About Me

Featured

I am a junior high science teacher with a passion for all things science. I am currently pursuing a master’s degree in science education. When I am not teaching young impressionable minds, I love spending time with my beautiful wife and sweet daughter. If I have spare time beyond that, I like reading books, playing sports, hiking, collecting bugs, playing board games, and watching movies. I currently call Layton, Utah home and truly enjoy seeing the towering Wasatch mountains from my backyard everyday. I have a dream of writing books and traveling various parts of the world researching and exploring for my books. My goal in writing this blog is to instill a sense of scientific wonder in the hearts of my students and readers, both young and old. To build bridges of understanding between the scientific world and the everyday lives of my readers is the underlying purpose of my blog. Join me and dare to discover something new about the world around. Be prepared to witness the wonder and awe that follows daily scientific phenomena witnessed with new eyes. But be warned, your world will never be the same again once you learn to see your life through green tinted glasses.

After reading sections of my blog, please leave me comments so that I can improve my writing and improve your experience as the reader. Thank you!

Advertisements

Science and Significance: The Banana

 

My wife’s breakfast of choice includes cold cereal and a banana. But unlike most mornings, my wife put on her “green tinted glasses” this particular morning and began to question her routine breakfast spread. Instead of seeing her average, mundane breakfast, she saw questions that needed answering. Why are bananas so readily available to her in the winter? Why are bananas shaped the way they are? Why don’t they have seeds? Why are they yellow? Why do they have a peel? Needless to say, I was thrilled when my beautiful and inquisitive wife turned to me for the answers and suggested I make it a blog post.

The Science:

The bananas that we eat and can purchase at the grocery store even in the coldest of winters originate from tropical regions of our planet. There are many misconceptions that surround this unassuming fruit. The banana actually comes from herbaceous plants and not a tree. The banana is technically a berry. But my favorite misconception is that all bananas are the same. There are actually more varieties than the yellow crescent shaped ones we are used to. Some bananas are fuzzy, some are striped, and some even taste like strawberries.

The bananas we all know and love come from a single genus (or classification group larger than the species level) known as Musa. From this one genus, scientists have selectively bred and cultivated the perfect banana for eating. Scientists looked for bananas that had improved plant vigor, were hardier than other bananas, had a sweeter and more pleasant taste, and had a higher fruit to plant ratio. But my favorite trait that scientists looked for was parthenocarpy. This is a trait that causes bananas to have seed sterility… or in other words, the banana had no seeds! Once scientists found Musa bananas that possessed the desired traits, they bred them over and over again until they had created a delicious banana that is easy to eat and cultivate.

food nature agriculture green
Photo by Public Domain Pictures on Pexels.com

As you may have noticed (even without green tinted glasses) bananas start as a green color. Almost all plants have a green color due to a chemical called chlorophyll inside of them. Chlorophyll takes energy from sunlight and transforms it into nutrients that the plant needs. This chlorophyll inside a green banana is responsible for supplying the banana with nutrients. These nutrients make the fruit inside the banana sweet. Once the fruit behind the peel has reached a satisfactory level of nutrients, the banana starts to turn yellow in color. This happens because the fruit no longer needs chlorophyll to supply nutrients, so the chlorophyll breaks down causing the peel to become thinner and the fruit to become softer and edible. Ever try to eat a green banana? If you ever did, you might break a nail trying to peel it and your eating experience would be very dull and unsatisfying.

All fruit-bearing plants have various strategies at their disposal to help ensure their posterity survives. This usually involves a strategy to protect the seeds until they are fertile and then another strategy to distribute the fertile seed. Imagine, if you will, that you are an animal in the tropical jungle. Once the banana plant’s seeds are fertile, the flowers on the plant will produce a scent attracting you to the fruit. Once you encounter the fruit, its shape makes it easy to grab and pull off of the plant. You will find the peel has become yellow and soft, making it easy for you to peel and eat. You will take a bite and find the fruit delicious and filled with 30 to 150 black seeds. This is part of the banana plant’s brilliant design to disperse its fertile seeds once it passes through your system. Thankfully you are an animal so the seeds don’t bother you, but to humans that is a very undesirable trait. That is why scientists searched for seedless banana traits.

