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.
- 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 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:
- Turbulent flows in superfluids and viscous fluids, or the flow of heat in superfluid helium.
- Just like how current flows without resistance in superconducting materials at very low temperatures, superfluid helium also conducts heat efficiently at very low temperatures.