Chromatography allows you to take a closer look at the glorious colors of autumn leaves.
Autumn leaves change colors because chlorophyll levels are reduced. These levels change because of plant hormones, called auxins, that prepare leaves to fall before snow or heavy rains in winter. This period of preparation is called senescence. The act of dropping leaves is called abscission.
Through most of the growing season, leaves are one shade of green or another. The green pigment we see is the chlorophyll used in photosynthesis. There are actually several other colors present, we just can’t see them. Chromatography gives you an inside view into those colors.
Chromatography and pepper heat
High-tech chromatography (and some crazy math) are used to rank the heat of chili peppers. The American Spice Trade Association (ASTA) measures the pungency of different samples with Scoville heat units (SHUs), as a function of capsaicin levels.
Chromatography and companion planting
While there is plenty of science to support the importance of installing plants where they will thrive, the concept of plants ‘liking’ and ‘helping’ one another is actually a failed attempt at simplifying complex processes. Back in the 1930’s, Dr. Ehrenfried Pfeiffer conducted a study he called the “sensitive crystallization method” using chromatography. Somehow, the good doctor decided that matching colors implied compatibility, which it doesn’t. But the process is very fascinating, nonetheless, so let’s get started!
Your chromatography experiment
You will need the following supplies:
Here are the steps:
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