Do you really think you’re a foodie?

Think you’re a foodie? Adventurous eaters, known as “foodies,” are often associated with indulgence and excess. However, a new Cornell Food and Brand Lab study shows just the opposite -adventurous eaters weigh less and may be healthier than their less-adventurous counterparts.

The nationwide U.S. survey of 502 women showed that those who had eaten the widest variety of uncommon foods — including seitan, beef tongue, Kimchi, rabbit, and polenta– also rated themselves as healthier eaters, more physically active, and more concerned with the healthfulness of their food when compared with non-adventurous eaters. “They also reported being much more likely to have friends over for dinner,” said lead author Lara Latimer, PhD, formerly at the Cornell Food and Brand Lab and now at the University of Texas.

“These findings are important to dieters because they show that promoting adventurous eating may provide a way for people -especially women — to lose or maintain weight without feeling restricted by a strict diet,” said coauthor Brian Wansink, (author of Slim by Design: Mindless Eating Solutions for Everyday Life). He advises, “Instead of sticking with the same boring salad, start by adding something new. It could kick start a more novel, fun and healthy life of food adventure.”

The article is published in the journal Obesity. It is authored by former Cornell researchers, Lara Latimer, PhD, (currently a Lecturer at the University of Texas at Austin) and Lizzy Pope, PhD, RD (currently Assistant Professor at the University of Vermont), and Brian Wansink, (Professor and Director of the Food and Brand Lab at Cornell University.


Story Source:

The above post is reprinted from materials provided by Cornell Food & Brand Lab. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Latimer, Lara; Lizzy Pope, and Brian Wansink. Food Neophiles: Profiling the Adventurous Eater. Obesity, 2015

What Is Electrical Resistivity?

Ohm's Law can be used to find the electrical resistance applied to a circuit by resistors.
Ohm’s Law can be used to find the electrical resistance applied to a circuit by resistors.

Electrical resistivity is the characteristic of a conductor, a semiconductor, or an insulator that limits the amount of current flow. It is determined by the atomic or molecular properties that may either allow or impede the flow of free electrons through the material. Electrical resistivity is almost the same as electrical resistance with the slight difference in the way electrical resistivity may refer to resistance of a specific length of a material. For instance, a basic unit of resistivity could refer to the amount of resistance per unit length of a copper cable.

Ohm’s law provides the relationship between the electrical resistance (R), the voltage (V), and the current flow in amperes (A). Resistance is the ratio of the voltage to the current. For the same voltage, a higher current is a result of a lower resistance. An electrical fuse is meant to have a very low voltage drop when placed in series with an electrical load. If the load is 9.999 ohms and the fuse has a resistance of 0.001 ohms, a 10-volt (V) supply voltage will produce a current of 1 A and the voltage across the fuse is negligible at 0.001 V.

Electrical resistivity tomography is an imaging tool that is able to present a three-dimensional profile of embedded materials. This is accomplished by using embedded electrodes and direct current (DC) to create a two-dimensional image. By using perpendicular image planes, it is possible to have an idea of the three-dimensional layout.

Various elements with notable electric resistivity have different uses in electrical applications. Silver and gold are very low-electrical resistivity elements that are used for special applications such as microbonding used in the semiconductor industry. Copper is the chosen commercial conductor sure to its acceptable electrical resistivity and relatively low price. Carbon is a low-cost material of choice for medium to high resistance resulting in huge varieties of carbon resistance in the market. The high stability of tungsten in relatively high temperatures makes it a common choice for incandescent and filament applications such as light bulbs, wire-wound variable resistors, and electric heaters.

Contact electrical resistance is usually very low when the conductive surfaces are not contaminated. In the case of relay contacts, the pressure that temporarily joins them determines how low the resistance will drop when the contact is closed. If the pressure is not enough and the current is high, it is possible for the contact to form plasma that can melt the contact. The spark generated due to repeated closures shortens the relay lifespan. In most cases, it is a good idea to use electronic DC switches such as the silicon-controlled rectifier (SCR) or use electronic alternating current (AC) switches like the three-terminal AC (TRIAC) switch.

 

Source / Courtesy : WiseGeek

How a newborn baby sees you

This is how a newborn infant percieves expressions at different distances. Credit: Illustration by Professor Bruno Laeng/ UiO.
This is how a newborn infant percieves expressions at different distances.
Credit: Illustration by Professor Bruno Laeng/ UiO.