The Significance:

To start with a fruit that only grows in tropical jungles and is fairly undesirable as far as taste and seed number goes and create a seedless, scrumptious, easy to produce fruit is very significant in my book. Science once again has proven to be a very powerful tool for good. But there is a flip side to this miracle of biology. The bananas we eat are merely clones. Once scientists found the desired traits and selectively bred the bananas for many years, clones of these optimal bananas began to be produced. Now the banana you eat could be identical to the banana someone is eating in Rome. Since all the bananas we eat are clones, this means that one little disease that happens to affect our mass produced optimal banana could threaten to destroy the highly globalized fruit. In nature, there are checks and balances for this sort of thing. But when you biologically engineer something until all versions of that something have the same exact genes, it becomes a very fragile, all be it optimal, kind of something.

May you never look at your ordinary breakfast banana the same again.

animal ape banana cute
Photo by Oleksandr Pidvalnyi on Pexels.com

If you read this whole blog post, you are my hero! Thanks for reading. Please feel free to leave me a comment and feedback below. Also, let me know if there is any particular science topic you would like me to look at “through green tinted glasses” and I will write about it.

Science Word of the Week: parthenocarpy–The development of unfertilized fruit which makes the fruit seedless.

 

Work Cited: 

https://www.scienceabc.com/nature/bananas-change-colour-upon-ripening.html

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/230013045_The_Bananas_Botany_Origin_Dispersal

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/people-and-culture/food/the-plate/2016/08/the-miracle-of-bananas/

 

The New Year’s Resolution at the Top of My List: Eat More Chocolate!

Lifethroughgreentintedglasses would like to wish everyone a happy new year! To celebrate the new year, let’s break out the chocolate! Some of you may be feeling guilty being invited to my chocolate New Year’s party after you have thrown all the chocolate away in your house because one of your New Year’s resolutions is to eat healthier. I am not telling you to go dumpster diving to retrieve your chocolate, but I am telling you to reconsider missing out on one of the greatest accomplishments of chemical engineering this world has ever seen. Not only are you missing out on a delicious snack, but you are also missing out on a natural reservoir of energy, antioxidants, “feel good” chemicals, and an out of this world food experience. Plus, there is even a Harvard study that attempts to prove that the regular consumption of a small amount of dark chocolate leads to an increased life expectancy.

 

What makes chocolate the greatest accomplishment of chemical engineering?

This is obviously my own opinion, but I do have some evidence to prove it! The chocolate we all know and love comes from “cocoa beans” which are inside a pod that grows on trees in tropical climates. If you popped one of these beans in your mouth thinking you would taste the sweet, earthy chocolate flavors, you would be awakened to a horribly bitter flavored and fibrous textured nightmare. Before they can taste even remotely like the fruity, nutty, and rich chocolate we are familiar with, it must go through a remarkable transformation process. As much as I like butterflies, chocolate has them beat as far as metamorphosis goes.

The cocoa pods must first be picked from the tree and left to ferment in the heat of the tropical sun for a couple weeks. While these cocoa beans are rotting, chemical reactions are taking place inside the pods between alcohols and acids to create the very beginnings of chocolate. But the outcome of these chemical reactions are dependent upon a variety of factors taking place at this point; such as temperature, quantity of cocoa beans in the  pile, amount of oxygen available, species of cocoa bean, and the ripeness of the cocoa bean just to name a few. Now are you beginning to see why good quality chocolate takes careful time, attention, and research? But wait, there are more steps before we get to the common chocolate bar.

white ceramic mug filled with coffee beside coffee beans
Photo by Janko Ferlic on Pexels.com

