Breakfast: Take Two

Fact: You can un-boil an egg.

Boiling an egg causes a fundamental change in the proteins that make up the egg white, which you’ll know if you ever had eggs and soldiers as a kid because a raw egg and a cooked egg look pretty different. The high temperature causes the proteins to lose their shape and tangle up, turning the white from a liquid into a gloopy, rubbery solid.

What you may not know is that scientists can reverse this process, in effect ‘un-boiling’ the egg. A chemical called urea can be used to untangle proteins in the egg white, which allows them to then re-fold in the correct way. Spin it all around a few times (really really fast) and within a couple of minutes, just like that, the protein has re-folded correctly and your egg is raw again.

Applications of this research could save hours of labour in certain industries, and addresses that age old problem “I don’t really feel like a boiled egg anymore, I wish I could have scrambled instead.” Although you may not want to try this at home; urea is a major component of urine, and that’s enough to put anyone off breakfast.

‘Another one of Mr Shaunak’s Little Bites of Science’
Image under Creative common’s license, 
by Dan Tentler, unedited.


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