December 9, 2014 | Georgie

I can never tell how ripe fruits are until I've taken a bite, but now help is at hand.

Scientists have measured the ripeness of apples using a technique called biospeckle. It involves shining a helium-neon laser on an apple's surface and looking at how the light reflects. Small imperfections on the apple's smooth skin cause the laser to bounce irregularly, producing a grainy appearance that changes as the apple ripens.

This technique could help farmers better predict how long fruits can be stored.

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To check their results, the team monitored the apples' production of ethene gas - a by-product of the ripening process.

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Image: Flickr/Mr Noded

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