TIME Chemistry

Scientists’ Finding May Help Restore Fragrance to Roses

Sweet Smell of Roses
Matt Rourke—AP This file photo shows roses during preparations for the Philadelphia Flower Show at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia

A study of roses that do have a strong scent revealed a previously unknown chemical process in their petals

(NEW YORK) — Shakespeare said a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. In fact, many kinds of roses today have little fragrance. But a new discovery might change that.

A study of roses that do have a strong scent revealed a previously unknown chemical process in their petals. It’s key to their alluring odor.

Experts said the finding might let scientists restore a pleasing scent to rose varieties that have lost it because of breeding for traits like color or longevity.

French scientists identified a gene that’s far more active in a heavily scented kind of rose than in a type with little odor. This gene, which produces an enzyme, revealed the odor-producing process.

Results are reported in a study released Thursday by the journal Science.

TIME Innovation

Futuristic 3-D Printing Technology ‘Grows’ Objects From Liquid

The technology is apparently inspired by Terminator 2

A groundbreaking 3-D printing technology created by the Silicon Valley startup Carbon3D Inc. manipulates light and oxygen to allow for solid objects to rise continuously from a liquid printing basin.

The technology, called CLIP (Continuous Liquid Interface Production), is a departure from the traditional layer-by-layer method of 3-D printing and the result is a printing process that is 25 to 100 times faster than previously possible, according to a press release.

“Current 3-D printing technology has failed to deliver on its promise to revolutionize manufacturing,” said Carbon3D CEO Joseph M. DeSimone.

The process works by beaming light through an oxygen-permeable window (think of a contact lens) into a liquid resin. Controlled by software, images of the 3-D model are projected into the resin pool, where the UV light begins the hardening process and the Oxygen slows it down. Through careful manipulation, complex shapes can be formed.

The potential use of the technology could range from personalized medical stents to made-to-order athletic apparel.

The drawback, according to the BBC, is that the process only works with polymer-based materials. So unlike the apparent inspiration for the project, the scene in Terminator 2 when the T-1000 robot rises from a pool of metal, the technology cannot produce anything metallic.

TIME Chemistry

The Chemist Who Helped Develop the Pill Has Died

Carl Djerassi
Boris Roessler—AP Scientist and patron of the arts Carl Djerassi sits during an interview with the DPA German Press Agency at the university in Frankfurt Main, Germany, 29 October 2013.

His scientific work led to the world's first oral contraceptive in 1952

Carl Djerassi, a 91-year-old Stanford chemist who helped to develop the birth control pill, passed away from cancer Friday in San Francisco.

Djerassi’s scientific work led to the world’s first oral contraceptive in 1952, which gave women the option to control pregnancies. He developed a synthetic molecule called norethindrone, the effects of which simulated, in stronger form, those of progesterone. For his work, he earned an induction into the National Inventors Hall of Fame and received the presidential National Medal of Science, which only a few hundred scientists have received since its creation.

“Carl was interested particularly in individual freedom and self-determination, and believed that all of us, women included, should have that opportunity,” said Dr. Philip Darney, the director of UCSF’s Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health. “He saw birth control and access to abortion as agents of that opportunity.”

Djerassi, a polymath, penned three biographies The Pill, Pygmy Chimps and Degas’ Horse, In Retrospect: From the Pill to the Pen and This Man’s Pill, and founded a free art residency program called the Djerassi Resident Artists Program, funded by earnings from the birth control pill.

[SF Gate]

TIME Physics

Watch Droplets Bounce Off Amazing New Water-Repellent Metal

The laser-etched material is more effective than traditional hydrophobic chemical coatings.

Scientists have used lasers to create a water-repelling metal surface that acts like a trampoline for water droplets.

Researchers at the University of Rochester, who published an article in the Journal of Applied Physics this week, used lasers to etch micro- and nanoscale structures into a metal surface that make it almost completely water-repellent, or hydrophobic.

The material could have a transformative impact on everything from aviation to sanitation, Chunlei Guo, a professor of optics and co-author of the study said in a press release and accompanying explanatory video. Airplane surfaces, for example, could use the material to repel water and prevent surface freezing.

The metal surface is more effective than traditional chemical-based surfaces like Teflon and, because it’s a structural alteration, doesn’t wear off.

“The material is so strongly water-repellent, the water actually gets bounced off,” Guo said in a statement. “Then it lands on the surface again, gets bounced off again, and then it will just roll off from the surface.”

