Category Archives: Science and technology

Why lobsters and Crabs turn red on cooking……..

Popular Food

Lobsters and Crabs are the two Sea foods are mouthwatering and popular all over the world. So much so that fairs are held to celebrate the lobster.  One such festival is held in Rockland, Maine which is attended by thousands.

lobster

Cooking Chemistry

When cooked these creatures turn coppery red. Although it is not necessary to become a chemist to become chefs but cooking is a science where chemistry takes place at each step. Some chemicals break down to get converted into edible and easily digestible form. Similarly in many foods there are color changes when cooked which is also due to chemical modification of ingredients. Here also, chemistry is occurring.

Normal lobster is of muddy color when alive. But the final color is dependent on the amounts of a pigment called astaxanthin which is also the pigment responsible for the red color of carrots, pink of flamingos, salmon and crabs. This pigment is red in color when free. It’s chemical structure is given below.

Due to the ketone and alcohol groups this compound is very active chemically easily binds other chemicals like proteins. Pigment is a powerful antioxidant. Lobsters ingest it to keep stress of survival under control has been found be beneficial human beings.

What happens in the lobster is that this pigment binds to the proteins in its skin. Due to this binding, it is forced to change its geometric structure and gets twisted to fit in. Depending on the type of protein it bonds to, there’s either what’s called a bathochromic shift, which turns the pigment blue, or a hypsochromic shift, to yellow. When you’re looking at a lobster, you’re seeing light reflecting through different layers of free and bonded astaxanthin–a lot of colors mixed together, hence the muddy brown.

So the final color is a combination of many colors like red, blue and amount and type  of proteins present in the body of lobster and the age . The muddy color is good for camouflaging from the predator because it becomes indistinguishable from the muddy water.

When the lobster is cooked the proteins are denatured and release the astaxanthin pigment turning the cooked meat into coppery red.

Advertisements

RO Water Purification Systems

Potable Water in many places contains undesirable impurities like suspended solids and harmful organisms like bacteria and viruses. On the other hand, its chemical composition depends upon its source.

RO water purification systems claim to do remove the suspended impurities. This is done using sand filters also called the pre filters, and killing the harmful organisms by UV light. Next these bring down the total dissolved salts TDS to desirable levels if the water under treatment has excess TDS. Why TDS ? Why not adjust the concentration of individual ions present to the desirable levels?

This they can’t do. These systems only can subtract something from the water composition not make up for the ions concentration which are deficient. As everyone knows, many salts which are essential as micronutrients for our bodies. These are also removed along with the harmful salts. The natural water’s chemical composition is different at different places. Some salts may be present in higher concentration levels. And some desired salts may be in deficit. The ideal drinking water should contain the salts in recommended limits, with no suspended impurities and no bacteria and virus.

But the ionic part is problematic. The RO systems work on bringing down the total dissolved salts (TDS) instead of individual ions. The resultant water has desired TDS but not the desired quantity of individual ions. The systems are not intelligent enough to adjust the concentrations of deficient ions to desired level by addition from outside. Cost will be prohibitively high for all these capabilities.

In conclusion we can say RO systems are as far as the removal of suspended impurities and killing of bacteria and viruses. But on the ionic composition front these are of not much use.

It becomes necessary to compensate this loss, by elevating the intake of these salts through food and other means.

Wholesome Rice!!

Rice is the staple diet of majority of world’s population. Asian people mostly eat rice with vegetables and lentils. Annapurna is the Hindu god of rice. Her name comes from the Sanskrit word for rice, “anna”. She is often depicted with a rice spoon in her hand.

What is the rice? It’s white part is the carbohydrates: precursor of sugar of the energy. The colour of rice comes from its outer shell or ‘bran’ which holds much of its nutritional value. It’s the bran or the coating which contains minerals and other micronutrients.

When rice is processed (milled) much of the nutritional value is lost when the bran is removed. The result is pure white rice which is high in energy(starch) and low in micronutrients. Polished rice are not good for the diabetic people.

Because milled rice has lots of energy but few vitamins and minerals, it must be eaten with other foods to get a proper people balanced diet.

Asparagus and Smelly Urine

Asparagus is very popular in Europe as a vegetable. People in some countries prefer white variety which is not different but lacks chlorophyll as it is grown in areas of very low light.

