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Making frozen broccoli a cancer-fighting veggie

University of Illinois researchers first learned that frozen broccoli lacks the ability to form sulforaphane, the cancer-fighting compound in fresh broccoli. But a second study demonstrated how the food industry can act to restore the frozen vegetable’s health benefits.

The studies, co-authored by U of I nutrition professor Elizabeth Jeffery, are published in the Journal of Functional Foods.

As little as three to five servings of broccoli a week provides a cancer-protective benefit, but that isn’t true for bags of broccoli that you pluck out of your grocery’s freezer, she noted. The problem begins when soon-to-be-frozen broccoli is blanched – heated to high temperatures, to inactivate enzymes that can cause off-colors, tastes and aromas during the product’s 18-month shelf life. The extreme heat destroys the enzyme myrosinase, which is necessary to form sulforaphane.

In the second study, the researchers experimented with blanching broccoli at slightly lower temperatures instead of at 187 degrees Fahrenheit, the current industry standard. At 169 degrees Fahrenheit, 82 percent of the myrosinase was preserved without compromising food safety and quality.

New capacitor could up mileage for electric cars

Scientists at the National Physical Laboratory are helping create electronics capabilities for electric vehicles, with the development of a high-temperature capacitor.

Capacitors are a means of storing energy and are vital to the process of converting DC power from the vehicle battery into AC power required to drive the motor. Current capacitors are unable to function reliably under the high temperatures created in electric vehicles.

The lab’s capacitor, called HITECA, can operate close to normal efficiency at over 392 degrees Fahrenheit – significantly higher than any other capacitor on the market.

It also offers a high energy density – the measure of how much energy it can store.

The upshot for the electrical vehicle driver could mean an increased mileage range and reduced maintenance. National Physical Laboratory

Math, computation can make any scene 3D

Researchers at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences have developed a way for photographers and microscopists to create a 3D image through a single lens – without moving the camera.

This technology, published in the journal Optics Letters, relies only on computation and mathematics – no unusual hardware or fancy lenses. The effect is the equivalent of seeing a stereo image with one eye closed.

Principal investigator Kenneth Crozier and graduate student Antony Orth essentially compute how the image would look if it were taken from a different angle. To do this, they rely on the clues encoded within the rays of light entering the camera.

The key, they found, is to infer the angle of the light at each pixel.

The team’s solution is to take two images from the same camera position but focused at different depths. The slight differences between these two images provide enough information for a computer to mathematically create a brand-new image as if the camera had been moved to one side.

By combining these two images, Crozier and Orth provide a way for amateur photographers and microscopists to create the impression of a stereo image.

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