In this week’s edition, we recapped some major science news from the past two weeks, ranging from mini hearts to space exploration.
A mini-heart cultivated in the laboratory
Austrian scientists cultivated a mini heart beating organoid in the laboratory. The new heart models – the size of a sesame seed – were made from human stem cells. They mimic the working heart of a 25-day-old human embryo, which has so far survived for more than 3 weeks. Scientists hope to use these hearts to study heart development and heart disease – replacing current methods that use the hearts of laboratory animals.
Chinese Mission to Mars
Another milestone in China’s mission to Mars. His rover, Zhurong – named after the Chinese god of fire – has started exploring the red planet. This makes China the second country in the world, after the United States, to operate a mobile robot on another planet. Zhurong is carrying several scientific instruments to explore the mission’s landing site in a vast plain in the northern hemisphere of Mars. It is part of the Chinese Tianwen Mars mission, which aims to study the morphology and geological characteristics of the planet.
The Chinese FAST telescope has detected more than 200 pulsars. They are rapidly spinning neutron stars, which originate from the imploded cores of massive stars dying by supernova explosions. They have the strongest magnetic fields, the highest density, and the fastest spinning of any celestial body in the universe. This makes it an ideal laboratory for studying the laws of physics in extreme environments. Since the first discovery in 1968, around 3,000 pulsars have been discovered.
Father of hybrid rice
Chinese agronomist Yuan Longping has died at the age of 91. He is known to have developed the first hybrid rice varieties, which greatly contributed to reducing hunger in the world. He has helped China achieve a great wonder – feeding nearly a fifth of the world’s population with less than nine percent of the world’s total arable land. In 2019, Yuan Longping received the Republic Medal – the highest honor in China – for his contribution to the country’s food security and the scientific development of agriculture.