Weekly News Bites: Super-heavy oxygen, flavorful hairy fibers, and crying to power a contact lens

Asia Research News monitors the latest research news in Asia. Some highlights that caught our attention this week are the detection of a rare isotope of oxygen, converting waste coconut fibers into a flavoring compound, and a smart contact lens battery that can be powered by tears.

Physicists led by the Tokyo Institute of Technology have detected a rare version of oxygen that is “super-heavy”, 28O. Usually oxygen has 8 protons and neutrons, while this version has 8 protons and 20 neutrons. This isotope disintegrated quickly, bringing up questions about the forces that hold these atoms together.

Mutations that could lead to breast cancer seem to begin when girls reach the age of puberty says research by Kyoto University, Tokyo Medical and Dental University, and Keio University. By looking at the genomes and mutations and going in chronological order of their mutation processes, the team found that a unique alteration (found in 20% of breast carcinoma cases) seems to begin when the participants were about 10 years old.

Scientists from Banaras Hindu University have found a new use for the hairy fibers found on the outside of coconuts, often discarded as waste. The team has developed a new flavoring compound that has shown potential health benefits when tested on cells, such as anti-cancer properties.  

The average temperature in Japan from June to August this year has been the hottest on record says an expert panel of the Japan Meteorological Agency. Record-keeping began in 1898 and the average temperatures have never previously reached these heights. Several factors contributed to this year’s heatwaves such as high-pressure systems and typhoons.

Crying helps you feel better… but in the future it may also help you see better. Nanyang Technological University scientists have found a way to power and recharge smart contact lenses through tears. The small battery has a glucose-based coating that reacts with the chemicals in tears to generate electricity.