Where Do Trees Come From? From Heaven or Earth?

Chemistry, Plants
Where do trees come from, from heaven or earth? This is not the philosophical discussion it might at first seem to be. Even in the Bible, heaven sometimes refers, not to the residence of the Almighty, but to that region of the atmosphere in which birds fly.¹ Do trees come from the soil or from the air? Most would probably say, “from the soil.” But is that the case? What are trees primarily made of? Largely they consist of cellulose and sugar, although there are smaller quantities of other substances. Cellulose is simply sugar molecules linked together with the loss of a single molecule of water between each sugar molecule. The molecules that build up a tree are carbon-based. There are traces of other substances, but only traces. For instance,…
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Why Sulfuric Acid Turns Sugar Black

Sugar is white. Sulfuric acid is colorless. So how is it sulfuric acid turns sugar black? Table sugar is actually two sugars in one—a disaccharide. It is commonly known as sucrose. Sucrose is a combination of fructose, a sugar found in fruits, and glucose, known also as blood-sugar, grape-sugar, and corn-sugar. Its chemical formula is C₁₂H₂₂O₁₁. The way these atoms are attached to each other by chemical bonds determines its structural formula. In the Left Corner… Most sugar from a grocery store is granular and pure white. If the grains are large enough—existing as large crystals—it is immediately apparent that sugar isn't even white; it is totally colorless and transparent. Sold at candy stores, we call it rock candy. [sc name="MidArticleAdsense"] In the Right Corner… Concentrated sulfuric acid is thick…
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Why are Some Bananas Sweeter than Others

Some bananas are sweeter than others. How is that? Having purchased the golden fruit many times, I asked myself, why are some bananas sweeter than others? You pick up a bunch of small, curly, bright yellow fruits.¹ You take them home. On the way, you remove the one with the label. You peel it most of the way down. With a few quick bites, you finish it off. You go shopping again. Displayed are large, straight bananas. You note some bananas are sweeter, while others are starchier. Banana Varieties Each variety of banana is grown for a specific end use. Some (plantains) are fried in a skillet. They are starchy. Others are raised for sweetness and aroma. Those are called dessert bananas. The most popular form of dessert banana is…
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