Body

Acrylamide is considered to be a probable carcinogen and is produced from foods such as potatoes, coffee, wheat and other cereals when they are cooked at high temperatures. Reduced cooking times and temperatures can help to decrease this potentially harmful chemical but scientists at Rothamsted Research and the University of Reading are trying to tackle this problem from its source by investigating how to reduce the precursors of acrylamide in cereal plants. They will report their findings at the Society for Experimental Biology’s Annual Main Meeting in Glasgow on Sunday 1st April.

Inherent gender differences – instead of more sun exposure – may be one reason why men are three times more likely than women to develop certain kinds of skin cancer, say researchers at Ohio State University Medical Center.

Tree frogs have the unique ability to stick to smooth surfaces even when they are tilted well beyond the vertical - some small tree frogs can even adhere when completely upside down. Conversely when walking or jumping they can detach their toe pads easily. Researchers from the University of Glasgow will present insights into how this fascinating ability is controlled at the Society for Experimental Biology’s Annual Meeting in Glasgow, UK.

Most people know that their nails always go soft and bendy when they immerse them in hot water for any length of time. Conversely when you cut your nails they dry up and become hard and brittle. But why is this? Biologists working with material scientists at the University of Manchester have worked out the best conditions for our nails which may ultimately help the cosmetic industry to mimic the real thing and refine their false nail and varnish products.

Box jellyfish are much more active swimmers than other jellyfish – they exhibit strong directional swimming, are able to perform rapid 180 degree turns, and can deftly move in between objects. So how do they manage to manoeuvre the obstacle course that is in the sea bed? Given that they possess an impressive 24 eyes one would think they would be well equipped for this challenge!

The next time you are struggling to carry your bags home from the supermarket just remember that this could, in fact, be the reason you are able to walk upright on two legs at all! How we have evolved to walk on two legs remains a fundamental but, as yet, unresolved question for scientists. A popular explanation is that it is our ability to carry objects, particularly children, which forced early hominins onto two legs.

Previously, only amorphous polymer materials approached such levels of performance. On the other hand, these “gigantic respiration” and their respiration, which takes place at constant overall shape, is reversible.

Proteins, which form much of the molecular machinery required for life, are the targets of most drug molecules. One third of all proteins are membrane proteins – embedded within the cell’s fatty outer layer. While scientists can easily study the other two-thirds using such tools as antibodies, they have not had such methods to investigate the membrane-embedded portions of proteins.

Chemists from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and Arizona State University have proposed an elegantly simple technique for cleaving proteins into convenient pieces for analysis.

Using a brace of the most modern tools of materials research, a team from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and Northwestern University has shed new light on one of mankind’s older construction materials—cement.