Scientists have finally found a way to make bread last longer—and the new method replaces chemical preservatives with ingredients sourced from plants.
From the moment that delicious loaf of crispy, hot bread leaves the oven, it interacts with microbes, fungi and yeast in the air—and a few days later, lumps of bluish-green mould appear on its surface.
That’s why packaged bread contains preservatives to extend the shelf life of the product. But Brazilian researchers have found a way to reduce the amount of chemicals put into bread while making it last longer.
Called ‘active packaging’, this alternative adds natural preservatives to the packing material instead of chemicals to the fresh bread. The compounds used in active packaging come from plants such as oregano and clove, which have natural antimicrobial properties.
The team of scientists from the University of Viscosa in Brazil have mixed plants’ essential oils with water, and a thickener derived from plant material and used them to make ‘edible films’.
The edible films are placed inside the plastic bags used to store bread, and the researchers have found that bread remains mould-free for 15 days at room temperature.
The researchers also placed small sachets with oregano essential oils into the bread packaging. In this experiment, they opened the package every five days to test their effectiveness, and found similar results.
The team explained to Business Insider that “these techniques could be used on a larger scale, on different types of bread. For example, the edible films are great for vacuum-packed food, where the sachets wouldn’t work.” Now they are applying these films to fruits, meat products, and dairy products to see if they get the same results.
Religious Children Struggle To Separate Fact From Fiction
The ability of young children to distinguish fact from fiction varies considerably with exposure to religion, two new studies have found. Children who did not attend parochial (religious) schools or church were significantly better at identifying characters in religious or fantasy stories as pretend than those who did. The studies have been published in Cognitive Science.
For the investigations, researchers enrolled 5- and 6- year old children and separated them into four groups: children who attend public school and church, children who attend public school but not church, children who attend parochial school and church and children who attend parochial school but not church.
They then exposed the children to three different types of stories- biblical (religious), fantastical (where the divine element was replaced with magic) or realistic (all supernatural elements removed). They then asked the children to judge whether the protagonist (lead character) was fictional or real.
Unsurprisingly, they found that all children judged the protagonist to be a real person in the realistic stories that described ordinary events, irrespective of religious background or schooling. However, when the children were read religious stories, such as Noah’s ark, there were significant differences in judgment. Children exposed to religion, either through school or church, decided that the characters were real, whereas secular children judged them to be fictional.
Furthermore, when the children were read fantastical stories where impossible events were either magical or non-magical (unexplained), the secular children were significantly better than religious children at identifying characters as fictional. They found that children from religious backgrounds would rely on religion in order to justify these incorrect classifications.
In sum, this study suggests that exposure to religion has a profound impact on the ability of children to discern reality from fiction, whether presented with religious ideas or fantasy stories.
The researchers acknowledge that the study design was not perfect. In particular, they recognize that it may not be exposure to religion that is causing these differences, but another variable that was not taken into account in the study. Still, the researchers believe that religion is the most likely contributing factor.
The results are in and Joko is the next president of Indonesia. Joko got 53.15% of the vote while rival Prabowo Subianto only received 46.85%. Joko was accused of electoral fraud by his rival, but after a vote recount was cleared of all doubts.
Joko, a man of the people, promised more social welfare for the poor. He is popular with the youth of Indonesia and seen as a “clean” politician. Joko was previously a furniture maker who grew up in a small village.
According to the BBC, there could still be an appeal of his victory with the final ruling happening on August 22nd.
No word on if Joko’s election win would bring metal acts to Indonesia, which itself has a burgeoning metal scene.
Stories of lead researchers stealing the work of their grad students is not uncommon, but this represents a major twist. It seems that in this case, a proud parent (and close friend of a college professor) encouraged his daughter to conduct a science fair project that was largely based on the work of that professor/friend’s graduate student. Arrington’s science fair project seems to have been inspired by the work of a grad student, Zack Jud, who published very similar results back in 2011 — work that Arrington’s father was an author on.
Since the story broke a couple of days ago it’s been picked up by numerous media outlets. The news eventually got the attention of Jud, who claims that his many years of groundbreaking work on lionfish in low salinity estuarine habitats is being completely and intentionally ignored.
Zack Jud in 2010, when he first discovered lionfish occupying estuarine habitats — three years before Arrington’s”discovery”. Via his Facebook.
"At this stage in my career, this type of national exposure would be invaluable…if only my name was included in the stories," Jud wrote on his Facebook page. “I feel like my hands are tied. Anything I say will come off as an attempt to steal a little girl’s thunder, but it’s unethical for her and her father to continue to claim the discovery of lionfish in estuaries as her own.”
