What Makes Ice Cream So Good? Science!

UW Frozen Dessert Center Studies Physical Properties Of Ice Cream

When it’s piled on top of a waffle cone, in your hand on a hot summer day, ice cream seems like a simple treat.

It’s actually far from it. So much so, that the University of Wisconsin-Madison has an entire program devoted to the study of frozen desserts.

“They’ve gotta taste right, they’ve gotta melt right, they’ve gotta stand up on a piece of apple pie,” said Scott Rankin, a professor of food science at UW-Madison. “Ice cream, you may not think of it, but it’s a very, very complicated food.”

For instance, water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit. But ice cream doesn’t start freezing until far below that.

“As you and I enjoy it from our home freezer it’s usually around 5 degrees Fahrenheit. But it’s still malleable, it’s still flexible,” Rankin said. “But how can it be if water is freezing at 32 Fahrenheit?”

As Rankin explains it, ice cream freezes at a colder temperature because of freezing point depressants in the ingredients: notably, sugar.

In addition, ice cream is technically a foam. It’s dependent on the air bubbles inside it, and that affects the freezing point.

“Air has a unique functional property, it gives it a texture,” Rankin said.

Throw in thousands of different ice cream flavors, and that can complicate things even more. So at UW-Madison, in coordination with the Babcock Hall dairy plant on campus, scientists study how to manipulate the food and how to make it work properly.

The ingredients in the Babcock Ice Cream created on campus — first developed in 1951— are actually quite simple, Rankin said, mostly because of the age of the recipe. It’s cream, dry milk powder, cane sugar, a gelatin stabilizer, plus added ingredients depending on the flavor.

But the research can get specific. For instance, Ph.D. student and research assistant Dieyckson Freire studies the physical properties of melted ice cream.

She waits for it to get warm because ice cream depends on a host of structural elements to hold it up: fat clusters, air bubbles and ice crystals, for instance. But the ice crystals can get in the way of testing.

“When we study the ice cream to do the instrumental analysis, the presence of the ice crystals in the ice cream can hide or minimize some of the other structural elements,” Freire said, “Which is as important as the ice crystals in the ice cream.”

Those ice crystals are unique, because they are formed in special ice cream freezers during the manufacturing process. They look like tiny snowflakes, and they’re key to keeping ice cream solid but malleable.

Ever noticed how if you let ice cream melt, then stick it back in the freezer, it’s not the same? That’s because those ice crystals don’t come back.

“Once they are gone, you can’t recreate them in your own freezer,” Rankin said. “This is trying to put the toothpaste back in the tube, you can’t really go down that path anymore. It’s icy, it’s hard, it’s lost some of its native ice structure.”

So the next time that pint starts to melt? Just eat the whole thing, Freire said.

Source:Wisconsin Public Radio


Cure for a common turtle cancer takes a lesson from human cancers


A one-two punch can knock out a common cancer in sea turtles. Just as some human cancers are best treated first by surgical removal of the tumor and then by chemotherapy, surgery and treatment with the anticancer drug fluorouracil reduced the reoccurrence of the sometimes deadly turtle cancer fibropapilloma from 60% to 18%, researchers report today in Communications Biology.

The cancer often leads to rapidly growing tumors on the mouth, in the eyes, and on the flippers that interfer with eating, swimming, and other functions—at times so much that the animals ultimately die. Biologists in Florida first noticed the disease in green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas, pictured) more than a century ago and by the 1990s had learned it was spread by a herpeslike virus. Today, this cancer is found all over the world, particularly in warmer places.

When researchers working at a sea turtle hospital in Florida compared gene activity in tumors with gene activity in healthy green sea turtle tissue, they discovered that the tumors thrive thanks to a network of proteins that is very similar to the network of proteins that promote a human skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma. Hence, they tried anticancer drugs on the turtles.

The comparison showed that the virus itself is inactive once the tumor gets started and surprisingly, genes that control the formation of nerve cells are also very active in the cancerous tissue, they note.

Just as sunlight is a risk factor for this human skin cancer, sunlight seems to increase the chances for this the turtle disease, the researchers report. Other environmental factors, such as pollution, likely come into play as well, they note, as the tumors are rarely seen in animals living in pristine environments, even though those animals carry the virus.

The incidence of these tumors has increased 10-fold over the past decade, but the disease doesn’t seem to be making much of a dent in the green sea turtle’s recovery from near extinction. Thanks to regulations to reduce the number of turtles caught for food or trapped in fishing gear, their numbers have grown exponentially in recent years.

source: Science Magazine

Controls on seed dormancy

Seeds of the small mustard plant Arabidopsis thaliana in their pod

Herbivores and an inopportune cold snap can destroy fragile plant seedlings. Plants control the dormancy of their seeds in anticipation of more favorable growth conditions. Chen and Penfield analyzed the molecular controls on seed dormancy in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana.Two genes and an antisense RNA, known from the process of vernalization, integrate ambient temperature to control seed dormancy via their opposing configurations.


Plants integrate seasonal signals, including temperature and day length, to optimize the timing of developmental transitions. Seasonal sensing requires the activity of two proteins, FLOWERING LOCUS C (FLC) and FLOWERING LOCUS T (FT), that control certain developmental transitions in plants. During reproductive development, the mother plant uses FLC and FT to modulate progeny seed dormancy in response to temperature. We found that for regulation of seed dormancy, FLC and FT function in opposite configuration to how those same genes control time to flowering. For seed dormancy, FT regulates seed dormancy through FLC gene expression and regulates chromatin state by activating antisense FLC transcription. Thus, in Arabidopsis the same genes controlled in opposite format regulate flowering time and seed dormancy in response to the temperature changes that characterize seasons.