[dropcap]A[/dropcap] newborn infant can see its parents’ expressions at a distance of 30 cm. For the first time researchers have managed to reconstruct infants visual perception of the world.

By combining technology, mathematics and previous knowledge of the visual perception of infants, researchers have finally succeeded in showing to an adult audience how much of its environment a newborn baby can actually see. The results tell us that an infant of 2 to 3 days old can perceive faces, and perhaps also emotional facial expressions, at a distance of 30 centimeters — which corresponds to the distance between a mother and her nursing baby. If the distance is increased to 60 centimeters, the visual image gets too blurred for the baby to perceive faces and expressions.

The study was conducted by researchers at the Institute of psychology at The University of Oslo in collaboration with colleagues at the University of Uppsala and Eclipse Optics in Stockholm, Sweden.

Live pictures

The study plugs a gap in our knowledge about infants’ visual world, which was left open for several decades. It may also help explain claims that newborn babies can imitate facial expressions in adults during the first days and weeks of their lives, long before their vision is sufficiently developed to perceive details in their environments. The key word is motion.

“Previously, when researchers have tried to estimate exactly what a newborn baby sees, they have invariably used still photos. But the real world is dynamic. Our idea was to use images in motion,” says professor emeritus Svein Magnussen from the Institute of Psychology.

Testing an old idea

Early in his career, Magnussen conducted research into the visual perception of humans. One day, about 15 years ago, he found himself discussing with colleagues the problem of testing whether newborn infants are really able to perceive facial expressions in people around them. The researchers agreed that if it were true that babies could see and imitate facial expressions, the reason might be that the faces were moving.

“Back then we had neither the equipment nor the technical competence to test our idea. We dug it out again only a year ago. So, our results are based on an old idea which nobody had tested in the meantime,” he says.

What makes facial expressions intelligible? In order to carry out the test, the researchers had to combine modern simulation techniques with previous insight into how infants’ vision works. We have a great deal of information about young infants’ contrast sensitivity and spatial resolution from behavioural studies conducted, for the most part, in the 80s. At that time, it was discovered that presenting an infant with a figure against a uniformly grey background, caused the infant to direct its gaze towards the figure.

“Figures made up of black and white stripes were used. By choosing a certain stripe width and frequency, the field would appear uniformly grey, and the child would not direct its gaze towards it. Changing the width and frequency to make up figures, made it possible to determine the exact level of contrast and spatial resolution needed to make the infant direct its gaze towards the figure,” Magnussen says.

In other words, the researchers had access to quite accurate information about newborn infants’ vision. What was unknown to them, was the practical consequences of this information. Does it, for instance, mean that a newborn baby can see the expression in the face of an adult bending over the baby?

Movement is easier to see

It’s easier to recognise something that moves, than a blurry still photo. The researchers made video recordings of faces that changed between several emotional expressions, and subsequently filtered out the information which we know is unavailable to newborn infants. Then they let adult participants see the videos. The idea was that if the adults were unable to identify a facial expression, then we can certainly assume that a newborn would also be unable to do so.

The adult participants correctly identified facial expressions in three out of four cases when viewing the video at a distance of 30 centimeters. When the distance was increased to 120 centimeters, the participants’ rate of identification were about what one could expect from random responding. This means that the ability to identify facial expressions based on the visual information available to a newborn baby, reaches its limit at a distance of about 30 centimeters.

Filling a gap in the foundation wall

“It’s important to remember that we have only investigated what the newborn infant can actually see, not whether they are able to make sense of it,” Magnussen points out.

Previous attempts to recreate the newborn baby’s visual reality, for instance in students’ textbooks, have usually relied on taking a normal photograph and blur it. Magnussen confesses himself surprised that nobody before them have made use of the detailed information we possess about infants’ visual perception. Hence this is the first time that we have a concrete estimate of the visual information available to the newborn baby.

Magnussen and his colleagues are happy to finally have been able to carry out an idea that had been on the back burner for fifteen years. But as for developing their results further, they will leave that to others.

“All of us behind this study are really involved in different fields of research now. Our position is: Now a piece of the foundation is in place. If anyone else wants to follow up, that’s up to them,” says Magnussen.


Story Source:

The above post is reprinted from materials provided by University of Oslo. The original item was written by Kjerstin Gjengedal. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. O. von Hofsten, C. von Hofsten, U. Sulutvedt, B. Laeng, T. Brennen, S. Magnussen. Simulating newborn face perception. Journal of Vision, 2014; 14 (13): 16 DOI: 10.1167/14.13.16

Water Under the Bridge – Idiom Thaatha

Water under the bridge

 

The meaning of the idiom Water Under the Bridge is to refer to past events that are no longer important.

