People with home-brewed beer rigs and backyard distilleries already know how to employ yeast to convert sugar into alcohol. - they soon might be able to turn sugar-fed yeast into a microbial factory for producing morphine and potentially other drugs, including antibiotics and anti-cancer therapeutics. 

It might be the age of home-brewed pharmaceuticals, DIY Bio taken to the next level.

Sometimes one food fallacy can conflict with another, and so you must choose - if you like paying over 240 percent more for a gluten-free label and 200 percent more for a probiotics label, you may have to pick between them. 

A new metal matrix composite that is so light that it can float on water, so a boat made of it would not sink despite damage to its structure - and this syntactic foam has good heat resistance too.

Syntactic foams have been around for many years but this is the first lightweight metal matrix syntactic foam, say the researchers from Deep Springs Technology (DST) and the New York University Polytechnic School of Engineering.

Their magnesium alloy matrix composite is reinforced with silicon carbide hollow particles and has a density of only 0.92 grams per cubic centimeter compared to 1.0 g/cc of water. Not only does it have a density lower than that of water, it is strong enough to withstand the rigorous conditions faced in the marine environment.

The epidermis of the coffee bean, known as coffee silverskin, is usually removed after the beans have been dried, and of course used coffee grounds are normally discarded unless people use them in their garden or as an abrasive cleaning product.

It might be time to reconsider putting them in a landfill, according to a study from the University of Granada which set out to see what other value they might have. They found that the antioxidant effects of these coffee grounds are 500 times greater than those found in vitamin C and could be employed to create functional foods with significant health benefits. 

Credit: UGR Divulga
Carbohydrates, commonly known as sugars, are complex biological molecules linked to many fundamental cellular processes in living organisms, so accurate scientific information is important, but new research by scientists at the University of York Structural Biology Laboratory reveals that much of the deposited data on carbohydrate structures may be flawed.

We have all seen "fat bloom", that unwelcome white layer that occasionally forms on chocolate. It is harmless but Europe once banned ugly fruit so cosmetics are clearly important to them and for that reason Nestlé and the Hamburg University of Technology got the DESY synchrotron's high brilliance X-ray source PETRA III on the case.

A common black fungus, Aspergillus carbonarius ITEM 5010, found in decaying leaves, soil and rotting fruit has been used to to create hydrocarbons, the chief component of petroleum, similar to those in aviation fuels. The fungus produced the most hydrocarbons on a diet of oatmeal but also created them by eating wheat straw or the non-edible leftovers from corn production.

Fungi have been of interest for about a decade within biofuels production as the key producer of enzymes necessary for converting biomass to sugars. Some researchers showed that fungi could create hydrocarbons, but the research was limited to a specific fungus living within a specific tree in the rainforest, and the actual hydrocarbon concentrations were not reported.

Lisa Marie Potter, Inside Science -- Skin has to be flexible enough to jump, crawl, and kick with us.

It also has to be resilient enough to withstand our falls, scrapes, and cuts. Scientists have marveled at skin's strength for years without knowing why it's so durable.

Now, scientists have identified the mechanical properties that give skin its toughness. Their findings are the first to show that collagen, the most abundant protein in skin, moves to absorb stress and prevent the skin from tearing. In the future, this knowledge could help us use nature's blueprint to make better synthetic skin and improve the strength of man-made materials.

By Sara Rennekamp, Inside Science - Is your wine vegan? It seems like an odd question: wine is made of grapes, grapes fall solidly under the "not an animal product" label, therefore it would seem that wine is a vegan-friendly beverage.

However, many people who adhere to a vegan diet refrain from consuming any food or drink that is processed using animal products as well as the animal products themselves. Unfortunately for vegans, some wines are processed using animal products.

The culprit: a process called fining.

Hot vents on the seabed could have spontaneously produced the organic molecules necessary for life, according to a model which shows how the surfaces of mineral particles inside hydrothermal vents have similar chemical properties to enzymes, the biological molecules that govern chemical reactions in living organisms.

This means that vents are able to create simple carbon-based molecules, such as methanol and formic acid, out of the dissolved CO2 in the water. This would explain how some of the key building blocks for organic chemistry were already being formed in nature before life emerged - and may have played a role in the emergence of the first life forms.