Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Halloween Trickery, or Things that Glow Under Black Lights

At work, we have a black light. We also have water beads (aka, water marbles, warblettes, Orbeez, and many other names). We also have a quinine solution. In other words, I work at a pretty awesome place.

Quinine Soaked Water Beads Under Black Light
We soaked the water beads in our quinine solutions until they swelled (though not as much as they swelled in regular water and we're not sure why yet--that will require more experimenting) and then we held them under the black light, hoping that they'd absorbed the quinine, which glows under black light.
There are about 1/3 the size of beads soaked in plain water
Indeed, we had little glow-under-black-light pearls.

Fantastic. We plan to make up a whole bunch of these and put them in a glass bowl or vase of some sort and keep them under a black light in honor of Halloween. Who wouldn't love this*? We also plan to make petroleum jelly glow under black light (smiley faces have been on the back of my hand for several days), write things with yellow highlighters in the black light area. If only we had an emperor scorpion...

Look closely! Little halos around the spots!
But we do have bananas--whether we'll use them on Halloween, I don't know (but it would be pretty excellent to do so just because it's something that most people in the U.S. have easy access to). I wouldn't have guessed bananas glow under black light, but that's exactly what happens (you didn't expect me to somehow still make this food related, did you?). As the chlorophyll breaks down, it releases fluorescent chlorophyll carabolites. As brown spots start to appear, little blue halos form around the dying tissues (aka those brown spots). The bananas I had access to didn't show this super-well, but for your viewing pleasure, I've included an image.

In other fun news about food under black lights, we had broccoli in the work fridge and under a black light it glows a dark red--to dark for me to get a clear picture of, but if you've got dark, leafy greens (or cruciferious greens) and a black light, you should put them under it. I'm thinking that this would be a pretty sweet party trick -- put the salad under a black light (who needs it to be Halloween?) and watch your guests reactions.

Glowing pyramid of water beads
*If you're planning to do something similar, make sure you give the water beads (or even just use them as "eyeballs" for blindfolded storytelling or a "what's in the bowl?" game) at least 8 hours to soak and absorb liquid.

No comments:

Post a Comment