Science: Theoretically...

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Does your fridge talk to you? A new one from Japan does: it contains sensors to warn users (or just passers-by) if food inside is in danger of going off, by using sensors linked to a chip which monitors the cooling system and the internal temperature. If it gets too hot, the pounds 2,000 fridge developed by Matsushita will tell you.

Gene of the week is CBFI - an "antifreeze" gene found in plants. By permanently turning on a gene in mustard, researchers at Michigan State University have created a plant strain that protects itself against temperatures that dip well below freezing. The work, published in Science, could lead to crops which are highly resistant to overnight cold snaps. Many plants have genes which protect against low temperatures, but these are generally not "turned on" unless there's a few days of frigid weather.

Rejoice, maths buffs on the Web. The World Wide Web Consortium, the "governing body" for the Web (well, its standard mark-up languages, anyway) is expected this week to agree to a new language called "MathML". That would mean that mathematical symbols - which in the Web's normal HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) can't be written, and have to be inserted in text as pictures - could be more easily written on Web pages. In other words, you'll be able to search for homework help on even more complicated topics (integration, LaPlace transforms) than at present.

Chemists in Arizona have developed tiny machines which do the same work as plants - generating the chemicals necessary for life from the Sun. The systems developed at Arizona State University use sunlight to "pump" hydrogen ions (protons) across a membrane which then stores them like a dam. When required, the protons are released through an enzyme, where their passage generates adenosine triphosphate (ATP) - the cellular unit of energy.

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