 

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: November 20

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. Hacking out of prison: San Quentin inmates are learning to code.

By Charley Locke in EdSurge

2. Your breath could reveal a fake: How a beetle’s camouflage trick might make money harder to counterfeit.

By James Urquhart in Chemistry World

3. Russia has learned there’s a great deal it can get away with in Ukraine.

By Amy Knight in the New York Review of Books

4. Protected areas like wetlands and coral reefs are at highest risk from climate change but can also be part of the solution.

By Adam Markham at the Union of Concerned Scientists

5. A U.S. deal with Iran could reset the Mideast balance of power.

By Patrick Smith in the Fiscal Times

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Biology

See 40 Mind-Blowing Images Captured Through a Microscope

In stunning detail not visible to the human eye, the winning entrants in Nikon's Small World photography competition will give you a fresh view of the world

TIME discoveries

How Garbage Kickstarted the Modern Chemical Industry

Accident leads to breakthrough

Throughout the history of science, some of the most important breakthroughs have come about through happy accidents. This certainly bears true in the video above, courtesy of the American Chemical Society, which explains how garbage kicked off the entire chemical industry.

TIME Food & Drink

Why Does Pizza Taste So Delicious? Allow Science to Explain

A look at the chemical reactions that lead to that magical, magical taste

A few months back, an intrepid team of scientists declared that mozzarella is the best cheese for pizza because it melts, bubbles and browns better than any other varieties. Now, some other scientists from the American Chemical Society have taken an even closer look at the chemistry of everybody’s favorite cheesy food with this new video, part of the organization’s Reactions series.

“Whether it’s a plain cheese, a deep-dish stacked with meats or a thin-crust veggie delight, there’s just something about pizza that makes it delicious,” the video description explains. “There’s a lot of chemistry that goes into everything from dough to sauce to toppings to, of course, cheese.”

In particular, as the video explains, there’s something called the Maillard Reaction at work — and that’s what we all have to thank for the magical taste we encounter in every bite.

TIME Science

These Amazing Chemical Reactions Will Show You the True Beauty of Science

This incredible video depicts the mystical wonders of chemistry

lost-at-e-minor_logo

This article originally appeared on Lost at E Minor.

Even if chemistry isn’t your thing, and even if you fell asleep in almost every chemistry class, you’re sure to appreciate just how incredible science really is by watching this Beautiful Chemistry video. The video is a new collaboration between Tsinghua University Press and University of Science and Technology of China that make chemistry more interesting (and awesome) for the general public.

The first project of the collaboration used a 4K UltraHD camera to capture chemical reactions without the distraction of beakers and test tubes. So what you’re seeing is a chemical reaction in its finest form. And how fine it is!

(via Colossal)

TIME Chemistry

Octopus Skin Has Inspired a New Type of Camouflage Sheet

It can only switch from black to transparent and back again, but that's a start

Scientists have developed a color-changing device inspired by octopuses and their natural camouflaging techniques.

The research, carried out at the University of Houston and University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, looked at how the skins of octopuses, squid and cuttlefish can change color so rapidly. From there, researchers were able to design a heat-sensitive sheet that quickly changes color when detecting light.

At room temperature the flexible sheet is black. Once the device’s top layer, which contains a heat-sensitive dye, detects light it becomes transparent. True, this is hardly a rainbow of hues, but scientists believe it is the first step to developing a camouflage material for human use.

“[The device] is by no means a deployable camouflage system but it’s a pretty good starting point,” said a lead researcher, John Rogers of the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, to National Geographic.

Popular Mechanics broke down the layers of the new device as follows:

The top layer of the new device is loaded with a temperature-sensitive dye that appears black at low temperatures and clear at temps above 116 degrees F. This dye-filled layer sits on top of a layer of white reflective silver tiles, an ultra-thin layer of silicon circuits that control the dye’s temperature, and a transparent silicone rubber foundation. All together, this stack measures less than 200 microns thick. (The average human hair is 100 microns wide.)

Underneath this flexible sandwich is a base layer containing an array of light-sensing photodetectors. The corners of each dye-filled pixel and silver tile above this photoreceptor layer are notched, creating gaps that are like holes in a mask, allowing light to get through to the photoreceptors so they know how and when to change color. This adaptive camouflage system can respond to changing patterns of illumination within just one to two seconds.

[National Geographic]

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