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Eggs Are Second Place

Kata Ha Jime

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SCIENTISTS have cracked one of the world's oldest riddles - which came first, the chicken or the egg?

A supercomputer gave the team from Sheffield and Warwick Universities the answer - the chicken.

Here, a leading member of the team explains how they unscrambled the age-old conundrum.


OUR discovery was a very happy accident.


The original goal of the research was to find out more about how animals make eggshell.


Society underestimates chickens and we don't realise the amazing process they perform each time they make an egg.


When you crack into your boiled egg in the morning, you are looking at one of the most amazing materials in the world.


Eggshell is incredibly strong yet very lightweight. Humans can't get close to making anything like it.


A man-made equivalent would revolutionise our time.


But the problem is we just don't know how chickens make eggshell.


They control this process in exquisite detail, yet we don't even know where to begin.


Understanding how they build eggs would begin to tell us how we can do it ourselves.


And so we turned to the UK Science Research Council's super-computer based in Edinburgh called HECToR (High End Computing Terascale Resource).


We wanted it to figure out how eggs are built, by looking at the process in microscopic detail.


First we programmed in the "ingredients" that chickens use to make egg shells. We then said: "Right, this is what chickens use - off you go and see what you can do."


This computer tinkered away on the problem for weeks and weeks.


A chicken, on the other hand, can do this pretty much overnight.


The funny thing is we weren't even originally going to use chicken eggs. We only chose them because the protein was simple to study.


It was only when we got our results back that we realised we had solved this timeless riddle. We were pretty amazed.


The results showed that a particular protein in chickens acts as a tireless builder, placing one microscopic section of shell on top of the other.


It initiates this building process before going off to start on another part of the egg.




Without this builder protein, the eggs would not exist. And yet it is only found in a chicken's ovaries. This means the bird must have come first.


But where did the chicken come from?


Some theories suggest their ancestors evolved to create hard eggs around the time of the dinosaurs.


Our finding has lots of potential.


Because eggshell is made up of many tiny crystals, we could use this information to find out how to make and destroy other crystal structures.


For example, how to permanently eliminate limescale crystals that fur up kettles and pipes.


And because our bodies use a similar method to make teeth and bones, there could also be many medical implications and we could learn more about how to rebuild human bones.


I've got a feeling this work could go off in lots of directions - many of them we probably haven't even thought of yet.


But the most immediate result is we have solved this riddle - and my email inbox has already been flooded.


I've always been a great fan of cooked breakfasts.


But I don't think I'll look at those fried eggs in quite the same way again.


Original Story - http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/featu...re-the-egg.html


Pun away.

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I always thought Chickens evolved from Dinosaurs, but seeing as Dinosaurs laid eggs, eggs would come first. Unless they specifically mean chicken eggs.

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