Gluten intolerance can affect around one per hundred of the general population, and this can cause problems when eating any wheat based food product. Flour is made into many things ranging from bread, pasta, and cakes. Having an intolerance to gluten means that eating any wheat products causes inflammation of the digestive system which results in pain. Many products have come to market which replace the wheat with other ingredients. The outcomes are never the same as traditional wheat products, but over time their quality has improved.
Now though, science is looking for an answer. It's still not known what causes gluten intolerance and Celiac disease but a team of genetic researchers from Spain's Institute for Sustainable Agriculture have managed to take another approach. It has been identified that it is molecules known as gliadins which are present in gluten that are the root of the issue. Using a specialist gene splicing technique called CRISPR, so far 35 of the 45 genes for gliadins have been successfully removed. These genetic experimental wheat plants have yielded bread, which in theory would greatly reduce the affect of gluten on Celiac sufferers.
The work is not yet complete, with another ten genes to be found and removed, it could be a while before totally safe gluten can be sold. Once more, before human consumption is permitted, several tests must be explored to guarantee its suitability to be eaten. It may seem like a long way around to get next-door, but every possibility needs to be fully assessed. How do you feel about genetically modified food? Many people have a natural aversion towards anything that has been tampered with, however if the natural aversion is towards something we can remove, would you have it done? Once more the GM crops debate can rage over the pros and cons of this new technology, however for many people with Celiac disease, bread and butter may not be so far away.
The asteroid belt lies between Mars and Jupiter in our solar system. It is made up of a large collection of varying sized space rocks which orbit the Sun like the planets do. It is thought that the gravity of Jupiter, with a whopping diameter of 138,346.5 Km, was enough to prevent the rocks from coalescing into a world much like Mars or the Earth. Or maybe there was once a planet there, only to be destroyed by a major collision. Jupiter again would be a culprit in this scenario, as its large gravity is also capable of slingshotting huge objects at great speeds in all directions.
In an effort to further understand this mysterious outback, between us rocky worlds and the large gas and ice giants which lay beyond, several missions to the asteroid belt have been planned. One recent unveiling is that of a team of researchers from the Finnish Meteorological Institute and a handful of European Universities, in which fifty nano-probes will tour 300 of these asteroids and conduct experiments to determine their constituent materials and other information like density and mass.
Finding a way of increasing the efficiency of space-faring projects is essential. This network of fifty probes will use a solar sail to find its way to the asteroid belt, the 20km sail will be electronically charged so that when ions from the Sun interact with them, it creates a further repulsion force on top of the pressure from rays of light. These tiny-satellites are to weigh only around 5Kg each, condensing all the modern technology into space-age versions of the smartphone for long distance travel.
The fleet would solve many issues raised with other missions to the asteroid belt, cost being a major factor. Down-sizing and extending the range at the same time seems to be the ideal option when considering what we need to know. The main interest in these objects would be the valuable rare minerals and metals that maybe within them. Many elements have unique uses on Earth, which are also rare and will not last forever. Knowing where to go to get some more will be valuable information for everyone concerned.
Read the scientific outline of the mission here.
A fascinating piece of cultural heritage has emerged from the vaults and been placed online. The Cotton MS Vitellius C III is not a fancy new font with Office 365, but an antique book of herbal lore. The pages have been damaged, due to fire in 1731, but much of the content remains legible. It contains a difficult to read but not illegible script, written by hand, alongside some elaborate and remarkable illustrations.
You may have trouble reading the contents though, as it is written in Old English and dates back to over one thousand years. Only scholars can truly decipher the words into modern tongue, and it is sure that there will be plenty online who can't wait to get their dictionaries around this oldest surviving document of its kind in the world.
Feast your eyes on the digital upload of this significant and charming manuscript.
Rowan Blair Colver for Alternative Fruit
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