Science Saturday 20220806
By Tech It Out

In this week's "Science Saturday", we present the latest science news, ranging from space agriculture to the pollinator in the ocean.

Space agriculture

Scientists used to grow crops in lunar dirt. But the latest research from University of North Dakota shows that carbonaceous chondrite meteorites are rich in micro-elements that are key to agricultural nutrients and could serve as a source of steady farm supplies in space. Scientists used romaine lettuce, pink radish and chili pepper, which have been grown on the International Space Station. Researchers compared how the plants grew in only faux asteroid soil, only peat moss and in mixes of the two. The results showed the plants grew in a combination of peat moss and faux asteroid soil. Peat moss keeps soil loose and improves water preservation. But faux asteroid soil on its own has poor water retention.

Enhancing machine vision

Image sensors measure light intensity to create machine vision. However, the angle, spectrum and other aspects of light must also be examined in order to advance such ability. A study published on Applied Physics Letter have introduced the latest nano-structured components that integrate image sensor chips. These components are most likely to make a huge impact in multimodal imaging. Someday, autonomous vehicles can see around corners instead of just a straight line. 

Human vs. climate change

Scientists are working to find the limits of humans' resilience to heat, as climate change distorts temperatures. Recent research by a group of climate scientists from the Pennsylvania State University suggests that heat stress tolerance in people may be lower than previously thought. This came after they tracked heat stress in people of different ages under a variety of controlled climates. The results show the subjects failed to tolerate heat stress around 31 degrees Celsius in warm and humid conditions. That number is even lower in hot and dry conditions. As 2022 continues to break temperature records worldwide, experts warn that millions of people are at risk from deadly heat sooner rather than later.

Pollinator of the sea

Researchers may have found a creature that can help pollination in the ocean. It's a slender crustacean called the isopod, that swims between algae with its sperm cells stuck to its body, and fertilizes the plant as it grazes. After mixing virgin female and male algae in a tank, experiments by the French National Research Agency show that the algae living with this crustacean are about 20 times as successful in reproducing than those in the tanks without the isopod. Experts say, however, the findings only validate isopods' pollination in a laboratory setting. It remains to be seen if they're efficient at this in nature.

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