Next the fermented beans must be extracted from the pods and roasted and temperature of up to 160 degrees Celsius. Chocolate’s rich, nutty and savory flavors begin to form from this particular chemical reaction. After being roasted, most cocoa beans are then put through a press to separate out the cocoa butter from the remaining cocoa solids. Depending on how dense the cocoa fats (butter) are, the more stable and stronger the chocolate. So it takes quite a bit of testing to get the cocoa fats just right to create that brittle chocolate that snaps off the bar and melts in your mouth. The cocoa solids are then ground up to a fine pulp and mixed back together with some of the cocoa butter along with sugar. Then, depending on how bitter or how sweet the chocolate should be, milk of varying quantities is added to the mix. Interestingly, different countries use different kinds of milk to create a unique chocolaty outcome. Europe commonly uses powdered milk to make their chocolate while the United Kingdom uses a sugar milk solution to make theirs and the United States uses a milk with fats removed from it to make theirs (this does not necessarily make the United States’ chocolate healthier).

A small bite of the rich history of chocolate

Phew, are you as exhausted as I am after reading that!? It take a lot of work just to create your favorite chocolate bar. Is it any wonder why chocolate is such a prized food today? The cocoa bean didn’t just start with us though. Some of the first cocoa beans were being used by the ancient Mesoamericans for ceremonial rites of passage and even for currency. Later, European explorers later acquired the cocoa beans from the ancient Mayan people and attempted to create a drink out of it that would compete with the highly popular tea and coffee. Chocolate as a drink never really took off outside Mesoamerica, but the birth of the chocolate bar was just beginning.

Benefits of chocolate outweigh the cons?

The jury is still out as to whether chocolate should be considered “healthy.” But there are a hefty chunk of benefits. Just ask the military who uses chocolate as a common staple in military rations. Chocolate contains tons of antioxidants which help give chocolate a long shelf life perfect for military rations. Chocolate also contains sugar which provides soldiers a nice energy boost, caffeine along with a chemical called theobromine which gives soldiers brain stimulation, and fats to replenish those lost by the soldiers during high intensity exercise. If soldiers eat chocolate, that makes me feel so much more comfortable leaving chocolate on my diet.

soldier in camouflage shirt
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Due to the high quantity of antioxidants in chocolate, some researchers say it has more health benefits to take advantage of. However, most research has been inconclusive as to the exact health benefits the antioxidants add to chocolate.

Conclusion:

So whether you like you chocolate wrapped in shiny foil, or packaged in a colorful paper sheet, or secured in an uniquely shaped box; be sure to pay homage to the remarkable engineering and scientific research that went into creating the perfect chocolate experience just for you. Hopefully you have crossed chocolate off of your New Year’s resolution list of “do not eat in 2019.”

**Most of the information for my post today came from chapter 4 in the book titled “Stuff Matters” by Mark Miodownik. I highly recommend this book written by one of my favorite science writers.

Science Word of the Week:Theobromine“– A psychoactive stimulant with a bitter taste found in the cocao plant. It is a molecule containing 7 carbon atoms, 8 hydrogen atoms, 4 nitrogen atoms, and 2 oxygen atoms.

If you read this whole blog post, you are my hero! Thanks for reading. Please feel free to leave me a comment and feedback below. Also, let me know if there is any particular science topic you would like me to look at “through green tinted glasses” and I will write about it.

 

 

Science and Significance: The Christmas Tree

Putting up the Christmas tree every year can be a hassle, but it truly would not be Christmas in my home without one. Humanity has used fir trees (or similar conifers) as part of their celebration of Christmas for thousands of years. So even though there are few things in this world as frustrating as stringing lights around every limb of your tree, it is tradition and must be done! As Christmas comes to an end and you take down your Christmas tree, try and think about the actual science and significance behind the Christmas tree.

photography of trees covered with snow
Photo by Radu Andrei Razvan on Pexels.com

The Significance: We know trees have been used in celebrations of Christmas for thousands of years, but why does everyone always use fir trees? The evergreen fir tree, which wears green needles all year round, has been used for its symbol of living spring to come (most trees at winter time appear dead and leafless, thus making them a terrible symbol of life). Whether your fir tree is fake or real, its green branches which you decorate every year has been used as a symbol of everlasting life with God by Christians worldwide. The evergreen fir tree is a Christmas celebration of life and better times ahead.

