Blindsided by science, chemistry
Saturday, June 29, 2013 8:02 PM
You just never know when a science or chemistry lesson or two is going to break out.
There's always time to learn something new, and science is one of the more interesting ways to expand your knowledge.
I woke up the other morning and noticed the water in a vase with white roses in it had turned, well, dark - really dark. To be honest, the water was black.
The roses were still alive and doing well sitting on the kitchen counter, close to the sink. I looked at them for a while trying to figure out what happened to make the water go dark.
I almost Googled to find out. I was about to call our Clemson Extension Agent, James Hodges. I'd already bothered him earlier in the week about what makes peach pits split.
I got busy and forgot about the water until I went back into the kitchen. Not knowing what happened, I took the flowers from the vase and dumped the water down the drain. I rinsed the vase, added new water and put the flowers back in.
It was later that evening when things started to get pieced together.
I was asked what happened to the water in the vase by a rather curious son. I played along with it. First, I asked him what water he was asking about. With a larger than usual grin he looked at the roses.
I asked why he was concerned about the water the roses were sitting in. After some poking and prodding, he said I ruined it. At that moment, I had no idea what I ruined. Then, I started getting drilled with questions. What happened with the water that was in the vase? Why did I touch it? When did I change it? Why did I ruin it?
It seems someone was trying to see if colored water would actually make the roses change color. After heading to the cabinet and then to the flowers, my son squeezed several drops of food coloring into the water. In a matter of seconds, the water was the same shade it was earlier in the day.
Within about 15 minutes, there were several spots in the roses that were starting to change colors. The spots were becoming what looked like dark green or black.
Here's what's happening. The vascular system in the stem (xylem and phloem) carries the color to the petals and changes their color.
I've been told it works best with white flowers. Carnations work well, too.Ever been scared by an unexpected gun shot? How about by a water bottle cap being fired?
Be sure to save the bottle top from the water bottle you are drinking from. Finish the water and put the cap back on. Start twisting the bottle around where the indent is, somewhere below the label.
Make sure you twist it a lot. What you're doing is building up air pressure in the bottle. Once you've twisted it enough, you need to flick the bottle top. It should shoot off the bottle and make a loud pop.
The water bottle cap shooter can be used twice. The second time the cap doesn't fly as far and the pop isn't as loud.
Thank goodness no one was hurt during this demonstration.
It seems I'm living with my own Mr. Wizard.
P.S. Ever wonder why some peach pits are split when you buy them? My dad did. He was visiting recently and on his way from New Jersey, he stopped in Gaffney and bought some Palmetto State peaches for everyone to enjoy. He reminds everyone in the Garden State that South Carolina grows more peaches than any other state, including the Peach State, Georgia.
Instead of Googling, I went right to our most knowledgeable source, Mr. Hodges. This is what he wrote back to me.
"The cause of pit breakage or splitting is poorly understood, but is prevalent in early peaches and certain later maturing cultivars.
"The early peaches, which are now at markets, have more trouble because the pit and seed don't always have time to fully develop and harden before the fruit finishes growing and ripens (causing extra pressure which can separate the pit).
"Most early varieties are clings, so the strong attachment of flesh to pit contributes to the problem.
"Later varieties are cling free, so the pits have time to lignify or harden and separate better from the flesh as the fruit ripens. Less problems with pit problems.
"Easier to peel and eat. too.
"Freezes that reduce peach numbers and excessive rainfall in the later stages of fruit growth (this year) can aggravate the pit breakage problem."
Thank you, Mr. H.
Sitarz can be reached at 943-2529 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Views in this column are those of the writer only and do not represent the newspaper's opinion.