Moth spit produces bigger potatoes

ITHACA, N.Y. (UPI) — Spit from a caterpillar helps Colombian Andes potatoes grow larger, a finding that could benefit farmers worldwide, scientists said.

The saliva of the potato moth larvae, Tecia solanivora, increases the rate of photosynthesis in the Colombian Andes potato plant, Solanum tuberosum, researchers from Cornell University said.

More photosynthesis means more carbon is drawn into the plant, which creates more starch and larger tubers, said co-author Andre Kessler, who teaches ecology and evolutionary biology at Cornell.

The plant may be compensating for tubers lost to damage from the caterpillar, a major pest, researchers from Cornell and the National University of Colombia said in a release Thursday.

“This could be an example where the co-evolutionary arms race led to a beneficial outcome for both,” Kessler said.

Future experiments will test more commercial varieties of potatoes, as well as wild potatoes, Kessler and his team wrote in a recent issue of the journal Ecological Applications.

Received and published by Henry Sapiecha 7th June 2010




Hi, this is Rex Ellis.

I am thrilled because my Harvest Post has now reached production stage! I have been developing this idea since 2006 and have had  great feed back and a lot of encouragement by the industry.
Have a look at the post with the baskets in the pic  and see for yourself. Today we have been out to sea and have sank the post within seconds into the sea bed. It was indeed very difficult to remove it again. The harvest post is very strong and can carry multiple baskets with single compartments in order to grow shellfish stress free and in a shorter time than so far possible thanks to 48 single compartments per basket.

I am ready to take your orders, please contact me for a quote on a custom made solution for your needs.





Rex Ellis

About Me

I have worked in the plastic industry for over 20 years. We developed different products like tanks and a plastic picket fence with an inbuilt watering system. The idea about the revolutionising way of growing shellfish came to me when I saw how labour intensive and physically demanding the growing of shellfish is. Because I love eating oysters, scallops and mussels myself I want to see the highest quality of shellfish grown especially in New Zealand, my home country and Australia, my chosen place to live

0407 820 030

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 4th May 2010

Thermal Analysis of Foods


Foods usually have complex compositions and are subjected to many changes in temperature during production, transport, storage and processing. Pasteurization, sterilization, cooking and freezing are only some examples of such processes. Along with the factors of time and water content, temperature changes can have a decisive impact on the quality of foods.

Many substances are metastable and undergo phase changes during storage. Chemical reactions such as hydrolysis or oxidation can change color, appearance, or texture, or can even cause foods to become inedible. A good understanding of the effect of temperature changes on the physical and chemical properties of foods is therefore important for manufacturers in order to be able to optimize processing conditions and improve product quality.

Various Thermal Analysis methods, primarily Differential Scanning Calorimetry (DSC) and Thermogravimetry (TG) but also Dynamic-Mechanical Analysis (DMA), yield meaningful results for the evaluation of foods and their raw ingredients. NETZSCH-Gerätebau GmbH, a renowned manufacturer of instruments for Thermal Analysis and for the determination of thermophysical properties, provides equipment for all of the techniques needed for a comprehensive characterization.


For example, the specific heat (cp) indicates the amount of heat energy which must be supplied to or removed from a unit quantity of substance in order to change its temperature by one degree centigrade. This makes the specific heat to an extremely important parameter in the drafting of cooling, freezing, or heating procedures.
Some biological materials, as well as some spray-dried, ground or frozen substances, are amorphous; in other words, thermodynamically they are in a state of non-equilibrium.

This is characterized by a so-called glass transition, the temperature position of which is a function of several factors including the water content. Associated temperature-dependent phase changes can thereby cause powders to become sticky, affect the crispness of breakfast cereals or cause gelled starches to crystallize.

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 18th October 2009


Rats found to mentally re-enact events


look_im_a_star_mouse Rat thinks its a star

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (UPI) — U.S. scientists say they have discovered rats engage in a mental re-enactment of their recent experiences when choosing what actions to take.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers said they recorded the activity of single neurons called “place cells” in a brain structure — the hippocampus — that has been shown to be crucial for learning and memory. They found place cells are activated in a unique pattern and sequence for each specific location in a maze.

When examining the brain recordings, the scientists determined the same pattern and sequence of activation took place during pauses in activity, and when rats confronted a choice of routes in the maze. The researchers found while a rat is awake but standing still in the maze, its neurons fire in the same pattern of activity that occurred while it was running.

“This may be the rat equivalent of ‘thinking,'” said Professor Matthew Wilson, who led the study. “This thinking process looks very much like the reactivation of memory that we see during non-REM dream states, consisting of bursts of time-compressed memory sequences lasting a fraction of a second. So thinking and dreaming may share the same memory reactivation mechanisms.”

The researchers, who included Fabian Kloosterman and Thomas Davidson, say their findings might also reflect how memory systems fail in people with Alzheimer’s disease and schizophrenia.


The study appears in the journal Neuron.