orange and blue and white snow forest
Photo by aj povey on Pexels.com

The Science: Now that we know the significance behind the use of fir trees, let’s talk about the actual science behind these symbols of life. Like most living things, trees need to have some strategies for surviving the bitter cold of winter. Some trees use thick bark to regulate their internal temperatures. Other trees shed their leaves to protect against the harshness of winter. Trees absorb energy from the sun using leaves. In the winter, the sun is not in the sky long enough for leaves to be useful in absorbing sunlight, plus leaves during winter means potential water loss and damage to the tree from excess snow and wind, so trees just get rid of them. However, fir trees (and other conifers) have green needles instead of leaves. These needles are effective at absorbing sunlight all year and it takes very little energy on the tree’s part to keep the needles around. The branches of fir trees are built so they can shed snow much better than other trees and the needles also contain a waxy coating which protects the tree from water loss and freezing.

The evergreen fir tree, the ultimate symbol of winter survival and of life just around the bitter cold corner of winter.

Science word of the week: “Conifer”— A tree that bears cones and evergreen needle-like leaves.

For additional insight on the topic of trees’ winter adaptations, visit this excellent website: http://www.friendsofreadwildlifesanctuary.org/news-and-events/curators-corner/survival-adaptations-how-trees-cope-with-winter/

If you read this whole blog post, you are my hero! Thanks for reading. Please feel free to leave me a comment and feedback below. Also, let me know if there is any particular science topic you would like me to look at “through green tinted glasses” and I will write about it.

This Planet’s Ultimate Survivalist: The Water Bear!

Last week, in commemoration of the harsh cold winter season, I wrote about an organism that could not only survive incredible temperature extremes but could also keep on ticking after nuclear warfare, unfathomable amounts of UV radiation, and even a zombie apocalypse. Endospore forming bacteria would win almost all survivalist battles. However, today I want to write about an animal that is another incredible example of doomsday survival and let you take your pick as to which organism is better suited to survive the end of the world. Who will win the epic showdown, endospore forming bacteria or the Tardigrade?!

The tardigrade has an epic nickname as well just to make things even more awesome, it is commonly referred to as the “water bear.” But don’t worry, it also has a sweet and endearing nickname to appease the ladies, the “moss piglet.” Tardigrades are part of the animal kingdom, but occupy a phylum known as “tardigrada.” There are over a thousand tardigrade species, but generally they all are short, stocky water-loving invertebrates with four pairs of legs and tiny claws at the end of each leg. So what makes the water bear a potential post-apocalyptic survivor? I have chosen to discuss a few of its survival skills below.

art boiling eruption fog
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

They already have an unbeatable resume: The microscopic, unassuming tardigrade has already survived 5 mass extinctions in Earth’s history. They have been spotted at the tops of high mountain ranges and at the bottom of the deepest oceans near mud volcanoes. Researchers say they can even survive temperature extremes of as low as minus 328 degrees Fahrenheit up to highs of 300 degrees Fahrenheit and can withstand up to 1000 times more radiation than other animals. Go ahead and tear up your application for that “survivor of terrestrial catastrophes” job application right now, the tardigrade will get the job hands down.

Step aside Inspector Gadget: If you thought Inspector Gadget had an amazing array tools at his disposal, then you need to check out the moss piglet’s adaptations. Tardigrades can undergo a state similar to hibernation called cryptobiosis. In cryptobiosis, their body forms into a dehydrated ball and begins to produce chemicals necessary to protect their vital organs while their bodies very nearly shut down completely. This cryptobiotic state has also shown to prevent the formation of ice crystals if they are exposed to extremely cold temperatures and to safeguard against high levels of radiation. When water becomes available once more, their bodies leave cryptobiosis and begin to function normally again.

