How tiny tardigrades reveal a weakness in modern science

Tardigrades, enlarged and coloured.Beeld Getty Images / Science Photo Libra

It looks like some kind of legged armored car, which nevertheless can be funny. Pull a wisp of algae out of the ground and you’ll get a few thousand: tardigrades, tiny creatures you can’t see with the naked eye and with a strange array of superpowers.

For example, they can “turn off” themselves by letting all the water out of their body and (almost) stop their metabolism. You can hardly break it, even in space. To date, tardigrades are the only multicellular organism that can survive outside spaceships without wearing a spacesuit. In fact, they are currently – as far as we know – the only living creatures on the Moon, that humans left there.

Little creatures are also popular in Hollywood. They played a role in a superhero movie Ant-ManAppeared (in creepy mutated form) in the horror movie precursor down And learn in the animated series South Park Dance to the music of Taylor Swift. Later.

With that in mind, it’s no surprise, then, that tardigrade enthusiasts bounced around the world when physicists claimed the creature was given another first. They wrote that he would be the first multicellular creature to be a part of what’s called quantum entanglement In a previous scientific publication.

Entanglement is one of the strange phenomena that arises from the enchanting laws of quantum physics, the theory of physics that describes the world on the smallest scale. When particles – the building blocks of everything around us – become “entangled” in them, they bind in an esoteric way. If you do something with one particle, it directly affects the other, even if one particle is here on Earth and the other on the Moon, leaving tardigrades behind.

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So far, entanglement has been restricted to inanimate particles or – In a famous experience – germ. Thus, jumping into a multicellular creature, even as small as tardigrades, would be amazing.

And so various media immediately jumped to the pen. On the website of the popular weekly science magazine new world The message was About tangled tardigrades has topped the list of most-read articles for over a week.

There is only one problem: other scientists Don’t believe it. Many have argued that the results of the experiment also explain without entanglement. The article suggests something more powerful than what the underlying data supports. For example, physicist Ben Brubecker wrote, “Don’t fall in love with this noise on Twitter. Or, in the words of physicist Douglas Natelson on his own blog: “No, tardigrades were not tangled.”

It goes without saying: even tardigrades, superheroes of the biological micro-world, cannot take the risks of overly presented research whose reliability has not yet been verified by their peers.

Megan Vasquez

"Creator. Coffee buff. Internet lover. Organizer. Pop culture geek. Tv fan. Proud foodaholic."

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