full transcript

From the Ted Talk by Eleanor Nelsen: How to unboil an egg

Unscramble the Blue Letters

It's so obuoivs that it's practically proverbial. You can't unboil an egg. Well, it turns out you can, sort of. What tmerahl eegnry does to the eggs' meloluecs, mechanical energy can undo. Eggs are mostly made of water and proteins. The proteins start off folded up into intricate shapes, held together by weak chemical bonds. Adding heat disrupts those bonds, anwilolg the proteins to unfold, ucionl, unwind and wiggle freely. This process is called denaturing. The newly liberated proteins bump up against their neighbors and start to form new bonds with each other, more and more as the heat increases, until finally, they're so entangled that they gel into a solid mass, a boiled egg. That entanglement might look permanent, but it's not. According to a chemical idea caleld the principle of microscopic reversibility, anything that happens, like egg proteins seizing up, can theoretically unhappen if you retrace your steps. But anddig more heat will tangle the proteins further, and coonlig them down will only fezere them, so here's the trick: spin them around ridiculously fast. I'm not kidding. Here's how it works. First, scientists dissolve boiled egg wheits in wtear with a chemical called urea, a small molecule that acts as a lubricant, coating the proteins' long strands and mnikag it easier for them to glide past each other. Then, they spin that solution in a glass tube at a breakneck 5000 rotations per minute, making the solution spread out into a thin film. Here's the key part. The solution nearest the wall spins faster than the solution closer to the middle. That difference in vocelity creates sheer stresses that repeatedly sctetrh and contract the proteins until eventually they snap back into their native shapes and stay there. By the time the ceifnurgte stops spinning, the egg wtihe is back in its original uilebond state. This tuqhnceie wkors with all sorts of proteins. Bigger, messier proteins can be more resistant to being pulled apart, so scientists attach a plastic bead to one end that adds etxra stress and encourages it to fold up first. This unboiling method won't work with a whole egg in its shell since the solotuin has to spread throughout a cylindrical chamber. But the applications go way beyond uncooking your breakfast, anyhow. Many prihuaaaltcemcs consist of proteins that are extremely expensive to produce, pralty because they get stuck in tangled up aggregates, just like cooked egg whites and have to be utlgnaend and refolded before they can do their jobs. This spinning technique has the potential to be an easier, cehpaer and qekicur method than other ways to refold proteins, so it may allow new drugs to be made available to more people faster. And there's one more thing you need to keep in mind before trying to uncook all of your food. Boiling an egg is actually an unusual cooking process because even though it changes the way proteins are shaped and bound together, it doesn't actually change their chemical initetdy. Most types of cooking are more like the famous Maillard rcaiteon, which makes chemical changes that turn sragus and pnroiets into delicious cmareal crunchiness and are a lot harder to undo. So you might be able to unboil your egg, but I'm sorry to say you can't unfry it...yet.

