantalyze without necessarily providing any illumination.

The field of blob research is still young, and is better known from a handful of fanciful science fiction movie accounts than from any of the genuine research. The blob research citation collection project announced in mini-AIR 1999-10 (October, 1999) has so far produced minimal results.


The Mystery Blob. This photograph was taken the same day, but at a later hour, than the top photo. Photo: DeGraeff Lomax.

A possible new direction for blob research is suggested in the recent research done by Cottet, Gareil, and Viovy at the Laboratoire d'Electrochimie et de Chimie Analytique, Ecole Nationale Superieure de Chimie de Paris, France. Their work is described in the report:

"The effect of blob size and network dynamics on the size-based separation of polystyrenesulfonates by capillary electrophoresis in the presence of entangled polymer solutions," H. Cottet, P. Gareil, and J.L.Viovy, Electrophoresis, vol. 19, no. 12, September 1998, pp. 2151-62.

Suggestive, too, is a 1988 report by P.B. Sigler of Yale University:

"Transcriptional activation. Acid blobs and negative noodles," Nature, vol. 333, no. 6170, May 19, 1988, pp. 210-2.

A Plea for Progress

We would be interested, to a degree, in hearing from any scientist who can provide a definitive and correct answer to this mystery.

We would be not at all interested in hearing from anyone who would offer to provide an answer based on guesswork, stochastic predictive algorithms, or mummery.

Mystery Blob Research: The State of the Field

The outstanding fact about the Mystery Blob is that it remains essentially a complete mystery.

Every year a few more scientists abandon the study of blobs. Most of them had originally cultivated the interest after hearing or reading sketchy accounts of the Mystery Blob. Their actions will serve as inspiration to students who have yet to encounter this exciting field of research.

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