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The science behind companion planting

22 July 2019
Gardeners have long known that some plants naturally repel insect pests and placing them near susceptible plants helps to protect them, also known as companion planting. Scientists examined one such pairing and found that French marigolds help protect tomato plants from glasshouse whiteflies. They determined that the marigolds emit a chemical called limonene in the air which repels but does not kill whiteflies.

First seeds grown on the Moon!

22 July 2019
Farming on the Moon may not be a fantasy anymore, as Chinese astronomers have successfully germinated cotton seeds inside a sealed biosphere, on the surface of the moon. In the past, plants were all grown on the International Space Station, but never on the Moon. This marks an important milestone as the ability to grow plants on the Moon can help in long-term space missions.

Trees Keep Cities Cool

22 July 2019
The cooling effect of a small forest in the city has the profound effect of cooling the environment. Summer daytime temperatures can be lowered by 3.4 degrees Celsius. Hard city surfaces take in heat from the sun in the day and gradually give off the heat in the night. Trees however not only shade those surfaces, they also release water into the air through transpiration, cooling the surroundings. The study showed that for maximum cooling benefit, the tree canopy cover must be greater than 40 percent of an area. This information is useful for city planners to develop more livable neighbourhoods.

A Naturally Caffeine-Free Tea

01 December 2018
A group of scientists has recently found a wild tea tree called Hongyacha in Fujian, China, which produces almost caffeine-free tea leaves. Tea is one of the world’s most popular drinks because of the distinctive flavor and stimulating effect of caffeine found in tea leaves. However, a cup of decaf tea is also popular among tea drinkers who want to limit their caffeine intake for some reason. Inevitably, the decaffeination process will remove certain amount of antioxidants and loss the original tea flavors. The naturally caffeine-free Hongyacha might be a potential alternative for decaf tea drinkers.

Jackfruit that taste like chocolate

15 November 2018
A researcher from the University of Sao Paulo's Luiz de Queiroz College of Agriculture (ESALQ-USP) in Brazil discovered an alternative for chocolate after accidently roasting jackfruit seeds. This discovery came at a right time as the supply of cocoa is unable to meet the exponential international demand for it. Fernanda Papa Spada, the proud owner of this discovery, has been fermenting these jackfruit seeds to maximize its cocoa flavor. She has been making cappuccino using dry jackfruit seed flour, milk and coffee and the result is amazing.