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The Alchemist learns this week of analysis fit for a king as British scientists reveal the remains of the most infamous son of York, Richard the Third. In the world of materials, graphitic oxides are shown to behave like water-logged clays at very low temperatures while cutting the mustard could lead to more efficient farming and perhaps new medical approaches to metabolic disorders. A conducting polymer device has been described that could charge up a mobile phone by tapping into your body heat, while a health test for oranges might improve the quality of fruit juice and save trees from dieback. Finally, the Japan Prize is awarded to two ex-IBM scientists for their pioneering work in the 1970s that led to the technique of choice for making so-called silicon chips.

Graphite oxide swells like a clay in water when cooled in methanol or ethanol according to researchers at Umeå University in Sweden, the work has implications for handling oxides of the all-carbon material graphene. Alexandr Talyzin and colleagues found that graphite oxide incorporates additional methanol and ethanol molecules as it is cooled to temperatures well below ambient as its structure expands. At -130 Celsius graphene oxide layers are separated by 20.4 Å due to incorporation of additional ethanol into its structure, compared to approximately 3.4 Å in natural graphite and approximately 6.5 Å in solvent-free graphite oxide.

In work on the laboratory standard mustard plant, Arabidopsis thaliana, scientists at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California, have an explanation for how organisms, including humans, directly regulate chemical reactions that quickly adjust the growth of organs. Joanne Chory and Joseph Noel and their colleagues have demonstrated that metabolic steps need not be discrete and can be much more streamlined and interconnected. The finding overturns the received wisdom on how different body parts coordinate their growth, hinting at how more productive crop plants might be bred and opening up the possibility of new therapies for metabolic diseases.

TA thin polymer film thermoelectric device can generate electricity from the temperature difference between your fingertips and the environment, according to Eunkyoung Kim from Yonsei University, South Korea and colleagues. The researchers have optimized the polymerization and electrochemical redox process to create conducting polymers based on poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) (PEDOT) with good electrical conductivity and relatively high thermoelectric properties, reporting a power factor of more than 1260 microwatts per meter per Kelvin squared. Such a device could be incorporated into clothing and use your body heat to charge your mobile phone, reports Chemistry World.

Oranges that are not in the pink can be detected using NMR spectroscopy, according to work by scientists at the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) based in Fort Pierce, Florida. The researchers have used the amino acid composition of juice from oranges to identify those grown on trees infected with HLB, Huanglongbing, a pathogen that causes citrus greening disease. The study should allow fruit growers and processors to identify problem batches before products based on the citrus fruit, such as fruit juices, are manufactured. Additionally, work that leads to a better understanding of how the pathogen affects the amino acid profile of the fruit might lead to agrochemicals to inhibit infection in the first place.

Grant Willson of The University of Texas at Austin, whose processes are used to manufacture almost every microprocessor will share the Japan Prize of 50 million yen (about $560,000) with colleague Jean Fréchet (now the vice president of research at King Abdullah University in Saudi Arabia). The pair will receive the Prize at a presentation ceremony attended by the emperor of Japan in Tokyo in April. Willson and Fréchet first conceived of chemically amplified resists, in 1979 when Willson was a researcher at IBM and Fréchet was there on sabbatical from the University of Ottawa.

The earthly remains of King Richard III, the last Plantagenet king of England have been identified in a grave uncovered in a parking lot in the city of Leicester, England, home of DNA fingerprinting. Richard was king for just two years, from 1483 until his death in 1485 at the Battle of Bosworth Field. His demise made inglorious by Shakespeare in the eponymous play led to the accession of Henry VII first king of the House of Tudor. Richard's remains were buried without pomp at the time and were only uncovered in 2012 by an archeological dig at the site of the Franciscan monastic community, Greyfriars, since covered by the process of urbanization and a modern parking lot. Researchers at the University of Leicester, renowned for its DNA sequencing prowess, applied their skills to analyzing the bones. The data they obtained coupled with DNA testing of living descendents of the king and historical evidence proved in February 2013, beyond reasonable doubt, that the grave was indeed the last resting place of Richard III. Wits have repeatedly suggested that they always did plantagenetically test the remains and that he owes the biggest parking fine in history. The cities of York and Leicester are now arguing about where the hearse should take Richard's remains to be reburied ceremonially.