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Saturday, April 17, 2010

This Day in Science History - April 17 - Giovanni Riccioli

The Moon has its own unique geography. We have names for the smooth dark areas like Mare Serenitatis and Mare Tranquillitatus, otherwise known as the Sea of Serenity and Sea of Tranquility. The craters have names like Tycho, Copernicus and Archimedes.




One man is largely responsible for these names, Giovanni Riccioli celebrates his birthday today. Riccioli was one of the most prominent astronomers of his time and created a detailed atlas of the Moon. His names for the Maria and craters have lasted to current times.

Do Goldfish Turn White in the Dark?


My kids were making dinner the other night and asked me about a fun fact they read on the side of a box of fish filets. The 'fact' said goldfish kept in the dark will turn white. Both the chemistry and biology of fish color are pretty complex. Fish color can change in response to their environment (including lighting), heredity, diet, age, and other factors. The color changes range from temporary to permanent. The fun fact was an oversimplification. Your goldfish would become pale from lack of light, but unless you either starve it or feed it foods lacking pigments, it won't turn white.


Learn more about goldfish colors...

Why Students Fail Chemistry

The semester is nearing its end at many schools. Are you concerned you may not pass your chemistry class? It's not too late to learn the concepts or to make a change in your study habits. Knowing reasons why students fail may help you avoid making the same mistakes.

Top Ways to Fail a Chemistry Class
Avoid these mistakes to help ensure success in your chemistry class.



1. Don't Show Up


Possibly one of the easiest ways to ensure failure is to not attend class. It's possible to teach yourself chemistry without ever setting foot in a classroom, but learning a subject isn't the same as passing a class. If you don't put in the time, you probably won't know what is expected of you for exams. You won't know what problem sets are due. You can't do labs if you aren't there. Even if there isn't an attendance policy, it helps to put in face-time.

Do Debbie Meyer and Evert Fresh Green Bags Work?

Debbie Meyer Green Bags and Evert-Fresh Green Bags are a storage product advertised as capable of keeping produce fresh for up to 30 days. They are plastic bags that contain zeolite that absorbs ethylene gas. Plants use ethylene as a hormone. One of its actions is to ripen fruit, so if you can reduce the concentration of ethylene around an apple, for example, it shouldn't get over-ripe and mushy as quickly.



Do Green Bags work? Well... they probably do lower the levels of ethylene inside the plastic bag, so if you are comparing how long fruits and vegetables stay fresh in Green Bags as compared with other plastic bags, you might see an improvement. Or you might not, since ripening is not necessarily why produce spoils. Strawberries and raspberries, for example, usually mold long before the fruit itself goes bad. Most produce really shouldn't be stored in plastic bags, so if you really want to extend its shelf life, leave the produce in the open (tomatoes and bananas) or use paper bags or loosely-wrapped damp paper towels. Some people have reported good results with Green Bags for certain types of produce, such as apples and peppers. I am unaware of anyone who has gotten the bags to preserve produce for the full 30 days.


Would I buy them? No, because my kids eat everything I bring into the house within three days. If I didn't have kids and if the bags were effective, then I would consider the expense. Generally speaking, however, the shelf life of most produce is reduced by storing it in plastic, zeolite or no zeolite, because the humidity inside the bag is so high. You can help your produce last by keeping it cool and by allowing air circulation, which naturally reduces ethylene and other plant hormone levels in the air.



Have you tried Green Bags? Feel free to post a comment to share your experiences with other readers.

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