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Scientists Have Found A Way To Unboil Egg Whites

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It doesn't work as well as a metaphor for how some things in life are irreversible, but scientists have recently mastered a technique for un-cooking egg whites.

As an egg goes from raw to boiled, the protein in the egg white changes from liquid, transparent, tightly wound individual clumps to solid, opaque, long tangled strands. To "un-boil" it, scientists would need to liquify the structure and then untangle the protein molecules. Which is exactly what a group of researchers out of UC Irvine have done, publishing their findings in the journal ChemBioChem.

First, the team led by Gregory Weiss, UCI professor of chemistry and molecular biology & biochemistry, cooked an egg at 90 degrees Celsius (194 degrees Fahrenheit) for 20 minutes—rendering it not just boiled but certainly overcooked. (If you plan on eating your egg and not using it for scientific research, definitely don't boil it that long.)

To start the un-boiling process, the scientists added a urea chemical compound that liquefies the solid substance—but it doesn't untangle things on the molecular level. To do that, they made use of a vortex fluid device, a high-powered machine developed in Australia that works by applying intense stress within thin, microfluidic films to separate the individual protein structures.

But re-raw-ifying overcooked eggs is hardly the end game of Weiss' team's research.

"It's not so much that we're interested in processing the eggs; that's just demonstrating how powerful this process is," Weiss said. "The real problem is there are lots of cases of gummy proteins that you spend way too much time scraping off your test tubes, and you want some means of recovering that material." The cases Weiss is talking about have wide-ranging implications, including development of cancer treatments, which currently rely on expensive, time-consuming methods that can take up to four days to separate tangled proteins.

"The new process takes minutes," Weiss said. "It speeds things up by a factor of thousands."

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Belly Flop Physics 101: The Science Behind the Sting
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Belly flops are the least-dignified—yet most painful—way of making a serious splash at the pool. Rarely do they result in serious physical injury, but if you’re wondering why an elegant swan dive feels better for your body than falling stomach-first into the water, you can learn the laws of physics that turn your soft torso a tender pink by watching the SciShow’s video below.

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What's the Saltiest Water in the World?
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Saltwater is common around the world—indeed, salty oceans cover more than two-thirds of the globe. Typical saltwater found in our oceans is about 3.5% salt by weight. But in some areas, we find naturally occurring saltwater that's far saltier. The saltiest water yet discovered is more than 12 times saltier than typical seawater.

Gaet’ale is a pond in Ethiopia which currently holds the record as the most saline water body on Earth. The water in that pond is 43.3% dissolved solids by weight—most of that being salt. This kind of water is called hypersaline for its extreme salt concentration.

In the video below, Professor Martyn Poliakoff explains this natural phenomenon—why it's so salty, how the temperature of the pond affects its salinity, and even why this particular saltwater has a yellow tint. Enjoy:

For the paper Poliakoff describes, check out this abstract.

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