Chinese Scientists Develop Saltwater Rice That Could Feed Over 200 Million People

commercial saltwater rice developed in china

Photo: Ronald Tagra

In a stunning agricultural breakthrough, Chinese researchers have stated that they have developed a system for growing rice in saltwater. It’s a revolutionary breakthrough that could help feed over 200 million people and boost China’s rice production by 20 percent.

In the spring over 200 types of rice were planted in a coastal town in eastern China. The researchers flooded the area with diluted sea water to see which varieties could thrive in the environment and were stunned by the results. “The test results were way above our expectations,” said Liu Shiping, professor of agriculture at Yangzhou University

For decades researchers have been attempting to produce commercially viable rice in water with high saline levels. Lead researcher Yuan Longping, who is known as the “godfather of rice” in China, has been developing hybrid rice varieties since the 1970s, when it became apparent that China was due for a population boom. Over the years he has created hybrids that now account for 20% of the rice varieties on the market.

With rice as a staple of the Chinese diet, yet huge swathes of land unviable due to high saline levels, this is a promising sign for a new way to feed the growing population. Growing rice varieties with saline tolerance will open up new areas of cultivation within the country and hopefully incentivize farmers to plant more rice.

There are some varieties of wild rice that tolerate salinity, but they typically produce a low yield of about 1.12 to 2.24 US tons per acre (1.125 to 2.25 tonnes per hectare). Instead, this new rice yielded between 2.9 and 4 US tons per acre (6.5 and 9.3 tonnes per hectare) during the experiment.

“If a farmer tries to grow some types of saline-tolerant rice now, he or she most likely will get 1,322 pounds per acre (1,500 kilograms per hectare). That is just not profitable and not even worth the effort,” said Yuan. “Farmers will have enough incentive to grow the rice if we double the yield.”

And though the rice is pricey—costing about 8 times more than traditional varieties—it’s already making its way into kitchens across China. The distributor estimates that it’s already sold 6.6 US tons (6 tonnes), and prices are expected to drop as commercialization continues. The “seawater” rice also has some built-in benefits. It’s naturally higher in calcium and fewer pesticides are needed, as less insects tolerate the salty conditions.

Best of all, it tastes good. “My boyfriend said it was like the braised rice he had back in his village. It is very good,” a local told the South China Morning Post.

h/t: [IFL Science!]

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Medieval Illuminated Manuscript Exploring the Majesty of Animals Digitized and Placed Online

 illuminated manuscript definition aberdeen bestiary

Portrait of the night owl.

No, an illuminated manuscript is not a book that lights up, but rather a visual way of articulating letters and inserting imagery into text. Especially popular during the medieval period, religious texts were the primary recipients of decorative borders and letters tinged with gold and silver. However, increasingly over time, secular texts were also illuminated and now one of the most intriguing illuminated manuscripts, The Aberdeen Bestiary, has been digitized for close examination.

Created around 1200—and once owned by Henry VIII—The Aberdeen Bestiary is one of many of its genre, which was especially popular during the Middle Ages. Given how closely man worked in conjunction with animals, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that such a text would exist. Bestiaries, which originated in the Ancient World, are manuscripts that contain flora and fauna, typically giving a moral tale next to each entry.

Often used as a teaching tool, bestiaries reflected the Christian belief that the everything in the world is touched by God and has its own special meaning. So what makes The Aberdeen Bestiary so particular? For one, its lavish illuminations in gold are extraordinary, as most bestiaries were not illuminated. It begins with the creation story from the book of Genesis and then moves into descriptions of animals such as a lion, panther, and elephant. Not the typical animals an average medieval citizen living in Europe would encounter, but describing local species was not the aim of this manuscript, which was used for moral teaching.

The Aberdeen Bestiary illuminated manscript

The Creation of Birds and Fishes.

Everything from dogs and eagles to trees and humans are described among the pages of The Aberdeen Bestiary, which for all its lavishness, was never finished. In fact, the new high-resolution images taken by the University of Aberdeen show that the manuscript is most likely the work of many scribes, who wrote annotations and corrections in the margins. It’s thought that the manuscript was meant for a wide audience, but was picked up by the king’s scouts as they rummaged through a dissolved monastic library for treasures.

Now, The Aberdeen Bestiary has returned to its original intent, with the university releasing incredibly detailed scans online. Each page is accompanied by a transcription and translation from the original Latin, as well as commentary from researchers. A fascinating glimpse at the artistry of these craftsmen and the belief system of medieval Europe, it’s well worth flipping through the manuscript’s pages.

Medieval illuminated manuscript The Aberdeen Bestiary has recently been digitized and placed online for close examination.

 digitized manuscripts aberdeen bestiary

Eagles fishing and plunging into the rejuvenating spring.