Open Cloze

It's so _______ that it's practically proverbial. You can't unboil an egg. Well, it turns out you can, sort of. What _______ ______ does to the eggs' _________, mechanical energy can undo. Eggs are mostly made of water and proteins. The proteins start off folded up into intricate shapes, held together by weak chemical bonds. Adding heat disrupts those bonds, ________ the proteins to unfold, ______, unwind and wiggle freely. This process is called denaturing. The newly liberated proteins bump up against their neighbors and start to form new bonds with each other, more and more as the heat increases, until finally, they're so entangled that they gel into a solid mass, a boiled egg. That entanglement might look permanent, but it's not. According to a chemical idea ______ the principle of microscopic reversibility, anything that happens, like egg proteins seizing up, can theoretically unhappen if you retrace your steps. But ______ more heat will tangle the proteins further, and _______ them down will only ______ them, so here's the trick: spin them around ridiculously fast. I'm not kidding. Here's how it works. First, scientists dissolve boiled egg ______ in _____ with a chemical called urea, a small molecule that acts as a lubricant, coating the proteins' long strands and ______ it easier for them to glide past each other. Then, they spin that solution in a glass tube at a breakneck 5000 rotations per minute, making the solution spread out into a thin film. Here's the key part. The solution nearest the wall spins faster than the solution closer to the middle. That difference in ________ creates sheer stresses that repeatedly _______ and contract the proteins until eventually they snap back into their native shapes and stay there. By the time the __________ stops spinning, the egg _____ is back in its original ________ state. This _________ _____ with all sorts of proteins. Bigger, messier proteins can be more resistant to being pulled apart, so scientists attach a plastic bead to one end that adds _____ stress and encourages it to fold up first. This unboiling method won't work with a whole egg in its shell since the ________ has to spread throughout a cylindrical chamber. But the applications go way beyond uncooking your breakfast, anyhow. Many _______________ consist of proteins that are extremely expensive to produce, ______ because they get stuck in tangled up aggregates, just like cooked egg whites and have to be _________ and refolded before they can do their jobs. This spinning technique has the potential to be an easier, _______ and _______ method than other ways to refold proteins, so it may allow new drugs to be made available to more people faster. And there's one more thing you need to keep in mind before trying to uncook all of your food. Boiling an egg is actually an unusual cooking process because even though it changes the way proteins are shaped and bound together, it doesn't actually change their chemical ________. Most types of cooking are more like the famous Maillard ________, which makes chemical changes that turn ______ and ________ into delicious _______ crunchiness and are a lot harder to undo. So you might be able to unboil your egg, but I'm sorry to say you can't unfry it...yet.

Solution

  1. making
  2. uncoil
  3. obvious
  4. extra
  5. unboiled
  6. water
  7. energy
  8. whites
  9. technique
  10. allowing
  11. centrifuge
  12. untangled
  13. adding
  14. works
  15. freeze
  16. sugars
  17. called
  18. solution
  19. cheaper
  20. white
  21. partly
  22. molecules
  23. cooling
  24. thermal
  25. velocity
  26. pharmaceuticals
  27. identity
  28. stretch
  29. proteins
  30. caramel
  31. quicker
  32. reaction

Original Text

It's so obvious that it's practically proverbial. You can't unboil an egg. Well, it turns out you can, sort of. What thermal energy does to the eggs' molecules, mechanical energy can undo. Eggs are mostly made of water and proteins. The proteins start off folded up into intricate shapes, held together by weak chemical bonds. Adding heat disrupts those bonds, allowing the proteins to unfold, uncoil, unwind and wiggle freely. This process is called denaturing. The newly liberated proteins bump up against their neighbors and start to form new bonds with each other, more and more as the heat increases, until finally, they're so entangled that they gel into a solid mass, a boiled egg. That entanglement might look permanent, but it's not. According to a chemical idea called the principle of microscopic reversibility, anything that happens, like egg proteins seizing up, can theoretically unhappen if you retrace your steps. But adding more heat will tangle the proteins further, and cooling them down will only freeze them, so here's the trick: spin them around ridiculously fast. I'm not kidding. Here's how it works. First, scientists dissolve boiled egg whites in water with a chemical called urea, a small molecule that acts as a lubricant, coating the proteins' long strands and making it easier for them to glide past each other. Then, they spin that solution in a glass tube at a breakneck 5000 rotations per minute, making the solution spread out into a thin film. Here's the key part. The solution nearest the wall spins faster than the solution closer to the middle. That difference in velocity creates sheer stresses that repeatedly stretch and contract the proteins until eventually they snap back into their native shapes and stay there. By the time the centrifuge stops spinning, the egg white is back in its original unboiled state. This technique works with all sorts of proteins. Bigger, messier proteins can be more resistant to being pulled apart, so scientists attach a plastic bead to one end that adds extra stress and encourages it to fold up first. This unboiling method won't work with a whole egg in its shell since the solution has to spread throughout a cylindrical chamber. But the applications go way beyond uncooking your breakfast, anyhow. Many pharmaceuticals consist of proteins that are extremely expensive to produce, partly because they get stuck in tangled up aggregates, just like cooked egg whites and have to be untangled and refolded before they can do their jobs. This spinning technique has the potential to be an easier, cheaper and quicker method than other ways to refold proteins, so it may allow new drugs to be made available to more people faster. And there's one more thing you need to keep in mind before trying to uncook all of your food. Boiling an egg is actually an unusual cooking process because even though it changes the way proteins are shaped and bound together, it doesn't actually change their chemical identity. Most types of cooking are more like the famous Maillard reaction, which makes chemical changes that turn sugars and proteins into delicious caramel crunchiness and are a lot harder to undo. So you might be able to unboil your egg, but I'm sorry to say you can't unfry it...yet.

