GS Paper - 3 (Science and Technology)

Residents of the International Space Station will soon welcome their most unusual guest. the 'Blob', an unclassified organism, blasted off into orbit. The Blob is a physarum polycephalum, a kind of slime mould which has always fascinated scientists. The Blob will be part of an experiment carried out by astronauts in the ISS and students in France at the same time.

What

  1. Appeared on Earth about 500 million years ago, the slime mould defies biology as we know it.
  2. The blob has one cell with multiple nuclei and while most organisms reproduce, it does not.
  3. Another interesting feature is that while most organisms present two sex types, the Blob has more than 720.
  4. The slime mould has no mouth, legs or brain and has a yellowish and spongy mass. It still eats, grows and moves.
  5. The goal of taking the Blob up in space is to observe the effects of weightlessness.
  6. Back on earth, thousands of slime mould specimens will be distributed to 4,500 schools and colleges in France where students can touch the Blob and experiment on it to see the difference in how the samples adapt in space and on Earth.