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Today's final post in the series will be on the science behind Santa's sleigh. Scientists at the North Carolina State University have analyzed and researched how Santa is using the latest scientific resources and technologies on his sleigh (that aren't scientifically available to us yet) to deliver everyone's Christmas presents. To deliver all the presents on time Santa's sleigh has to be a million times more advanced than any modern form of air transportation . The truss of the sleigh, including the runners, are made of a honeycombed titanium alloy that is very lightweight and 10 to 20 times stronger than anything that exists or that's being worked on in labs today. But it  doesn't  just stop there....  The truss can also morph, changing its shape slightly to improve its aerodynamics – allowing it to cut through the air more efficiently. The runners on the sleigh, for example, are a little bit flexible; this allows the runners to be tucked in


It's the day before Christmas eve, so Christmas preparations are well under way. Who will be making homemade eggnog this holiday season? And will you be "spiking" it? If you will, beware of the risk of salmonella in raw eggs.  With a statistic of 1/20000 eggs is contaminated with salmonella bacteria drinking homemade eggnog can be a bit of a hefty risk. Scientists at Rockefeller University conducted an experiment on eggnog and spiked eggnog (with alcohol added to it =  20 percent rum and bourbon) to compare the  bacteria found in homemade alcoholic eggnog with those found in store-bought nonalcoholic eggnog. After culturing samples of both solutions and incubating them for 24 hours at 37 degrees Celsius (body temperature), The researchers found that while the store-bought product was brimming with a variety of bacteria, the homemade version was completely sterile. “The bacteria we observed in the grocery-store product are likely harmless normal bacteria that


Today's post is based around candy canes - but not candy canes exactly, more like Christmas sweets including licorice. Scientists have found that a novel molecule extracted from licorice root has the ability to stop some cancers immediately, according to a collaborative research study conducted at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.  Mohamed Rafi, assistant professor in the department of food science at Rutgers' Cook College, discovered the new molecule, ß-hydroxy-DHP (BHP), in common dietary supplements made from licorice root, a natural remedy with curative powers which have gone down in history. Rafi tested the compound in the laboratory on tissues taken from prostate and breast cancer tumors. The small and very specific molecule BHP  belongs to a class of organic chemicals known as polyphenols that include potential anticancer compounds found in green tea and wine; its main target is cancer cells. It works by deactivating a protein associated with t


Today's post will be on walnuts. Walnuts also constitute a part of the Christmas platter and they're also good for you. Most of the health benefits of walnuts are known already but scientists have found one more to add to the list: lowering of diabetes and heart disease risk in "at-risk" patients.  The research was published in the  Journal of the American College of Nutrition , the Official Publication of the American College of Nutrition, and a publication from Routledge. For the study, a sample of 46 adults aged 30-75 were selected. Participants had a Body Mass Index larger than 25, and a waist circumference exceeding 40 inches for men and 35 inches for women. They were also required to be non-smokers, and all exhibited one or more additional risk factors for metabolic syndrome, a precursor of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The group was randomly assigned to two 8-week sequences of either a walnut-enriched ad libitum diet or an ad libitum diet


Every year baubles get more innovative from your typical gold and sliver baubles to solar system themed baubles and finally gold and silver nano-baubles. The nano-baubles produced by researchers, in Mexico and the US, are about 100 million times smaller than the typical baubles which are used to decorate Christmas trees. The research was published December 2010 i ssue of the  International Journal of Nanoparticles , where the  scientists  reported the formation of various sliver, gold and bimetallic nanoparticles which are only 25 nanometres in diameter.  They  utilized  vitamin C (a.k.a ascorbic acid) and a soap like antiseptic which is usually used in high-end cosmetics. The reaction of silver nitrate and the  gold compound chloroauric acid under these conditions led to successive reduction of the metals and the formation of different silver, gold and bimetallic nanoparticles. The precise structures of the nanoparticles were revealed using a high-resolution elemental mapp


