How do apples turn from green to red?

Question Answered by Alana Jensen, Environmental Educator, INL ESER Program Apples on the tree all start out green. The green color of apples is due to a pigment called chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is also present in leaves and helps the plant convert sunlight into energy so it can grow. At the height of photosynthesis, during the…

We read that baking a cake involves chemistry. What chemical processes take place during the baking? (Part 2)

Question answered by Dr. Catherine Riddle, Radiochemist, Idaho National Laboratory Baking causes a chemical change in your ingredients from raw batter to cooked cakes, breads, cookies, or biscuits. Since there are multiple reactions depending on what you are baking, let’s look specifically at the chemistry that goes into baking a cake step by step. Last…

When getting coffee, the people at Starbucks ask, “Do you want to leave room for sugar and cream?” Do I need to leave space if I just add sugar?

Question answered by Catherine Riddle, PhD, Radiochemist, Idaho National Laboratory The chemistry of coffee is complex to start with so adding sugar, milk or both makes it even more so. There are many systems at work in a cup of coffee including density, inter-molecular spacing, temperature and concentration. Believe it or not, there is a…

Is coal a sedimentary rock?

Answered by Kurt Edwards, Geologist and GIS Analyst, INL ESER Program he short answer is yes, coal is a sedimentary rock. Coal is formed mainly from plant material that accumulates in a swampy environment. These plants that become coal, lived before and during the time of the dinosaurs. When the plants died they would sink…

How do things like butter and chocolate melt?

Question answered by Catherine Riddle, PhD, Radiochemist, Idaho National Laboratory Both chocolate and butter contain fat (triglycerides) which is why they melt differently than ice.  Most chocolates (especially milk-chocolate) tend to melt into this sticky (albeit delicious) mess at slightly above room temperature as does butter.  So why does this happen?  Since chocolate and butter…

We are currently studying clouds and rain. We were wondering what percentage of a cloud is actually water and what percentage of a rain cloud is dust and or other things?

Answered by Dennis Finn, Research Meteorologist, NOAA, Idaho Falls Most water in the atmosphere is in the form of water vapor, a gas. Warm air holds more water vapor than cold air. For a climate like Idaho Falls, water vapor content is typically about 0.4-0.5% in the summer and less than half of that during…