In short

In short

Light too affects drinks

Conventional methods to test the shelf life of products, say on retail displays, focus on heat and ignore the effect of light. Scientists exposed a soft drink containing saffron to different levels of light at rising temperatures. They found that the beverage grew lighter in colour as the intensity of the light increased, confirming that light can cause a dramatic decrease in quality. Researchers have developed a model that measures light-sensitivity and temperature to provide a more reliable method for predicting the shelf life and may help consumers choose fresher products.

plant sciences
Mexican maize

A study shows that maize may have been domesticated in Mexico as early as 10,000 years ago and were radically different from the present-day plant.Scientists used smaller parts, or microfossils of the maize plant, like cellular silica deposits and pollen and starch grains for the study. These are preserved under both humid and dry conditions. Macrobotanical remains such as maize kernels, cobs, and leaves used earlier to estimate the time of domestication are not preserved well and the conclusions based on them are fragmentary.

atmospheric sciences
Acid rain resistant bacteria

Little was known about how acid rain impacted bacteria that form the foundation of freshwater ecosystems. Researchers say they have found that although there was a link between increased acidity and decreased bacterial diversity, surprisingly, most of the dominant bacteria species were not directly impacted by acidification. Only a few rare kinds of bacteria correlated to acidity. The findings could allow scientists to use these bacteria as indicators of lake recovery

earth sciences
Earth core changing, fast

Motions in the fluid of the Earth's core are changing fast, and this affects its magnetic field, reveals a study. Measurements of the Earth's magnetic field over the past nine years have made it possible to reveal what is happening 3,000 km down under. Researchers have computed a model for the flow at the top of the Earth's core that fits with the changes in the magnetic field. This flow is localized and involves variations, almost sudden, over a few months--a remarkably short interval compared with the time of the last magnetic field reversal, some 780,000 years ago

industry and technology
Detecting flu viruses easily

Researchers have reported a fast and sensitive test to detect flu viruses. It does not require refrigeration and can be used in remote areas where new flu viruses often emerge. The study, published in the July 2 issue of the Journal of the American Chemical Society, used sugar molecules and not antibodies. Conventional tests for flu viruses rely on antibodies to recognize viruses. But antibody-based tests can be expensive and require refrigeration. Their solution involved development of artificial forms of a sugar molecule found on the surface of cells that flu viruses attach to when they attack humans. The sugar could be used to quickly capture and identify the virus strains

Less arsenic in the deep

Deeper part of an aquifer system may provide sustainable source of arsenic-safe water in the Bengal basin. Millions of people in the region drink groundwater containing unsafe concentrations of arsenic. This high-arsenic groundwater is produced from shallow, less than 100 metre depths, domestic and irrigation wells. Bangladesh has started installing wells to depths of more than 150 m where groundwater arsenic concentrations are nearly uniformly low. However, deeper pumping could induce downward migration of dissolved arsenic, permanently destroying the deep resource. A study says that the deeper part of the aquifer system may provide a sustainable source of arsenic-safe water if its use is restricted to domestic supply

Mom's to blame for the flab

Why is everyone getting heavier? Maternal obesity could promote obesity in the next generation, says a new study. Overweight mothers give birth to offspring who become even heavier, resulting in amplification of obesity across generations, said researchers of the study published in the International Journal of Obesity. They found chemical changes in the ways genes are expressed, a phenomenon called epigenetics. The researchers studied the effect of maternal obesity in three generations of genetically identical mice, all with the same genetic tendency to overeat.

environmental sciences
Disposing CFLs safely

Researchers have invented mercury-absorbent materials for commercial use that can be used to line the inside of packaging of compact fluorescent lamps (cfls). This could be a solution to the environmental conundrum of how to dispose of cfls. Each cfl contains a small amount (3-5 milligrams) of mercury, a neurotoxin that can be released as vapour when a bulb is broken. The packaging can be placed over the area where a bulb has been broken to absorb the mercury vapour, or capture the mercury of a bulb broken in the box. The researchers have also created a specially designed lining for plastic bags that soaks up the mercury left over from the cfl shards.

Related Stories

No stories found.
Down To Earth