Citrus fruits (including oranges, clementines, satsumas, lemons and limes) are best in season around Christmas time. But citrus fruits are not only delicious but they've also been proven to lower women's stroke risk,  especially oranges and grapefruit, may lower ischemic stroke risk.  The research published in the journal  Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association l ooked at how  consuming flavones subclasses affects the risk of stroke. Flavonoids are a class of compounds present in fruits, vegetables, dark chocolate and red wine.  Women who ate high amounts of the flavonoids had a 19 percent lower risk of ischemic stroke than women who consumed the least amount. Within their experiment, the  flavanones came mainly from oranges and orange juice (82 percent) and grapefruit and grapefruit juice (14 percent). However, researchers recommended that consumers increase their citrus fruit intake, rather than juice, due to the high sugar content of commercial fruit juic


Working through the Christmas platter, today's post will be on cranberries. Scientists have been researching the antibiotic properties of cranberries. Particularly, they a re shedding light on the biological mechanisms by which cranberries may have protective properties against urinary tract and other infections. In 2011, a study was published in the journal  Food Science and Biotechnology, where they   tested proanthocyanidins (a.k.a PACs), a group of flavonoids which are found in cranberries. These molecules are thought to give cranberry juice its infection-fighting properties and prevent precursors of bacterial infections. But the scientific report actually showed that cranberry juice, itself, is far better at preventing biofilm formation, which is the precursor of infection, than PACs alone. Camesano's lab explores the mechanisms that the virulent form of E. coli bacteria, the primary cause of most urinary tract infections (UTIs) in people, uses to form biofilm


With Christmas being next week everyone will be buying their groceries for Christmas dinner, and Brussels sprouts are bound to be on some of your shopping lists - but they may not be your kids favourite veggies and here's why... Scientists have published new research in the  open access journal  BMC Neuroscience . They've compared how domestic cats and humans  perceive bitterness in food at a molecular level, and could explain why cats and children are sometimes such picky eaters. It's thought that the ability to  detect bitter chemicals is thought to have evolved because of its utility in avoiding toxic compounds often found in plants.  Cats are carnivores by nature so they don't consume a lot of plant-derived products; domestic cats, though, still come across bitter flavours in foods and medicines.  The researchers at AFB International and Integral Molecular studied the behavior of two different cat bitter taste receptors in cell-based experiments, inv


Yesterday's post looked at Myrrh as a form of herbal remedy for high cholesterol levels in the body. Today's post moves onto frankincense which has also been found to have useful properties. Cardiff university (Wales, UK) scientists have been researching  the potential benefits of frankincense to help relieve and alleviate the symptoms of arthritis (this research was published in 2011). Scientists at Cardiff university have devised a treatment using a rare form of frankincense,  Boswellia frereana, which  i nhibits the production of key inflammatory molecules which helps prevent the breakdown of the cartilage tissue which causes the condition. The scientists commented on their results saying:  "Having done  this  we are now able to further  characterize  the chemical entity and compare its success against other anti-inflammatory drugs used for treating the condition." The hunt for new drugs to cure the symptoms of conditions like inflammatory arthritis and


The fragrant myrrh of the Christmas story is the topic of today's Christmas post. Research published in 2009 has shown that myrrh may have  cholesterol-lowering properties. The journal published in the  International Journal of Food Safety, Nutrition and Public Health  discusses the hypocholesterolemic effects of myrrh and other plant products. Myrrh already has been known to have many health benefits including  antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects.   And this new research has shown that there are potential cholesterol-lowering effects.  Previously myrrh has been used in a wide range of traditional remedies over the centuries as a mouthwash, for treating sore  throats , bronchial congestion, as well as an antiseptic astringent, for soothing cuts and burns, and it was historically known to calm emotions.  Working with lab rodents, Nadia Al-Amoudi tested  various blends of plant materials, including Myrrh, on laboratory rodents with high cholesterol. She fed the an