Space is not the final frontier for the Water Bear: If Earth ever becomes inhabitable for any form of life, the water bear could drift out into space and still survive. Water bears have been known to survive pressures as high as 1200 times that of our Earth’s atmospheric pressure and pressures as low as those found deep in space. Once in cryptobiosis (they form that dehydrated ball known as a “tun.”), some tardigrades have even been brought back to life after being exposed to the actual pressures and intense radiation of outer space.

sky space dark galaxy
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Not only are these animals cute and cuddly, but they are incredibly durable! What we can learn from these amazing creatures is endless. But which ultimate survivor is better, endospore forming bacteria or tardigrades? Cast your vote in the comments section below!

Science word of the week: Cryptobiosis–The ability to undergo a near death-like state to suspend their metabolism and maintain their bodily organs until water and nutrients become available. Tardigrades have been known to survive for up to five years in a cryptobiotic state!

For more information on tardigrades, check out these awesome websites which I used to gather some of my information for this post:

https://www.livescience.com/57985-tardigrade-facts.html

https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/07/tardigrades-water-bears-extinction-earth-science/

If you read this whole blog post, you are my hero! Thanks for reading. Please feel free to leave me a comment and feedback below. Also, let me know if there is any particular science topic you would like me to look at “through green tinted glasses” and I will write about it.

 

 

Best way to survive the end of the world… Endospores of course!

As Christmas approaches, the weather around here changes dramatically. I have to give myself an extra 10 minutes in the morning just so I can scrape my car windshield and possibly traverse through adverse winter conditions. As I step outside into the bitter cold every morning, I wonder how long I could actually survive in these conditions… Thirty minutes? One hour? Perhaps only fifteen minutes because as I enter my car I am convinced my fingers are about to fall off! All organisms have to learn to adapt in order to survive extremes in weather. For humans, we have evolved a large brain and have developed skills necessary to build structures to help us survive temperature extremes. Other organisms aren’t as fortunate as we are and have to live in the extreme temperatures and have to adapt in far more dangerous conditions. However, various living things around the globe have developed incredible adaptations to survive in harsh climates and under ruthless circumstances.

close up photography of penguin on snow
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Common adaptations we have all heard about include hibernation, thick fur or blubber to keep the warmth inside the body, and even avoiding the cold all together by flying south to a more suitable climate. Other animals will simply “roll with the punches” and become frozen all winter and then thaw out and carry on with their lives as normal once spring hits (various insects and frogs employ this tactic). Still others have more unique tactics like evolving blood similar to antifreeze. Animals like the Antarctic icefish have chemicals in their blood that prevent ice crystals from forming inside of them, which would quickly prove to be detrimental to their circulation system and fatal to the organisms overall. But, in my opinion, certain strains of bacteria have one the “greatest evolutionary method of survival in adverse conditions” award (it cost me like an extra ten bucks to fit that title on a plaque).

Certain strains of bacteria form endospores to help them survive literally any and all adverse condition ever thought of. To paint a picture of what an endospore can do for bacteria, picture a gaint meteor the size of Mercury crashing into our planet along with worldwide nuclear fallout combined with a runaway greenhouse effect causing global temperatures to exceed 200 degrees Fahrenheit all wrapped in a bow of zombie apocalypse! Yep, an endospore could solve all of those problems! (Minor side note: scientists have not tested the strength of endospores in the conditions listed above, though I have heard zombie apocalypse testing is well underway)

Word of the Week: “Endospore”–A dormant and highly resistant cell to preserve the cell’s genetic material in times of extreme stress.

Certain strains of bacteria that have the capability of forming endospores, like Bacillus subtilis, do not carry around the endospores their entire lives. This would be disadvantageous for the reproduction of the bacteria. You see, once the bacterium is enclosed in an endospore, it can neither feed nor reproduce but is in a dormant state until more suitable living conditions become available. The development of an endospore is triggered in response to the lack of nutrients in its environment. Once the endospore forms inside of the bacterial cell (a cell formed within a cell) the mother bacterial cell dies and the endospore is released into the environment encasing the DNA of that mother bacterial cell. The endospore will remain dormant until more favorable living conditions return.