Examples:

1. The manager came to the wedding in spite of the trouble that the groom had caused him earlier, as he considered them water under the bridge.

2. The ex-convict could walk to the grocery store without any inhibitions as his evil deeds were water under the bridge.

Olivier Lafont – An Exclusive Interview

Winged Post is happy to have Olivier Lafont, the French actor and author of the mythological novel Warrior‘s exclusive attention and is thrilled to post the interview conducted with him.

Olivier Lafont with his recent novel 'Warrior'
Olivier Lafont with his recent novel ‘Warrior’

How was your transition from France to India? Any difficulties that you faced?

My family moved from France to India when I was seven years old, and the transition was difficult. I joined the American Embassy School, so I had two new cultures to adjust to, American and Indian. I also didn’t know any English, and had to learn it as quickly as possible to join the regular stream of education. The main difficulties I faced were cultural and linguistic. It did take some time, but I grew to love India – which is why I’m still here now.

 

How did you improve your skills in English?

I was able to develop skill in English because I was genuinely interested in the language, in reading, in writing. I became obsessed with my dictionary, even packing it in my suitcase when we traveled so I could learn new words.

 

If not fantasy, what would have been your chosen genre of writing?

That’s a tricky question, since fantasy is a fairly integral part of me and my history. I think I would have probably gravitated to science fiction.

 

If ‘Warrior’ is made into a film, which character do you think you would be fit to play?

I would play Saam – I know him through and through, and have lived his life in my writing.

 

Can you tell us about the research you made for writing this novel? What obstacles did you cross for undertaking the research?

The general research that forms the background of ‘Warrior’ is a lifetime of reading about Indian history, mythology, religion, philosophy. Once I had the idea and structure of the story in mind, I began to explore the pertinent subjects more specifically. Since I like to keep my writing process fairly organic and unpredictable there were many new elements that appeared along the way, so I’d spend time through the writing researching these elements. I don’t think there were any obstacles to my research, it was all straightforward.

Olivier Lafont
Olivier Lafont

After the promotion of ‘Warrior’ can we expect a sequel?

There are some ideas I have in mind, and I’d love to continue the story. There’s a whole world of ideas and themes here I’d like to explore. Let’s see!

 

Your relationship with contemporary writers?

I don’t know any contemporary writers very well, although I’ve met a few. Writing is a private endeavour, whereas media and performing arts involves more people, so most of the people I know are from the media and performing arts.

 

Any issue in India that you consider needs immediate attention and action?

I feel very strongly and urgently about the environment. Whatever may happen politically or socially, the vital bottomline for humanity is the health of the planet. We’re coming dangerously close to the point where all our modern influence won’t be able to turn back the critical mass of negative effects. That said I’m still hopeful about human ingenuity and determination, and that we can turn this ship around if we can get enough people to realise that this matters right now.

 

Does ‘Warrior’ have any message to the society?

I don’t have any message I want to communicate, frankly, with ‘Warrior’. I just want readers to have fun reading it. That said, there was one underlying social theme I wrote in very consciously, that of integration. I believe that integration, especially in a country as amazingly pluralistic as India, can be effectively and beautifully expressed in our art and our culture.

 

What do you think you can do as a writer to change any evil in the society? Have you done anything before?

I think it depends on the person’s ideology. I don’t think I would write a book about a social issue specifically, that’s not how I operate as an artist – and I don’t think people pick up a book in this genre to read about a social cause. If I feel strongly enough about the issue I prefer to be directly active about it. However I do believe that a writer’s ideology is reflected in his or her work. My social ideas and opinions are present in my work, and whatever impact they may have on a reader is the change I feel I can effect through my writing.

Feel free to use the following links to stay in touch with Olivier and his writings. 