Asparagus contains a non-toxic acid called Asparagusic acid. This acid contains sulphur element. When it is eaten, the acid in the stomach breaks down the Asparagusic acid into volatile sulphur compounds like mercaptan.

When a person who has consumed asparagus goes to urinate, the sulphur compounds evaporate very fast and get separated from urine and reach the nose giving rotten eggs or rotten cabbage like smell. Studies indicate that effect can be felt within 20 minutes after consumption of asparagus.

Smartphone Security

Smartphones have become in an indispensable accessory for the modern day life. It can perform so many tasks in addition to the original functions of making calls and SMS. Now it can make photos and videos , financial transactions, browse the internet, mail. In contrast to the personal computer, mobile phones do most of these chores using Apps. It also holds the personal information of the owner.

Hackers can send you malicious code hidden inside the innocuous looking videos or email and acquire the complete access to the private sensitive information. It happened recently and victim was not none other than the Jeff Bezos. A malware was sent to him hidden in a video message in Whatsapp allegedly by Saudi Arabian prince Mohammed bin Salman. Hackers were able to break into his phone and copied his sensitive information for blackmail.

Some suggestions about keeping the mobile info safe:

1. Keep system’s OS upto date.

2. Caution when opening videos or documents from unknown persons.

3. Install antivirus

4. Download apps only from app store

5. Backup data regularly

Spying on the leaders

It was when Russia was USSR and soviet state was pushing hard to become at par with US. A top erstwhile spy told that Russian Soviet dictator Stalin, used to spy on the visiting world leaders like Mao to know their hidden personality traits. They even used scientific methods for this. Soviets used to analyze the excreta for Potassium and Amino acid tryptophan to know the state of mind of the leaders. Tryptophan is used by animals for synthesis of proteins essential for growth. Studies indicate that it acts as an antidepressant.

For example, if they detected high levels of amino acid Tryptophan,“ he explained, “they concluded that person was calm and approachable”. On the other hand, potassium ion regulate the blood pressure. The diets rich in Potassium help reduce the high blood pressure. But a lack of potassium in poo was seen as a sign of a nervous disposition and someone with insomnia.

One Planet : Seven Worlds

Sir David Attenborough is an icon in the field of wildlife world. He has explored and brought his rendezvous with nature to common man through his extraordinary documentaries. Now he has brought this documentary “One Planet Seven Worlds” which will be on BBC Earth.

Our Earth has 70% water in the form of oceans and 30% landmass. In the beginning, whole landmass was one continuous mass. At that time, lot was happening inside the Earth. Lots of tectonic activity was occurring and lava as it was cooling down was also spewing out.

Tectonic plates were colliding and pushing against one another. Slowly the single landmass began breaking into fragments. Ultimately it broke into 7 stable land masses separated from each other by the water. These are the seven continents. Asia, Africa, Europe, South America, North America, Oceania and Antarctica.

Each continent has unique climate and geology which has given rise to stunning individual bio-diversities on each continent. That is why, Attenborough calls them Seven Worlds. The series will feature remarkable, new behaviour from different continents. From the extremely hot African plains to frozen waters of Antarctica.

He will also touch how we are now destroying the habitat of the wildlife. Due to this, some species are faced with extinction. Forests are being cut, extreme fishing and pollution is threatening our own and the wildlife existence.

Trailer of One Planet Seven Worlds

Introduction features a very soulful song “Out There” by Australian born singer Sia.

“I pray
Yeah, I’m hoping that if I pray
Maybe you’ll talk back
‘Cause I pray for some faith, some faith today

This walk feels longer in the dark tonight
No hand to hold, no hand in sight
I pour my heart out to the blackest sky
Oh, spirit, can you hear my soul’s cry?

Can you hear my call? Can I have a sign?
‘Cause I am losing hope
Yeah, on my darkest night

This walk feels longer in the dark tonight
No hand to hold, no hand in sight
I pour my heart out to the blackest sky
Oh, spirit, can you hear my soul’s cry?

