I know it's the proteins that somehow change their properties at some temparature.

But what kind of change, in terms of molecule-level structure?

  • $\begingroup$ protein folding is biophysics, which is a separate department at many universities. Isn't biophysics ok here? $\endgroup$ – DavePhD Apr 19 '14 at 12:27
  • $\begingroup$ @jinawee I would think the biologic effects of the changes are irrelevant in regards to the question, as are the chemical effects too - what remains is physics. $\endgroup$ – Volker Siegel Apr 19 '14 at 12:35
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    $\begingroup$ @jinawee meta.physics.stackexchange.com/q/4403 $\endgroup$ – DavePhD Apr 19 '14 at 12:46
  • $\begingroup$ Let's see what others think. But I guess it could be more specific, like: What is the physical process of denaturatation? $\endgroup$ – jinawee Apr 19 '14 at 12:51
  • $\begingroup$ This is related to unfolding of structures of proteins... This is certainly chemistry... In fact I remember seeing a type of this question in my chem book.. $\endgroup$ – evil999man Apr 19 '14 at 12:52

Basically, the egg-white (just another protein structure) is made of long chains of amino acids. They're held in shape by weak bonds. When you heat the structure, the energy you put in, is enough to break those bonds, thereby destroy the structure. This process has a name for it.

Once the temperature is high enough, new covalent bonds can form between the amino acids, and the amino acids in some other protein and they become entangled into a much more complicated structure, which is completely different from the real one. As you cool, you get this finished structure as cooked egg...

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  • $\begingroup$ Ah, thanks, now I start to see how it's chemistry, I saw it as related to a phase change... I'll ask for migrating it - Oh, I'll better take out of the title the explicit "physical" before $\endgroup$ – Volker Siegel Apr 19 '14 at 16:01

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