Source: ScienceMagazine

Bacteria in a pill may one day track your body’s chemistry

In the latest twist on an edible sensor that could one day monitor disease, scientists have created a pill-size device that can detect bleeding deep inside a pig’s digestive tract—and relay that information via a wireless signal to a cellphone. If researchers can modify the sensor to pick up other chemicals—and shrink the pill—they could one day create a multipurpose readout of gut health.

To make their sensor, engineers and biologists turned to a bacterium commonly sold as a probiotic in Europe. They genetically engineered it to detect the blood chemical heme by injecting several genes: one that triggers in the presence of heme, and another that makes the cell glow when triggered—enough to light up a detector and produce a wireless signal.

They packaged the 44 million copies of bacteria—along with a battery, light detector, and other electronics—into 10-millimeter-by-30-millimeter pills, which they fed to three pigs. Only pigs with blood in their guts triggered the sensor, the researchers report today in Science.

Other devices have already been created to detect gases in the gut and remotely control sensors using magnets. By picking up on the body’s chemicals and containing several versions of the bacterium, a “super” sensor could one day provide information about cancer, ulcers, or other conditions, the researchers notet. Such a supersensor could be a long time coming, other researchers say. For now, the team is trying to shrink this pill by two-thirds by reducing the power demands and the battery size.

Source: Science Magazine.

YSF Committee 2018/2019

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YSF Committee 2018/2019

May we proudly present the newly appointed YSF Management Team 2018/2019 (pictured above). Do show support to YSF in achieving our vision to prosper and share the love and passion for science amongst the young generation.

Please do not hesitate to approach any member of the committee if you wish to write an article/quiz or contribute ideas for our Science For Thought newsletter, or if you are interested in giving a talk. Also, we are always open to accept any suggestions or comments on improvement!

Check out more info regarding our members via PTET YSF18

50 years ago, starving tumors of oxygen proposed as weapon in cancer fight


Starve the tumor, not the cell

Animal experiments demonstrate for the first time that transplanted tumors release a chemical into the host’s bloodstream that causes the host to produce blood vessels to supply the tumor.… If such a factor can be identified in human cancers … it might be possible to prevent the vascularization of tumors. Since tumors above a certain small size require a blood supply to live, they might by this method be starved to death. — Science News, May 4, 1968


By the 1990s, starving tumors had become a focus of cancer research. Several drugs available today limit a tumor’s blood supply. But the approach can actually drive some cancer cells to proliferate, researchers have found. For those cancers, scientists have proposed treatments that open up tumors’ gnarled blood vessels, letting more oxygen through. Boosting oxygen may thwart some cancer cell defenses and promote blood flow — allowing chemotherapy drugs and immune cells deeper access to tumors.

source: Sciencenews

A message from the New YSF president 18/19

Assalamualaikum and hello all,


It is of great pleasure to present the first newsletter published by the YSF committee of 18/19. In this edition of Science For Thought, the articles revolve around the theme of Psychology – from disorders to behaviours, the articles can surely increase knowledge and awareness amongst our youth.

My utmost gratitude goes to the dedicated editorial team who have put their heart and soul into this newsletter which takes ample time to research, write, edit and finally compile such captivating articles. Our vision is to share the love for Science and motivation to write amongst PTET students, and for YSF to continue to prosper and grow in popularity in the future.

On behalf of the whole YSF committee, I would like to sincerely thank our readers who have shown support by subscribing to the mailing list. I hope you would be satisfied with the outcome and wholeheartedly enjoy reading it as much as the team has enjoyed making it. Thank you and do stay tuned to our upcoming newsletter with more interesting articles to come!

We welcome any of our readers to contribute any forms of writings, drawings or interesting news with us through email and also any feedback and suggestions that our readers would like to read about.

Thank you for supporting us.

Kind regards,
Siti Norsabrina Binti Mohammad Shafie.
President of YSF 2018

Science for Thought March/April 2018 Edition is out!

Science for thought #2 2018

Click here for the newsletter.

Greetings, fellow YSF readers! This issue of Science For Thought is brought to you by the newest team of YSF18/19. It is such an honour to be given the opportunity to take part in the creation of Science For Thought’s March/April Edition. I want to give the readers my
sincerest apologies for posting the newsletter so late in the month as we were still adjusting to the new life of 6th form and thank you very much for your patience.

As the new Chief Editor, I would like to thank my editorial team for putting in effort and working with me to produce this month’s Science For Thought issue. I would also like to
thank our seniors who helped us tremendously and also Cg Rohaini for the excellent guidance.

We welcome our readers to voice out your opinions on our newsletter and leave suggestions on how we can improve. Without further ado, we hope that you will enjoy our second edition of Science For Thought 2018.

On behalf of YSF Editorial Team

MAR/APR 2018


PTET Science for Thought newsletter utilises digital approach to journalism

Exclusive coverage by the fellas at New Brunei Daily, as part of His Majesty’s visit to PTET last month.

As part of one of the co-curricular activities organised by students of Pusat Tingatan Enam Tutong (PTET), a student committee known as the Youth Science Forum (YSF) share their innovative ideas and scientific knowledge through a series of articles published in their yearly school newsletters called ‘Science for Thought’. The newsletter takes on a greener approach to news publications, as their stories are promoted digitally on their school website.

Continue reading “PTET Science for Thought newsletter utilises digital approach to journalism”

His Majesty listens to YSF showcase

Tuesday, 20.2.2018

The New Brunei Daily (NBD) did an extensive review for the YSF as part of the visit. 

The PTET Youth Science Forum (YSF) was honoured to have been selected to present to His Majesty about our achievements over the past years. Everyone involved was awe struck by how much His Majesty wished to know more about the forums, the newsletters (going digital) as well as summary of our previous endeavours (Science Outreach with primary school students and also the annual symposiums).

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