‘WARRIOR’ BOOK TRAILER LINK

http://youtu.be/qDLMISZAzME

FACEBOOK PAGE

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Olivier-Lafont/625633327480645?ref=hl

TWITTER

https://mobile.twitter.com/OliLafont

‘WARRIOR’ AMAZON LINK

http://www.amazon.in/Warrior-Olivier-Lafont/dp/0143423630/ref=sr_1_1_twi_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1417183321&sr=8-1&keywords=olivier+lafont+warrior

 

 

Warrior – Literary review

warrior cover

I vividly remember the blood curdling screams that pounded my head into a dulling sensation after sitting hunched up in the midst of my cousins, having listened to tales of monsters in unimaginable forms perform wicked deeds of infinite cruelty. I was scared of them-yes; but I never tired of them. There was in me a passion for stories related to legends, fantasy, magic and mythology. Unlikely heroes who were made so because of necessity, natural heroes who made it look easy whatever they did to become heroes, modest heroes who did not want to be seen doing heroic deeds, selfish heroes who did not want to brave the world and be heroic but were compelled to do so for the sake of someone else – my world was never short of heroes.

People who grew up in close-knit families would still remember with a wistful grin the thrilling and heady feeling they experienced in listening to folktales and myths being spun expertly by their grandmothers. The tales were often accompanied with gruesome laughter, inane sounds and shrieking banshees that made one’s blood freeze with terror. Added to these factors was the singular fact that the stories were usually told after supper under a feeble hurricane lamp that transmogrified a harmless cousin into a seemingly marauding Frankenstein.

It was no surprise then that stories involving monsters, heroes and myths imprinted a lasting impression and continued to make their abode in a corner of my mind, though in a forgotten state. The awakening my mind received regarding mythology was through the pages of Warrior, the mythological adventure story written by Olivier Lafont. What an awakening it was!

Saam, the protagonist of the novel is a demigod with tremendous powers. He lives in Mumbai as a watchmender keeping his powers under wraps. But the situation demands otherwise. The world struggles and totters under the scheme of the Enemy. It is the End of Days and everything that is to be done to save the world can be accomplished only through Saam. He takes on a perilous journey across India and ultimately the world, accompanied by his love Maya – a mortal woman, Ara – his half-brother, Moti and Fateh – two warriors of renown and allies of Ara, Fazal – a scholar and Lalbaal – a friend.

To say that the journey is dangerous would be an understatement. Not knowing the identity of the enemy, the group seems to be on a wild goose chase when the object of its pursuit is found nowhere in this world. The only choice left is to travel to another world resembling this world in another time – a daunting task indeed. However, the greatest difficulty encountered by the group is time – which they do not simply have. The End of Days has to be stopped, if possible, within three days. With time running out, to keep oneself alive and effectuate the immobilization of the End of Days seems to be a hopeless and frightening task. Yet, the group moves ahead, led by Saam – for it is the only hope the world has.

Olivier Lafont surprises the reader in one too many ways. Indian readers would immediately be glued to the story as the setting is predominantly in India, especially Northern. Readers of other countries will get a first hand taste of some of the greatest mythological stories that define India. It is indeed a wonder that a writer with French origin has written a novel that delves deep into Indian mythology and woos readers with its intricate plot and fast paced action. Warrior is a proper mix of action, adventure, fantasy, mythology, brotherhood and family ties. There is of course a tinge of romance. Added to the flavor is betrayal, terrible in its consequence.

Family

India is known for its tradition of strong family ties. Indian culture is made strong and viewed with respect by people of other nationalities due to its deep family roots. It is no wonder that the mythological tales of India are mostly about family affairs, sometimes gone wrong. The author has centred his story on a family heirloom. This single act of Olivier Lafont spreads the strong aroma of Indian culture in which huge importance is accorded to items used by their ancestors.

Saam is portrayed as a demigod with more powers than most other demigods roaming the earth. He has an intense hatred for his father, a god the world fears and reveres. Saam would readily plunge his sword to avenge the death of his mother by his father. The affection between Ara and Saam is warm, affectionate and also heart-wrenching at times. To depict such a variety of emotions surging through the hearts of the half-brothers and make the readers smile, frown, curse and also cry requires great talent; Olivier Lafont does this with ease.

When reading about Ara, one cannot but be reminded of Loki from Norse mythology. The casual arrogance of Ara, his smirky countenance that the reader can readily visualize, his nick name (read the novel to find out) and the strained yet loving fellowship he maintains with his brother resemble the cloudy fellowship between Thor and Loki. The author’s skill in writing is evident in the subtle manner in which the strained relationship between the brothers is brought out in many scenes. The helplessness that the brothers feel in certain situations mists the readers’ eyes.

