Erosion of tooth enamel is also caused by flavored water and sweeteners

Sweeteners can cause exogenous erosion of dental enamel according to a new study that appeared in the International Journal of Environment and Health.

The study looked in particular at aromatized mineral waters that more and more people are drinking instead of sugary drinks. However, even flavored mineral waters contain sugary solutions and the fact that they give the sensation of bringing less damage can already intrinsically lead to greater consumption.

According to this study, switching to sugar substitutes may not be the solution to the problem of tooth enamel erosion. The study was conducted by Anna Lewandowska and Marzena Joanna Kuras of the Warsaw University of Medicine. The two researchers examined various flavored mineral waters sold in Poland, analyzing the pH, acidity and phosphorus concentration levels.

Using solutions of xylitol, erythritol, stevia and glucose-fructose, the two researchers have understood the effects that sweeteners in these drinks can have in the laboratory on tooth enamel.
Analyzing in particular the phosphorus released by the hydroxyapatite, the two researchers realized that both the aromatized mineral water and the sweeteners tested in the laboratory caused erosion of the tooth enamel and this erosion potential was similar to that of glucose syrup- fructose.

It follows, according to the two researchers, that “the replacement of glucose-fructose syrup with another sweetener has no beneficial effect on exogenous erosion.”

Terraforming Mars could be achieved with silica areogel shields

The Martian climate could perhaps be made livable by processes that make its atmosphere more similar to that of the Earth. We are talking about the so-called “terraformation,” a process that was actually taken into consideration only in science fiction.

A new study, conducted by researchers from the University of Harvard, the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the University of Edinburgh, gives new hope to the possibility that such a process can actually be implemented. According to the researchers, instead of changing the climate and environmental conditions of the entire planet, a terraforming process could be carried out on a local or regional level.

Circumscribed regions of the surface of the red planet, according to the researchers, could in fact be made habitable with the use of a special material, the silica airgel. One of the effects that this material seems to produce is similar to what we have on Earth in relation to the climate: the greenhouse effect. This material is one of the most insulating ones ever created. It is also 97% porous, which allows a good part of the light not to cross it. Already today it is used in various technological applications such as those implemented for the Mars rovers built by NASA.

Through the use of a screen of silica areogels with a thickness of 2-3 cm, it could be possible to carry out photosynthesis by blocking the dangerous ultraviolet radiation and making sure that the temperatures inside these “greenhouses” can be lowered until the water can become liquid. In essence, only the heat of the sun and no other energy source would be exploited: these are passive materials that do not even require too much maintenance.

According to Robin Wordsworth, a researcher at the John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard and one of the authors of the study, it is a “regional” approach that could make Mars habitable.

Furthermore, such a method would need materials and technologies that we already possess.

In this way, small and circumscribed “islands” could be created, something that could then make the whole planet or a large part of it habitable in a controlled and scalable way.

New device collects energy from the knee

The sector of devices that are powered by energy collected from body movement is always active and new research, this time published in Applied Physics Letters, proves it.

Researchers at the University of Hong Kong have developed a device that can be attached to the knee and can collect up to 1.6 microwatts of power simply by using the movement of the knee itself while walking. It is a light device (it weighs only 307 grams) and therefore the user does not have to make any effort but simply perform the walk. According to the researchers themselves, the energy collected is sufficient to supply small-scale electronic devices such as health monitoring devices or GPS trackers.

The first thought goes to all those people who have to cross dangerous areas that lack phone coverage, for example explorers, mountaineers, trekkers and the like.

The researchers used a “smart” macrofibre material that basically generates some energy from any movement, even a bend, to which it is subjected.

Every time the knee flexes, so at every step, the device uses the biomechanical energy to feed itself.

The area of ​​the knee chosen by the researchers is no coincidence: this ligament is one of those that develops the most articulatory movement ever and that can therefore be better exploited in this sense.

Grasshoppers, crickets and silkworms are excellent sources of antioxidants for humans

After testing various commercial edible insects and invertebrates, a group of researchers came to the conclusion that crickets can boast 75% of the antioxidant power of fresh orange juice while the fat in the silkworm boasts a comparable antioxidant power to twice that of olive oil.

This is the comforting data that emphasizes even more how edible insects and arthropods can represent a solution to world hunger or can still lead to a lower level of exploitation of fields for cultivation. According to Mauro Serafini, who is the main author of the study published in Frontiers in Nutrition, there are already 2 billion people in the world who regularly eat insects but “the rest of us will need more encouragement.”

The researcher naturally refers in particular to western populations, substantially those in Europe and North America, for which insects and other “strange” arthropods do not represent a habit in the diet. The researchers found that the highest values ​​of antioxidant capacity were present in the water-soluble extracts of grasshoppers, silkworms and crickets. Negligible values ​​were instead represented by extracts of cicadas, aquatic insects, black tarantulas and black scorpions.

However, the antioxidant capacities of insects also depend on compounds that are still unknown, as Serafini himself underlines, since the quantity of polyphenols present in the body of insects is in any case much smaller than that present in orange juice. And the scientist predicts that, in the future, we can also modify the dietary regimes of the insects raised to increase or in any case change the level and quality of antioxidants for human beings for the better.

This is how mosquitoes track their victims

A group of researchers has seen fit to analyze the brain of female mosquitoes (only the latter feed on blood) when they choose their victim to suck the blood. Scientists at the University of Washington have discovered that mosquitoes use both the visual and olfactory systems to identify and track potential victims.

The mosquito chooses its victim by detecting some chemical signals and this had already been discovered previously. However, the ways in which these signals are processed in the brain and lead to the final decision were not known, at least until the study published today in Current Biology. First, the olfactory system detects the chemical signals of carbon dioxide coming from the potential victim and this causes changes in the brain of the mosquitoes. The intercepted carbon dioxide is essentially what we breathe out, an emission that mosquitoes can intercept even from a distance of more than 30 meters to locate the victim’s position and approach it.

After this first phase, the mosquitoes change their behavior and begin to use the visual system. With the latter they scrutinize the surroundings to delineate the forms of the guest and to decide to fly towards them. The researchers measured how carbon dioxide triggers these processes in the brain and modifies the flight behavior of mosquitoes.

With special equipment including an optical sensor to collect data related to the flapping of insect wings, the researchers have in fact tested the behavioral modalities of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes when they have to choose the victim. They discovered that even a small puff of air containing 5% of carbon dioxide could push a mosquito to turn towards the victim to visually locate it.