So what makes an endospore so effective? It is basically like carrying around your own personal bomb shelter with PLENTY of protective layers. The bacteria’s “bomb shelter” is made of an outer coating that provides much of the chemical and enzymatic resistance necessary for survival along with a very thick layer underneath that called the cortex which protects it from temperature extremes. But let’s not forget about the germ cell wall underneath that which gives added protection and will eventually become the bacterial functioning cell wall once living conditions become available again. Oh and how could I forget about the inner membrane underneath the germ cell wall which is an added barrier to guard against other specific damaging chemicals. Finally we have the core of the endospore which contains various survival tools such as dipicolinic acid, which helps maintain the spore’s dormancy, and small acid-soluble proteins (or SASPs for short) which tightly bind and condense the DNA and are responsible for UV and other DNA-damaging chemical resistance.

In case I lost you  in that last paragraph of awesomeness, the endospore is one of the most effective adaptations on this planet for surviving in harsh environmental conditions. If one organism were to survive the biggest natural disaster this planet has ever seen, my money is on bacteria. They have been alive far longer than any other living thing on this planet and have evolved some decent survival skills to say the least. Let’s just say, “this isn’t their first rodeo.”

There are also strains of bacteria inside of surgeonfish that produce and use endospores nightly. These bacteria are beneficial to surgeonfish, they aid in the digestion of food. But at night, when the fish eat far less, the bacteria is preserved overnight until more food is digested by the fish in the morning and ready for the bacteria to break down. The endospore, having fulfilled its mission in preserving the cell, then gives way to the living bacterium.

grey and yellow salt fish
Photo by Uncoated on Pexels.com

We, as humans, are intelligent beings who have no need of some of these adaptations. However, I believe we would be foolish not to acknowledge and learn from the artful adaptations of other organisms around us. Who knows, the adaptations of mere bacteria may even shed light on a better way of living for us humans. It sure would not be the first time that has happened and it won’t be the last.

 

If you read this whole blog post, you are my hero! Thanks for reading. Please feel free to leave me a comment and feedback below. Also, let me know if there is any particular science topic you would like me to look at “through green tinted glasses” and I will write about it. The topic for this post came from a subscriber’s suggestion. Keep them coming!

 

*Most of the information from my writing in this blog came from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell University in the following website: https://micro.cornell.edu/research/epulopiscium/bacterial-endospores/

 

The Trickery and Deceptions of Light Part 2

While researching the crazy cool things that light does last week, I realized I had way too much material to cover it all in one week… So here we are! Part two of how light can dazzle, entertain, and deceive us. I hope you enjoy!

Water Puddle Mirages:

As a young boy many years ago I lived in Las Vegas, Nevada with my family. I remember long drives through the barren Nevada desert in the heat of the summer. Though I was plenty hydrated, I remember seeing off in the distance water mirages in the road. Convinced my mind was playing tricks on me, I drank more and more water to see if the mirage went away. The images of water continued to appear in the distant stretch of road so I resigned to the belief that I was fit for the loony bin at such a young age.

Was this my mind playing tricks on me? Nope. It’s another example of the trickery of light! Light bends as it passes through the super heated air above the road and alters the image we see. Allow me to divulge in greater detail the secrets of light below.

The first key to this puzzle is the black asphalt road. Black absorbs all colors of visible light from the sun. As the road absorbs all the energy from incoming light, it gives off a lot of heat (if you have ever worn a black shirt on a sunny summer day you can attest to this heat production as your shirt absorbs all the colors of light). Now for key number 2. Like I talked about in Part 1 of this blog post, as light travels from one medium (like air) into another medium (like water) it bends ever so slightly and alters the image we see. As the air just above the road gets super heated, it is like the light is passing through a completely new medium. Super heated air becomes less dense than the air around it and causes light to refract (bend) as it passes through. This refraction of light just above the road causes us to see a slight shimmer, or heat wave, and we also see a slight reflection of the blue sky as the light bounces off the black road. Remember, the color of water we see on Earth is also a reflection of the sky so this should make sense. So don’t fall for light’s trap and waste valuable energy running towards that mirage!

animals birds dawn giraffe
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Colors of a Sunset:

You travel home victorious. It has been a glorious day and you have had much success in basically everything you did. As you drive home you notice a beautiful sunset as if the sky were celebrating your accomplishments as well. Life is good, but as you drive off into the sunset you fail to even question how the sky is now magically red, yellow, and orange when just minutes ago it was typical blue. These beautiful phenomena occur daily, famous photos and images depict these marvels but do we even know how they occur?! Put simply, red color of light get scattered the least in our atmosphere so we see it at sunset which is the light’s longest journey to reach our eyes. Still confused? Let me attempt to break it down for you.

