Daily News Analysis

Space Rice

22nd July, 2021 Science and Technology


  • China has harvested the first batch of Space rice from seeds that went to a 23-day lunar voyage with China's Chang'e-5.
  • After being exposed to cosmic radiation and zero gravity, these seeds were harvested at the space breeding research centre of the South China Agricultural University.
  • The seeds are now 1 centimeter long, reports said.



What is space rice?

  • Rice seeds exposed to the environment in Space may mutate and produce higher yields once planted on Earth.
  • China has been taking seeds of rice and other crops to Space since 1987.
  • More than 200 Space plant varieties, including cotton and tomatoes, have been approved for planting.
  • According to China's state media reports, In 2018, the total plantation area for space crops approved in China reached more than 2.4 million hectares.



  • With long-term human stays at the space station, researchers are hoping to conduct experiments to test a self-recycling ecosystem in space, which will greatly cut costs and reduce the resources needed for future manned spaceflights.
  • This will support more deep-space explorations, including the building of a lunar research base and manned missions to Mars.




Electron Bubbles


  • Scientists at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Banglore for the first time discovered two species of Few-Electron Bubbles (FEBs) in Superfluid Helium Gas.


  • An electron bubble is the empty space created around a free electron in a cryogenic gas or liquid, such as neon or helium.
  • They are typically very small, about 2 nm in diameter at atmospheric pressure.
  • An electron injected into a superfluid form of helium creates a Single Electron Bubble (SEB) — a cavity that is free of helium atoms and contains only the electron.
  • The shape of the bubble depends on the energy state of the electron.
  • For instance, the bubble is spherical when the electron is in the ground state (i.e. state of lowest energy). There are also multiple electron bubbles that contain thousands of electrons.
  • Superfluidityis the frictionless flow and other exotic behaviour observed in liquid helium at temperatures near absolute zero (−273.15 °C), and similar frictionless behaviour of electrons in a superconducting solid.
  • In each case the unusual behaviour arises from quantum mechanical effects.


Few-Electron Bubbles

  • Few-Electron Bubbles on the other hand, are nanometre-sized cavities in liquid helium containing just a handful of free electrons.
  • The number, state, and interactions between free electrons dictate the physical and chemical properties of materials.

Significance of the study

  • FEBs can serve as a useful model to study how the energy states of electrons and interactions between them in a material influence its properties.
  • There are several phenomena that FEBs can help scientists decipher, such as:
  1. Turbulent flows in superfluids and viscous fluids, or the flow of heat in superfluid helium.
  2. Just like how current flows without resistance in superconducting materials at very low temperatures, superfluid helium also conducts heat efficiently at very low temperatures.