Copyright 2009 by United Press Internationa

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 8th Sept 2009


20 of the least known



1…GEORGE C BEIDLER. USA inventor of the photocopier in 19…

2…HARRY BREARLY. English inventor of stainless steel in 1913

3…WILLIS CARRIER.USA inventor of air-conditioning in 1902

5…MRS W.A. COCHRAN. USA inventor of the auto dishwasher

6…ADOLF E FICK. German inventor of contact lenses in 1887

7…DR. R.N. HARGER. American inventor of the breathaliser in 1938 [or drunkometer as it was known then]

8…EDWIN T HOLMES. USA inventor of the burglar alarm in 1858

9…MILLER REECE HUTCHINSON. USA inventor of hearing aid

10..WITCOMB L JUDSON. American inventor of the zip in 1893

11..CARLTON C MAGEE. USA inventor of the park meter in 19…

12..JACK MARKS. English inventor of the boxer’s gumshield 1902

13..KARL LUDWIG NESSLER. German inventor of the hair perm in 1906 [only became a hairdresser because his eyesight was too poor for shoe making]

14..JAMES RANSOME. English inventor of the motor mower 1902

15..ERIK ROTHEIM. Norwegian inventor of the aerosol in 1926

16..LUCIEN B SMITH. American inventor of barbed wire in 1874

17..CHARLES STRITE. American inventor of the toaster in 1927

18..JOHAAN VAALER. Norwegian inventor of the paperclip in 1900

19..ARTHUR WYNNE. English inventor of the crossword in 1913

20..JOSEPH L ZIMMERMAN. American inventor of the telephone answering machine in 1949. [His first device was called the Electronic Secretary]

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 7th July 2009


EPA bans carbofuran in food crops


WASHINGTON (UPI) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has revoked all regulations permitting small amounts of the residue of carbofuran in food.

The EPA’s Monday decision was hailed by the American Bird Conservancy as marking “a huge victory for wildlife and the environment.”

The action involves a pesticide sold under the name “Furadan” by the FMC Corp. The EPA said the toxic insecticide does not meet current U.S. food safety standards. The EPA said its ruling will eliminate residues of carbofuran in food, including imports. Ultimately, the federal agency said, it will remove the pesticide from the market.

The conservancy said the agency’s announcement confirms a proposed action first announced in July. FMC Corp. will have 90 days to challenge the decision. Once the rule becomes final, the EPA will proceed with the cancellation of registration for all uses of the pesticide.
“Carbofuran causes neurological damage in humans, and one of the most deadly pesticides to birds left on the market,” said George Fenwick, president of the conservancy. “It is responsible for the deaths of millions of wild birds since its introduction in 1967, including Bald and Golden Eagles, Red-tailed Hawks and migratory songbirds. This EPA decision marks a huge victory for wildlife and the environment.”
The EPA said it was encouraging growers to “switch to safer pesticides or other environmentally preferable pest control strategies.”

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 18thn May 2009


Flesh eating robot on wheels

Chew Chew

Chew Chew the gastrobot (Pic: New Scientist)

At last, a robot that is powered by food – but watch out, this gastrobot’s ideal food is flesh!

According to this week’s New Scientist, a researcher at the University of South Florida has developed a 12-wheeled monster called Chew Chew, with a microbial fuel cell stomach that uses E. coli bacteria to break down food and convert chemical energy into electricity.

“Turning food into electricity isn’t unique,” says Wilkinson. “What I’ve done is make it small enough to fit into a robot”.

The microbes produce enzymes that break down carbohydrates, releasing electrons which are harnessed to charge a battery by a reduction and oxidation reaction.

Wilkinson says this is analogous to blood supply and respiration in a mammal – but delivering electrons instead of oxygen.

Gastrobot consists of three 1-metre long wheeled wagons complete with pumps for redox solution, battery bank, oesophagus, ultrasonic eyes, mouth, DC motor and E.coli powered stomach.

Unfortunately, the microbial fuel cell doesn’t produce enough power to actually move Chew Chew. Instead, the electricity is used to charge the batteries and only when these are fully charged does can the robot move. When the batteries are drained, the cycle must then be repeated.

According to New Scientist, early applications for gastrobots are likely to include mowing lawns – grazing on grass clippings for fuel.

The ideal fuel in terms of energy gain is meat, says inventor Stuart Wilkinson, but at the moment Chew Chew lives on sugar cubes.

Catching meat would require the robot to produce more energy and besides Wilkinson isn’t so sure it’s good to give gastrobots a taste for meat.

Conversion to eat carion flesh or decaying corpses is another option.

“Otherwise they’ll notice there’s an awful lot of humans running around and try to eat them,” he warns.

Tags: science-and-technology

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 13th May 2009


Beer helps scientists find



An ingredient of beer, brewer’s yeast, can ‘smell’ explosives (Image: iStockphoto)(Source: iStockphoto)

Biotechnologists have genetically engineered brewer’s yeast to glow green in response to an ingredient found in landmines, a new study shows.

The study, published today online in the journal Nature Chemical Biology, shows the yeast can detect, or smell, airborne particles from explosives.