During the day when the sun is high in the sky but the light from the sun has a short distance to travel before it hits our eyes, we see the sky as blue because blue light is scattered the most. When I say the “light is scattered,” I mean that light from the sun collides with particles in our atmosphere and blue light is the most common color of light that is reflected by those particles in our atmosphere. But at sunrise or sunset, the sun is on the horizon and the light from the sun has a farther distance to travel before it reaches our eyes. The red and yellow colors of light are scattered the least by the particles in our atmosphere. As the light from the sun takes its long journey to our eyes at sunset, all of the blue light gets scattered out first and then by the time the light reaches our eyes, the red and yellow colors of light are all that’s left to scatter so we see those colors.

Picture this… you have a big bag full of skittles. You don’t have a lot of time to eat them so you only pick out your favorite ones, the blue ones (representing the blue scattered light). Later you have a long time to sit on the couch, watch Netflix, and eat your humongous bag of skittles. Since you have so much time, you have already eaten all of the blue ones so now you are forced to eat some of your least favorite colors like red, yellow, and orange (representing the red, yellow and blue scattered light). Just like you eating your bag of skittles, the atmosphere has already scattered all of the blue light there is to scatter before it hits your eyes and all that’s left to scatter is the red colors.

 

First the Lightning, then the Thunder:

Have you ever witnessed a thunder storm from a distance and noticed that you can see the lightning way before you can hear the thunder? Ok, so maybe this one is a bit more obvious and isn’t really a magic trick light plays on us… But it still plays into the unique abilities of light. Light travels significantly faster than sound.

As lightning strikes, it opens up a pocket in the air and the loud crack of thunder is created from that pocket collapsing in on itself once the light from the lightning is gone. We see the lightning before we hear the thunder because light travels way faster than sound. In fact, sound travels at a sluggish pace of 340 meters per second through air while light approaches speeds of 300 million meters per second as it travels through various mediums. To put this into perspective, a cheetah can run at a speed of about 30 meters per second once it gets up to speed. Not only is light tricky, but its “lightning fast” too!

lighted string lights
Photo by Nita on Pexels.com

A Word on Bioluminescence:

Some plants and animals can make their own light. They carry this light with them wherever they go. They do not get this light from the sun and they don’t need to charge their batteries by plugging in somewhere. Their light is a chemical light created from chemicals their bodies produce naturally. The ability to produce your own light is a process called bioluminescence. Most of the time, this happens from a molecule of oxygen reacting chemically with a molecule called luciferin, then an enzyme called luciferase takes over from there helping to produce the light. All of that happens inside of the organism’s body! This kind of light is arguably the most energy efficient form of light on Earth.

One of my favorite animals that uses bioluminescence is called the railroad worm. This is not really a worm at all. It is a beetle. The railroad worm produces two different colors of light. Its body can produce a greenish-yellow color of light (representing the train cars of a railroad train) which is used to warn predators of its toxicity. Its head can produce a red light (representing the headlight of the railroad train) which is thought to aid in locating and eating of prey.

Check out these awesome articles and learn more about some really cool bioluminescent organisms.

https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2018/06/bioluminescent-animals-living-fireworks/

https://lifescienceexplore.wordpress.com/2013/12/31/10-awesome-land-creatures-that-can-glow/

 

Word of the Week: “Bioluminescence”–The biochemical production of light by living organisms.

If you read this whole blog post, you are my hero! Thanks for reading. Please feel free to leave me a comment and feedback below. Also, let me know if there is any particular science topic you would like me to look at “through green tinted glasses” and I will write about it.