Frequently Occurring Word Combinations

ngrams of length 2

collocation frequency
boiled egg 2
egg whites 2

Important Words

  1. acts
  2. adding
  3. adds
  4. aggregates
  5. allowing
  6. applications
  7. attach
  8. bead
  9. bigger
  10. boiled
  11. boiling
  12. bonds
  13. bound
  14. breakfast
  15. breakneck
  16. bump
  17. called
  18. caramel
  19. centrifuge
  20. chamber
  21. change
  22. cheaper
  23. chemical
  24. closer
  25. coating
  26. consist
  27. contract
  28. cooked
  29. cooking
  30. cooling
  31. creates
  32. crunchiness
  33. cylindrical
  34. delicious
  35. denaturing
  36. difference
  37. disrupts
  38. dissolve
  39. drugs
  40. easier
  41. egg
  42. eggs
  43. encourages
  44. energy
  45. entangled
  46. entanglement
  47. eventually
  48. expensive
  49. extra
  50. extremely
  51. famous
  52. fast
  53. faster
  54. film
  55. finally
  56. fold
  57. folded
  58. food
  59. form
  60. freely
  61. freeze
  62. gel
  63. glass
  64. glide
  65. harder
  66. heat
  67. held
  68. idea
  69. identity
  70. increases
  71. intricate
  72. jobs
  73. key
  74. kidding
  75. liberated
  76. long
  77. lot
  78. lubricant
  79. maillard
  80. making
  81. mass
  82. mechanical
  83. messier
  84. method
  85. microscopic
  86. middle
  87. mind
  88. minute
  89. molecule
  90. molecules
  91. native
  92. nearest
  93. neighbors
  94. newly
  95. obvious
  96. original
  97. part
  98. partly
  99. people
  100. permanent
  101. pharmaceuticals
  102. plastic
  103. potential
  104. practically
  105. principle
  106. process
  107. produce
  108. proteins
  109. proverbial
  110. pulled
  111. quicker
  112. reaction
  113. refold
  114. refolded
  115. repeatedly
  116. resistant
  117. retrace
  118. reversibility
  119. ridiculously
  120. rotations
  121. scientists
  122. seizing
  123. shaped
  124. shapes
  125. sheer
  126. shell
  127. small
  128. snap
  129. solid
  130. solution
  131. sort
  132. sorts
  133. spin
  134. spinning
  135. spins
  136. spread
  137. start
  138. state
  139. stay
  140. steps
  141. stops
  142. strands
  143. stress
  144. stresses
  145. stretch
  146. stuck
  147. sugars
  148. tangle
  149. tangled
  150. technique
  151. theoretically
  152. thermal
  153. thin
  154. time
  155. tube
  156. turn
  157. turns
  158. types
  159. unboil
  160. unboiled
  161. unboiling
  162. uncoil
  163. uncook
  164. uncooking
  165. undo
  166. unfold
  167. unfry
  168. unhappen
  169. untangled
  170. unusual
  171. unwind
  172. urea
  173. velocity
  174. wall
  175. water
  176. ways
  177. weak
  178. white
  179. whites
  180. wiggle
  181. work
  182. works