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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

Bell, unrung

You can't unring a bell. You can't call back the arrow. What's done is done. Measure twice and cut once. Our language is full of phrases urging great though before we act, because once we've acted there is no turning back.

But, well . . .

Scientists at the University of California Irvine have developed a way to unboil egg whites by “untangling” their proteins, a development that has the potential to significantly reduce costs for any biotechnology process that requires the folding of proteins.

“Yes, we have invented a way to unboil a hen egg,” UCI biochemistry professor Gregory Weiss said in a statement. “We start with egg whites boiled for 20 minutes at 90 degrees Celsius and return a key protein in the egg to working order.”

In a paper published Friday in the journal ChemBioChem, Weiss and his team of chemistry students describe a method capable of pulling apart tangled proteins and allowing them to refold.

The scientists stress that what they end up with is not a "gooey raw egg" that you would want to cook up and eat. But they do manage to "ufold" the egg and bring back a key component of the egg white. Think of the dog (and then the kid) in "Pet Sematary."

At first this sounds like something only a nerd would talk about to impress the other nerds. But I think it's kind of a big deal, not because of the eggs, but how the process might be used elsewhere.

We live in amazing times, Almost every day it seems, something is invented or discovered or developed that just a short time ago nobody would have thought possible. And the extraordinary has become so commonplace it is becoming harder and harder to be amazed and astonished by anything.