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Chips without fats as tasty as normal ones thanks to a new discovery

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French fries, those found at the supermarket, are one of the most popular snacks ever by the public but bad luck has it that they are characterized by a non-negligible fat content.

There are also “modified” versions with a smaller quantity of fats but this characteristic is usually obtained at the expense of the vegetable oil content, an essential element that gives the flavor to the fries themselves and provides that crunching sensation in the mouth so loved.

A group of researchers, led by Stefan Baier (researcher at PepsiCo during the study) and by Jason Stokes of the University of Queensland have therefore developed a technique to analyze the physical characteristics of the chips from the moment they are placed in the mouth until ingestion. Specifically, they analyzed the chips during four phases: the first bite, grinding by the teeth, bolus formation and swallowing.

They then collected various data including the one related to the oil content in each of the four phases. They then used this information to design low-fat chips covered with a thin layer of oil which in turn contained a small amount of emulsifier. This special “Recipe” made the potato chip more similar to the normal one, which is the one with fat, at least according to the participants in the tasting tests.

This potato chip is characterized by only 0.5% more oil than oil or fat-free chips.

Needless to say, this discovery could be used to market fats without fats that have the same taste and the same crunchiness as normal ones.

Bill Stern

I am a professor of Biology at Marquette University and the founder of The Chunk. Throughout my life I have always had a strong interest in science and learning more about how the world works, and have always wanted to eventually become a science popularizer and educator myself. The Chunk, along with my responsibilities as a professor, is my attempt at improving science education and literacy.

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Nuclei of half-destroyed planets from stars detectable by radio telescopes

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There are stars that, after burning all their “fuel,” turn into so-called “white dwarfs” but project their outer layers outward before performing this transformation. This material, projected at very high speed, destroys nearby objects and also strongly damages the planets by removing the outer layers of the latter in addition to the atmospheres.

According to a study by researchers at the University of Warwick, published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, the remaining nuclei of these planets can “survive” for a necessary time, from 100 million to a billion years, so that they can be detected by our telescopes.

This is not an absolute novelty: already in the early 90s, Alexander Wolszczan of Pennsylvania State University discovered one of these planets around a pulsar using a method to detect radio waves emitted by the star.

Researchers at the University of Warwick intend to improve this method to detect the magnetic field that forms between a white dwarf and a planetary nucleus in orbit around it. The magnetic field can, in fact, form a unipolar inductor circuit in which the remaining nucleus of the planet acts as a conductor thanks to the fact that inside the nucleus there are more than anything metallic compounds.

This is a real circuit whose radiations are emitted as radio waves that can be detected by terrestrial radio telescopes. Among other things, an effect of this kind has already been noted between Jupiter and one of his moons, Io.

According to Dimitri Veras, one of the authors of the study, “There is a weak point to detect these planetary nuclei: a nucleus too close to the white dwarf would be destroyed by tidal forces and a nucleus too far away would not be detectable. Also, if the magnetic field is too strong, it would push the core into the white dwarf, destroying it. Therefore, we should only look for planets around the white dwarf ones with weaker magnetic fields at a distance of about 3 solar rays, the distance Mercury-Sun.”

In any case, finding the only nucleus of a “naked” planet would represent a very important discovery that would help to discover the history of star systems as well as allowing you to take a look at the future history of our solar system and specifically of our planet which should not be very different.

Bill Stern

I am a professor of Biology at Marquette University and the founder of The Chunk. Throughout my life I have always had a strong interest in science and learning more about how the world works, and have always wanted to eventually become a science popularizer and educator myself. The Chunk, along with my responsibilities as a professor, is my attempt at improving science education and literacy.

3560 Sycamore Lake Road, Mayville Wisconsin, 53050
920-387-9926
[email protected]
Bill Stern
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Scientists discover genes involved in the life extension of fruit flies

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A group of Russian geneticists studied the Drosophila melanogaster, also called “fruit fly,” a model organism widely used in the research world as its genome is very well known and contains genes related to 40% of human diseases.

Moreover other characteristics, like the duration of the life of only a couple of months and the fact that this insect has two sexes, unlike other creatures like the nematodes, push more and more the researchers to use them during the experiments in order then to make correlations with the human beings. It is also the case of this study, published in Scientific Reports, which analyzed the genetic activity of the fruit fly to better understand the biology underlying the aging of its longevity.

Specifically, they used a Drosophila strain bred with the partially suppressed E (z) gene. It is a gene that influences the activity of other genes. The flies with this mutated gene show a considerably longer lifespan than the others and present greater resistance to adverse environmental conditions.

The researchers not only confirmed the positive effect of this mutation that allows fruit flies to extend their lives by 22-23% but they also discovered a positive effect on fertility as Alexey Moskalev, one of the authors of the study, explains: “It is known that in Drosophila, the extension of lifespan induced by mutation is often associated with reduced reproduction. But in our case, we have seen an increase in mutant female fertility in all age groups.”

They then discovered 239 genes involved in the mutation as well as in the midge’s metabolism as the scientist himself explains: “We found that the mutation triggers a global alteration of metabolism. It affects carbohydrate metabolism, lipid metabolism and nucleotide metabolism, as well as the activity of the immune response genes and protein synthesis.”

Important information that could be useful for further research regarding the extension of the life of these flies and in general concerns aging and metabolism linked to human longevity.

Bill Stern

I am a professor of Biology at Marquette University and the founder of The Chunk. Throughout my life I have always had a strong interest in science and learning more about how the world works, and have always wanted to eventually become a science popularizer and educator myself. The Chunk, along with my responsibilities as a professor, is my attempt at improving science education and literacy.

3560 Sycamore Lake Road, Mayville Wisconsin, 53050
920-387-9926
[email protected]
Bill Stern
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Mini human liver created in the laboratory to simulate diseases and study them

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Miniature cultured human liver labs were created by a group of researchers from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. The “mini livers” could help to simulate the progressions of various liver diseases and therefore to test their therapies.

The researchers transformed genetically modified human skin cells into 3D liver tissue in “stripped” mouse livers of their own cells. Real functional 3D mini livers have therefore blossomed in the laboratory with lots of blood vessels and structural features of a normal human liver.

Researchers have already managed to mimic in particular non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. This condition sees the accumulation of fatty parts in the liver, a condition which in turn leads to very serious diseases such as cirrhosis or liver failure.

This is the first time that genetically modified human “mini livers” are created, as recalled by Alejandro Soto-Gutierrez, professor of pathology in Pittsburgh and senior author of the study. This is an important result because very often the experiments that are carried out on animals, mainly on mice, even if promising, do not turn out to be effective in clinical studies on humans.

This is because, of course, “mice are not human,” as Soto-Gutierrez himself recalls. There are some important differences between us and them, including mutations that predispose us to specific diseases, which is not possible to study in mice.

Bill Stern

I am a professor of Biology at Marquette University and the founder of The Chunk. Throughout my life I have always had a strong interest in science and learning more about how the world works, and have always wanted to eventually become a science popularizer and educator myself. The Chunk, along with my responsibilities as a professor, is my attempt at improving science education and literacy.

3560 Sycamore Lake Road, Mayville Wisconsin, 53050
920-387-9926
[email protected]
Bill Stern
Continue Reading

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