Txch This Week: A New Line On Our Cosmic Address



by Jared Kershner

This week on Txchnologist, we learned how biologist Zhen-Ming Pei and his team discovered a gene called OSCA1 that serves as a thermostat for plants. The gene is the foundation of the plant’s dehydration alarm system, and signals the organism to begin deploying countermeasures to endure the prolonged absence of water. The team believes the gene can be altered to eventually grow crops that are more drought-resistant, which would augment food production in areas where water scarcity plagues the population.

Astronomers are in the final steps of preparing to launch a stratospheric balloon holding an advanced X-ray detector into the atmosphere above New Mexico. The instrument will measure the polarization of a variety of targets – a galaxy, a neutron star, a binary star system, and two black holes. The success of this launch will provide a closer look into the astrophysics of these objects in addition to other fundamental physics governing the universe.

Stanford University researchers reported they have successfully disassembled water molecules into gaseous hydrogen and oxygen with the electromotive force of a single AAA battery, improving on the centuries-old method of the electrolysis of water. With this advance, they may have created a more efficient way to generate hydrogen gas fuel for coming applications in fuel cells for cars and power generation.

Now we’re bringing you the news and trends we’ve been following this week in the world of science, technology and innovation.

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