Though the main characters of this novel are demigods, there is brought out of them human qualities that make the reader undergo variegated emotions. The struggle that Saam undergoes to control his anger and tears, the vulnerability that Saam feels while facing Maya, the distrust that Saam reserves for his half-brother Ara, the fury that the raksha Fateh uses to fuel his training for 300 years, the disappointment that Ara nurses in his bosom and above all, the nature of Saam’s father, a god, to reach out passionately for the love of his demigod son, at the least his friendship – all these speak volumes of the adept writing skills of the young author.

Research

Olivier Lafont has dug the earth quite deep for this novel’s research. The connecting of seemingly different events of the world and making them fall in line to give credibility to the story has been immaculately done by the author. His strength lies in his characters effortlessly traversing the boundaries of time and being believable. The introduction of Lieutenant Geoffrey Gordon from the Skinners Horse of the British Army for instance, has the touch of a master. So is the mention of Einstein, the theory of quantum of mechanics and the year in which Einstein was writing about the behavior of light.

The mention of a Baker carbine cavalry rifle talks again of the intense research having gone behind the making of the Warrior. The credit given to Indian craftsmen for making the rifle better sends roots deeper than before into the Indian soil and Indian mythology. The making of different mythological characters cannot be done as easily as characters are created for a normal novel. Credibility needs to be in balance for the reader to continue reading, for the readers would already be familiar with the mythology. This has been done nonchalantly by Olivier Lafont. The habile touches of the author in bringing us this novel will be appreciated by critics around the world.

Verdict

Olivier Lafont has brought on a silver plate, golden apples worth devouring. The author has made a clean dive into the unfathomable and age-old traditional & rich pit of Indian mythology and has created a unique story with characters that are heroic, godly, believable and very much necessary for this troublesome world to grind into the readers the belief that the future of the world is not bleak. However dark the clouds may gather, there will be a silver lining. The noble and the good must always stand against the evil irrespective of the strength of the enemy. For, to oppose the evil is to be true to your conscience. Olivier sends us the message that the age of chivalry is not yet dead. There still are heroes who will rise when the world needs them. The Warrior is clear about it. This is a novel that will inspire readers and give birth to many more stories worth reading. This book is a jewel that would adorn the shelves of mythological lovers throughout the world and continue to increase the readership level. This is certainly a book to read, and at once.

Rating: 4/5

 

Trees are source for high-capacity, soft batteries

A closeup of the soft battery, created with wood pulp nanocellulose. Credit: Courtesy of Max Hamedi and Wallenberg Wood Science Center
A closeup of the soft battery, created with wood pulp nanocellulose.
Credit: Courtesy of Max Hamedi and Wallenberg Wood Science Center

A method for making elastic high-capacity batteries from wood pulp was unveiled by researchers in Sweden and the US. Using nanocellulose broken down from tree fibres, a team from KTH Royal Institute of Technology and Stanford University produced an elastic, foam-like battery material that can withstand shock and stress.

“It is possible to make incredible materials from trees and cellulose,” says Max Hamedi, who is a researcher at KTH and Harvard University. One benefit of the new wood-based aerogel material is that it can be used for three-dimensional structures.

“There are limits to how thin a battery can be, but that becomes less relevant in 3D, ” Hamedi says. “We are no longer restricted to two dimensions. We can build in three dimensions, enabling us to fit more electronics in a smaller space.”

A 3D structure enables storage of significantly more power in less space than is possible with conventional batteries, he says.

“Three-dimensional, porous materials have been regarded as an obstacle to building electrodes. But we have proven that this is not a problem. In fact, this type of structure and material architecture allows flexibility and freedom in the design of batteries,” Hamedi says.

The process for creating the material begins with breaking down tree fibres, making them roughly one million times thinner. The nanocellulose is dissolved, frozen and then freeze-dried so that the moisture evaporates without passing through a liquid state.

Then the material goes through a process in which the molecules are stabilised so that the material does not collapse.

“The result is a material that is both strong, light and soft,” Hamedi says. “The material resembles foam in a mattress, though it is a little harder, lighter and more porous. You can touch it without it breaking.”

The finished aerogel can then be treated with electronic properties. “We use a very precise technique, verging on the atomic level, which adds ink that conducts electricity within the aerogel. You can coat the entire surface within.”

In terms of surface area, Hamedi compares the material to a pair of human lungs, which if unfurled could be spread over a football field. Similarly, a single cubic decimeter of the battery material would cover most of a football pitch, he says.

“You can press it as much as you want. While flexible and stretchable electronics already exist, the insensitivity to shock and impact are somewhat new.”