Unethical, indeed. Clearly, it’s important that this scientific work — which highlights a worrisome ecological problem — receives the media attention it deserves. But it’s also important that credit be given where it’s due.
And it appears that Jud has a strong case. Here’s what Fischer Aitchtuoh from the Central Florida Aquarium Society has learned:
D. Albrey Arrington, the father of Lauren Arrington, appears as an author on this paper released June 2011. He had absolutely nothing to do with the research however, he was clearly aware that lionfish were found in low salinity parts of the estuary years before the science fair project was carried out. By this time, Jud had planned on running salinity tolerance trials for quite a while before Arrington executed her project, invalidating the premise that any related research had been ultimately replicated or expanded upon by ecologists. Jud’s work further revealed wild lionfish in salinities in as low as 8 ppt, just a hair above the young girls 6 ppt “breakthrough” in captivity.
A subsequent paper that Jud published in 2012 that documented movement patterns of lionfish within the estuary. The “discovery” was made years before the science fair project was carried out. Arrington’s project lowered the salinity bar from 8 ppt (Jud’s previous finding, which Arrington knew about) to 6 ppt. Jud subsequently demonstrated that lionfish could survive in salinities as low as 5 ppt for extended periods of time, and as low as 1 ppt for brief periods (in the wild, around low tide during the wet season).
Frustratingly, there’s actually a petition going around demanding that Arrington’s name be added as an author to Jud’s most recent scientific publication.
Jud is now trying to figure out what to do about the situation without doing anything to discourage the girl.
"Most of you are aware of the massive amount of time I put into exposing kids to science, and I obviously don’t want to do anything to diminish this young lady’s curiosity or enthusiasm," he writes. "I’m thrilled that she chose to look at lionfish for her science fair project, but encouraging an outright lie is poor parenting and a horrible way to introduce a youngster to a career in the sciences."
Hundreds of photovoltaic panels will cover this 12-storey high floating solar farm, which also has hydro turbines to produce energy at night. According to Matt Hickman at Mother Nature Network, Energy Duck is also a reminder of “how climate change has adversely impacted the breeding habitats of the common elder duck, a large sea duck found in the northern coasts of Europe and North America.”
Image: Land Art Generator Initiative
The ‘duck’ will be constructed from a lightweight steel frame and will be installed at Refshaleøen, a former industrial site that’s across Copenhagen Harbour’s most famous public art statue—The Little Mermaid.
Energy Duck has been designed to transmit all the energy it produced to Copenhagen’s public grid. According to Gizmag’s Bridget Borgobello, “the giant structure has been designed not only to generate clean electricity for the local residents of Copenhagen, but also to provide a unique visitor centre”.
Gaza conflict: Five dead at hospital hit by Israeli strike
At least five people have been killed and 70 injured by an Israeli strike on a hospital in Gaza, Palestinians say.
The Israeli military said it had targeted a cache of anti-tank missiles in the hospital’s “immediate vicinity”.
Overnight, more than 30 members of two Palestinian families died in Israeli strikes, Gazan health officials said.
On Monday evening Israel said seven of its soldiers had been killed in the past 24 hours, bringing the number of Israeli military dead to 25.
Two Israeli civilians have also died in the recent violence.
The Palestinian death toll from the two-week conflict has now passed 550, the majority of them civilians, according to Gaza’s health ministry. The UN says more than 100,000 Gazans have now been displaced.
Israel says it has killed more than 170 militants since Thursday night, when it launched the ground offensive phase of its two-week old operation to end rocket fire from Gaza.
Ten militants were killed on Monday after using tunnels to get into Israel near the town of Sderot.
Push for ceasefire
Palestinian television showed footage of wounded people being treated after the strike at the Al-Aqsa Hospital in Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip.
Doctors say several Israeli tank shells hit the hospital’s reception, intensive care unit and operating theatres.
Most of the wounded were doctors, according to Palestinian officials.
Appeals have been made to the Red Cross to help evacuate patients from the building, the BBC’s Yolande Knell reports from Gaza.
Israel had told residents of neighbouring areas to head to Deir al-Balah for their own safety as its ground offensive continues to target neighbourhoods to the east of Gaza City for a second day, our correspondent adds.
The Israeli army said it had “successfully targeted” a cache of anti-tank missiles in the area.
"Civilian casualties are a tragic inevitability of [Hamas’] brutal and systematic exploitation of homes, hospitals and mosques in Gaza," it said in a statement.
Israel says that approximately 131 rockets and mortars were fired at Israel on Monday, of which at least 108 hit Israel and 17 were intercepted. No casualties were reported from these attacks.