Food, Pizza

How to make a better pizza

Food scientists at the University of Maryland are working on ways to make pizza healthier to eat.
Jeffrey Moore, a doctoral student, says baking whole-wheat crust at higher temperatures, and for longer periods, can increase the antioxidants in the crust. So can letting the dough rise longer.
Diets rich in antioxidants — which are found in many fruits and vegetables — may help to protect against heart disease and cancer.
Mr. Moore experimented only with whole-wheat pizza because most of the antioxidants found in wheat are largely removed in refined flour. He says his findings are good news for fans of deep-dish pizza, since it takes longer to cook.

Shaping Earth’s surface

Geologists say they have found evidence that plate tectonics were shaping the face of the Earth 3.8 billion years ago. That’s two billion years earlier than previously suggested.
Earth scientists have long puzzled over when plate tectonics began, and wondered if the younger, hotter Earth was much different than it is today.
A team of geologists stumbled on a crucial piece of evidence by accident during a field trip in Greenland. They were looking for signs of early life in a 12-kilometre-long stretch of rock that dates back to the planet’s adolescence. Instead, they found a hunk of the Earth’s crust that had once been part of the ocean floor. It was formed when molten rock bubbled up at a mid-ocean ridge, filling the gap between two separating plates.

Deep dish of Pizza
Deep dish of Pizza

That is what happens today. Ocean floors are continually moving. They spread from the centre, and sink at the edges, under the crustal plates that cover the planet’s surface.
“We were able to show signs that the sea floor was spreading, so there must have been plate tectonics,” says the University of Alberta’s Karlis Muehlenbachs, who analyzed the rock in his lab and was part of the team that reported its discovery in the journal Science.

Bug-proof wine?

The next time you sip a glass of wine, see if you can taste a hint of ladybug. The colourful insects produce a foul-smelling liquid that can add unwanted aroma and flavour to wine if too many bugs are harvested along with the grapes.
But Jacek Koziel, a chemist at Iowa State University, and his colleagues are coming to the rescue of winemakers worried about “ladybug taint.” They have identified four smelly compounds produced by one common species of ladybug — the first step, they say, toward new ways to detect and eliminate them in wine.
The odiferous chemicals are called methoxypyrazines, which can smell like green peppers and either rancid or roasted peanuts, depending on your taste. Ladybugs produce the chemicals to deter predators.

They smell a rat

Female rats avoid potential mates whose great-grandfathers were exposed to a potent fungicide. They can somehow sense that something is wrong, says Andrea Gore, a professor of pharmacology and toxicology at the University of Texas at Austin.
The fungicide, called vinclozolin, doesn’t cause genetic mutations in rats, but Dr. Gore says it changes how their genes work — which ones get switched on or off, and how much of a protein they produce. These so-called epigenetic changes lead to cancer and kidney disease in males and are passed from generation to generation.
When females are given a choice, they prefer males whose great-grandfathers were not exposed to the fungicide. “Even across generations, your attractiveness as a mate is decreased if your great-grandfather has been exposed to environmental chemicals,” Dr. Gore says.
Researchers are only beginning to understand epigenetics — the system that turns genes on and off. Some scientists argue that pesticides and other chemicals should be screened for the kind of effects vinclozolin had on male rats.

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