No, I don’t wanna walk alone, I want to believe
‘Cause I am losing hope
As love will speak to me
Can you hear my call? Can I have a sign?
‘Cause I am losing hope
Yeah, on my darkest night

I got a feeling you’re out there
I got a feeling you’re out there”

Video on Youtube Link

Sia Kate Isobelle Furler

Pink Grasshopper

There is a river near my home. It is a seasonal River and has a large dry bed which is full of pebbles and sand. Many birds which lay their eggs in the nest made on the soil. I generally go for a walk and to take pictures there. Today while I was walking along the pebbles, I noticed a pink coloured pebble.

Something else Was there. It was a pink Grasshopper which is very rare. Usually the Grasshoppers are green coloured to match with the grass background for camouflage which gives them safety against predators.

But this one was of Pink Colour. It was also trying to use camouflage by sitting in the pebbles especially pink ones. It is an unusual and little-understood genetic mutation caused by a recessive gene similar to that which affects albino animals. This mutation results in one of two things happening or even a combination of the two; a reduce or even absence of the normal pigment and/or the excessive production of other pigments, in this case red which results in pink morphs. Such a morph is exposed to predators and rarely achieve the adulthood.

Elements necessary for humans

At present there are 118 elements listed in the periodic table. Some of these elements are commonly found on the earth in the form of ores. Some are radioactive and have very short half lives. Many such elements have been synthesized in the laboratory and live for a very short time.

Human body like other things existing is made of compounds which are made from the elements. Out of these 118 only some elements are connected with the human body.

Although elements as such don’t make up the body it is the combined form that is molecules constitute the human body. But elemental composition is as follows by mass.

Oxygen: 65%

Carbon: 18%

Hydrogen: 10%

Nitrogen: 3%

Other elements: 4%

Other elements include Calcium, Potassium, Phosphorus, Sulphur, Sodium, Chlorine, Magnesium, Boron, Chromium, Cobalt, Copper,  Fluorine, Iodine, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum, Selenium, Silicon, Tin, Vanadium and Zinc.

Although these elements are used in very minor amount, they are crucial to some body processes.

Elements can be divided into different groups according to the functions they perform.

Building Blocks

The main building blocks of the body are proteins which are synthesized from amino acids. For these elements used are Hydrogen, Carbon, Nitrogen, Oxygen, Phosphorus and Sulphur. DNA also contains these elements except Sulphur. DNA is the genetic code.

Enzymes

Enzymes are chemicals which are catalysts for carrying out chemical reactions like breakdown of sugars and other macro molecules. Such enzymes use some elements like Magnesium, Manganese, Copper, Zinc, Selenium and Molybdenum. Enzymes play role in respiration, digestion, metabolism and immune system.

Nerves and Control

Brain sends messages to different parts of the body and this is a two way communication. Electrical signals are carried through electrolytic solutions like brines. Sodium, Potassium and Calcium ions this play the role of transmitting the signals. Similarly Chloride ions regulate the water in and out of cells. Iodine is used to make hormones which regulate metabolism.

Bones and Teeth

Bones make the template on which our body is hoisted. Strong bones and teeth are essential for the healthy body.  Bones and Teeth are made of Calcium and phosphate. Phosphate contains Phosphorus and Oxygen. Manganese element makes more stronger and resistance to breaking.

Blood

Blood is the lifeline of the body. Blood carries oxygen to the cells and removes the carbon-dioxide gas which is the byproduct of combustion reaction. Oxygen is carried by blood due to the presence of iron which binds the Oxygen. Other elements which are constituents of blood are Carbon, Oxygen, Iron and Cobalt. Cobalt is essential to make red blood cells.

Respiration and Energy

Respiration is inhalation of Oxygen. Adinosine Triphosphate (ATP) is formed during respiration which is the compound used by body as energy. Main elements involved here are Carbon, Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Oxygen.

Source: c&en magazine of American Chemical Society (ACS)

Ultima Thule : Floating Snowman

NASA space craft “The New Horizons” flew past it and beamed it’s clear photo back. Ultima Thule is said to be the oldest and farthest celestial body discovered via a telescope in 2014. The picture taken by telescope was a blurry one showing the body as one oblong shaped. But new picture taken by spacecraft is very clear. It shows that Thule is made up of two ice lobes gravitating towards one another making it look like a Snowman. Picture has been taken from a distance of 27000 kilometres with a resolution of 140 metres per pixel. Thule is 4 billion miles from Sun.