Hamedi says the aerogel batteries could be used in electric car bodies, as well as in clothing, providing the garment has a lining.

The research has been carried out at the Wallenberg Wood Science Center at KTH. KTH Professor Lars Wågberg also has been involved, and his work on aerogels is in the basis for the invention of soft electronics. Another partner is leading battery researcher, Professor Yi Cui from Stanford University.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by KTH The Royal Institute of Technology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Gustav Nyström, Andrew Marais, Erdem Karabulut, Lars Wågberg, Yi Cui & Mahiar M. Hamedi. Self-Assembled Three-Dimensional And Compressible Interdigitated Thin Film Supercapacitors And Batteries. Nature Communications, May 29, 2015 DOI:10.1038/ncomms8259

Jiggery-pokery – Vocabwagon

Jiggery-pokery

The meaning of jiggery-pokery is to behave dishonestly or deceitfully.

Jiggery-pokery is a noun.

Examples:

1. Although everyone praised Zadok for his fantastic marks in the board exam, Sam kept quiet because he knew that the high marks were by means of jiggery-pokery and not by fair methods.

2. The jiggery-pokery happening in election leaves one in a state of confusion and uncertainty.

What Is a Power Supply?

Solar panels are a type of power supply.
Solar panels are a type of power supply.

A power supply is a device that takes an incoming electrical current and amplifies it to levels required by various devices. In many instances, this type of device is also implemented to take the incoming electricity and deliver it across many other electronic devices, often at different preset levels. This device allows manufacturers to create electronics and machinery that can handle many different tasks from a single source of power, without the need for various adapters and additional hardware. Within other devices, a power supply is used to transform various types of power into a compatible format to be stored, like solar energy to electrical energy.

Perhaps the most common use of this type of device is within computer systems. As electricity enters the power supply, it is momentarily stored and then distributed to numerous functions throughout the system, allowing the motherboard, hard drive, and other various devices to receive electricity in order to function. Each one of these items requires a separate voltage, and it is delivered through specialized connectors that attach in a certain manner. For example, motherboards require either a 20-pin or a 24-pin power supply, and they are not interchangeable without the purchase of an additional adapter.

Modern vehicles also require a type of power supply in order to function, and it is referred to as an alternator. Although the wiring and design may be different, it essentially works in the exact same manner by taking incoming power and delivering it throughout the vehicle at the necessary levels. Alternators can be found on everything from lawn mowers to sea craft and industrial equipment, and without them, the devices would be rendered useless.

automobile alternator - Winged Post 0419515
An automobile engine’s alternator essentially serves as an electric generator.

Another common type of power supply can be found on windmills and solar panels, and its primary function is to convert various types of energy into electricity so that it can be stored and distributed across a grid. This is referred to as a generator, and it is often a free-standing object that is installed between the power source and the storage unit. Home and commercial generators, used during power outages, also work off of this same premise by transforming petroleum products into electrical energy by means of an engine. Many types of industrial tools also implement a type of generator. Other common types of power supplies are used within circuit breakers, battery-powered items and transformers.

 

Source / Courtesy : WiseGeek

Synthetic spider silk strong enough for a superhero

Spider silk web Winged Post

Spider silk of fantastical, superhero strength is finally speeding toward commercial reality — at least a synthetic version of it is. The material, which is five times stronger than steel, could be used in products from bulletproof vests to medical implants, according to an article in Chemical & Engineering News(C&EN).

Alex Scott, a senior editor at C&EN, notes that spider silk’s impressive strength has been studied for years, and scientists have been trying to make a synthetic version of the super-strong protein in the lab. For other simpler proteins, scientists have been able to insert relevant genes into bacterial DNA, essentially turning the microorganisms into protein factories. But spider silk has not been so easy to churn out. In fact, the challenge has caused big name companies including DuPont and BASF to bow out after several years of investment.

Now, small firms just might have found the right genetic tricks, the article states. They are coaxing not just genetically engineered bacteria but also goats, transgenic silkworms and even alfalfa to produce multiple different versions of synthetic spider and spider-silkworm silks. One company has even taken their iteration to the market — though theirs is a non-fiber kind of spider silk for use in cosmetics. So far, commercialization has been on a modest scale. But the research pipeline for synthetic spider silk is very active, and scientists expect that production is right on the verge of scaling up.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Alex Scott. Spider Silk Poised For Commercial Entry. Chemical & Engineering News, 2014; 92 (9): 24-27 [link]