The scientists engineered the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae to sense molecules of the chemical DNT, or dinitrotoluene.

DNT is left over after making the explosive TNT, or trinitroluene. And dogs trained to sniff for explosives are believed in fact to be trained to detect DNT.

The scientists spliced a gene found in rats into the yeast’s genome so that the surface of its cells reacted in response to DNT.

To get a visual cue as to whether this ‘nose’ had detected DNT, the scientists also added a gene to turn the yeast a fluorescent green when contact was made.

The authors, led by Associate Professor Danny Dhanasekaran of Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia, believe they have found a useful, if so far experimental, type of biosensor.

These gadgets use organisms to detect environmental chemicals, including biological or chemical weapons.

In the past, scientists have shown that organisms such as moths and bees can detect explosives

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 13th May 2009


Chocolate may cure coughs


Go on, have another bite (Image: iStockphoto)

An ingredient in chocolate could be used to stop persistent coughs and lead to more effective medicines, say U.K. researchers.

Their small study found that theobromine, found in cocoa, was nearly a third more effective in stopping persistent coughs than codeine, currently considered the best cough medicine.

The Imperial College London researchers, who published their results online in the FASEB Journal, said the discovery could lead to more effective cough treatments.

“While persistent coughing is not necessarily harmful it can have a major impact on quality of life, and this discovery could be a huge step forward in treating this problem,” said Professor Peter Barnes of Imperial College and Royal Brompton Hospital.

Ten healthy volunteers were given theobromine, codeine or a dummy pill during the trial.

Neither the volunteers nor the researchers knew who received which pill.

The researchers then measured levels of capsaicin, which is used in research to cause coughing and as an indicator for how well the medicines are suppressing coughs.

The team found when the volunteers were given theobromine, the concentration of capsaicin needed to produce a cough was around a third higher than in the placebo group.

When they were given codeine they needed only marginally higher levels of capsaicin to cause a cough compared with the placebo.

The researchers said that theobromine worked by suppressing vagus nerve activity, which is responsible for causing coughing.

They also found that unlike some standard cough treatments, theobromine caused no adverse effects on the cardiovascular or central nervous systems, such as drowsiness.

Dry coughs

The type of cough medicine someone takes depends on the type of cough they have.

Productive coughs, or coughs associated with phlegm, are treated with expectorants, drugs that help the body expel mucus from the respiratory tract.

But dry coughs are treated with antitussives, medicines that suppress the body’s urge to cough. And it is the antitussive class of cough medicines that the U.K. researchers looked at.

Antitussives can work centrally, via the brain, or peripherally, via the respiratory tract.

Codeine is one of the antitussives that acts centrally. But the researchers think that theobromine acts on the peripheral nervous system.

Theobromine is also a stimulant and belongs to the same class of molecule as caffeine.

While their chemical structures are similar, they have very different effects on the body. Theobromine is a mild, lasting stimulant that improves your mood while caffeine is stronger and acts very quickly to increase alertness.

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 13th May 2009


TV may cure chocolate cravings


A flickering TV image may interfere with chocolate cravings, early research says (Image: iStockphoto)

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Chocoholics might conquer their cravings by watching a flickering, untuned television for a few seconds, Australian research suggests.

Dr Eva Kemps and colleagues from Flinders University in Adelaide, publish their findings on the effect of random, flickering patterns on chocolate cravings in the February issue of the journal Eating Behaviors.

Cravings are triggered when people conjure up vivid mental images of a desired food or activity, Kemps says.

And these latest findings back the theory that looking at randomly flickering images interferes with the production of these vivid mental images. This would reduce their clarity, and so reduce the intensity of the cravings, she says.

While preliminary, Kemps says these findings may be “very comforting” and offer hope for people struggling with binge eating or obesity triggered by chocolate craving.

Another advantage, she says, is that watching a flickering image is more passive than high-energy distractions often recommended, like running.

“It is a tool people can use themselves … and not another one of those hard things [people with cravings] feel they have to do to deal with their eating problems,” she says.

Dreaming of chocolate


The researchers asked 48 female undergraduates to visualise images of chocolate cake, chocolate bars, chocolate pudding, chocolate ice cream, chocolate drinks, chocolate mousse or chocolate brownies.

Meanwhile, they were asked to look at a blank computer screen, or at a computer screen with randomly flickering black and white dots, for eight seconds.

Everyone in the study had a decrease in cravings when looking at the flickering images compared to when they looked at the blank computer screen.

But the reduction in chocolate cravings was more marked in people who admitted they craved chocolate compared with those who said they merely liked chocolate.

The researchers were surprised to find that listening to irrelevant speech in a foreign language reduced chocolate cravings too, but by not as much as the randomly flickering images.

Kemps believes the technique, which scientists know is useful for post-traumatic stress disorder and cigarette cravings, will ultimately help people conquer cravings in all types of addictions.

“But it’s probably not going to be all the treatment you are going to need,” she says.

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 13th May 2009