Aberdeen Bestiary illuminated manuscript

The leopard

what is an illuminated manuscript

The dragon strangles an elephant.

aberdeen bestiary digitized

Dog dropping his meat after seeing his reflection and dogs licking their wounds with their healing tongues.

h/t: [Open Culture, Hyperallergic]

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Joe had managed a successful company for 25 years…

Joe had managed a successful company for 25 years and during those years the company had grown substantially. When asked what his secret was in management and human relations he replied “I deal with every person in such a way that we can meet again knowing that our last encounter was an enjoyable one. To me, nobody is below me and nobody is above me. My consciousness is my guide. I have to live with myself every minute of the day. If I’m not at peace with myself how can I possibly make others feel comfortable around me? I’m not into fancy terminology, I try to keep things simple.  If my heart is at ease at the end of each day I may have succeeded that one day. Then I try again tomorrow. This my life and I like it!” @signordal

Nobody is below me and nobody is above me

Joe had managed a successful company for 25 years and during those years the company had grown substantially. When asked what his secret was in management and human relations he replied “I deal with every person in such a way that we can meet again knowing that our last encounter was an enjoyable one. To me, nobody is below me and nobody is above me, except, of course, my consciousness. I have to live with myself every minute of the day. If I’m not at peace with myself how can I possibly make others feel comfortable around me? I’m not into sales, accounting or fancy terminology. When my heart is at ease at the end of the day I may have succeeded that one day. Then I try again tomorrow. This my life and I love it!” @signordal

Learn How Hand Lettering Can Elevate Ordinary Text into Extraordinary Art

The world is full of text, and not all of it is designed to be pretty. Typography, like any creative field, can be dry and boring. One area in which it shines, however, is in hand lettering. This approach adds a distinctive flair to ordinary text and infuses it with personality and unique flourishes you wouldn’t find in ordinary typefaces.

So, how does hand lettering differ from conventional typography? For one, it’s often project specific. Artists and illustrators will write a word that fits with, and is designed especially for, a single composition and the overall style it’s trying to achieve. A fancy greeting card, for instance, might call for an elaborate typeface that has large, sweeping curves. But if you’re designing invitations for an eight-year-old’s robot-themed birthday party, perhaps stout block letters are more appropriate. With hand lettering, the creative possibilities are seemingly endless.

The fact that a letter form is hand drawn lends itself to idiosyncrasies and inconsistencies—like the spacing in between letters—which might drive some designers crazy. This is, however, what attracts many people to hand lettering in the first place. It’s a characteristic to celebrate as you draw.

Popular Uses for Hand Lettering

Stationary is one of the most common places you’ll find hand lettering. Things like greeting cards are considered special occasion purchases, so it’s fitting that they have characteristics that also feel distinctive. It’s also a perfect place to emphasize a letter with an illustrative flair.

Emily McDowell, one of our favorite greeting card designers, is a fantastic example of how hand-lettering can elevate a card. All of her witty work looks like it’s written by hand, which makes it feel personalized. Looking closely at her work, she often mixes cursive with printed text to give even her longest sentences a visual flair. But if she’s only illustrating a few words, she will pick one or two to emphasize by drawing it at a different scale or in a different font.

While stationary is a popular source for hand lettering, it’s also a creative way to adorn the things we use every day. An otherwise ordinary notebook can have a fabulous cover when decorated with a written word, or it can be even more unconventional than that; lettering artist Jen Mussari uses her skills—and interest in sign painting—to draw on motorcycle helmets and leather jackets—places you wouldn’t expect beautiful painted text to be.

Hand lettering also offers a valuable opportunity to let your voice be heard. Drawing quotes, whether they’re funny, sad, or motivational, is a popular way to practice the art. Social media apps like Instagram allow for interaction between the artist and viewer to have a dialogue about the words on the page. Zachary Smith uses his popular account as a way to inspire his thousands of strangers to keep trying their best.

Learn Hand Lettering

Aside from its charming visuals, hand lettering is something that anyone can produce with some creativity and a lot of practice. It  might look daunting, but have no fear—there are many resources for learning how. We recommend taking the time to understand the basics and best practices for drawing letter forms. Even though it looks effortless, there is a lot of practice and planning that goes into making it appear just right.

Online classes are a great way to get introduced to the art. Here are three that can help you get started:

Hand Lettering Essentials for Beginners, Skillshare: In one of the e-learning site’s most popular classes, lettering artist Mary Kate McDevitt covers everything you need to know about drawing, inking, and transforming handwriting into art.

Hand Lettering 101, CreativeLive: Designer, illustrator, and sign painter Annica Lydenberg shows how to build the skills for your hand lettering—no software required.

Simple Methods for Custom Lettering, CreativeLive: If you’re more comfortable with the computer, Brandon Rike will show you how to hand letter through Adobe Illustrator. He also teaches another valuable skill—how to “match the typeface to the mood of your project.”

There are also blogs dedicated to showing hand lettering tutorials. Hand-Lettering for Beginners is a site dedicated to showing you where to start. It’s the perfect way to easy into it without feeling intimidated; in fact, one of the first things they do is tell you to “embrace your inner amateur.” Creative Market takes a similar approach with their detailed how-to.

Other artists like Dawn Nicole and Abbey Sy lay out the basics of the tools they use and different tips that help them create their letter forms.

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