“Flowers and Colors”

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Many children have done the simple experiment of placing a cut flower in dyed water and watching as it changed color. The latest video from Beauty of Science relies on some related physics. Since the color of flowers typically depends on acidity, immersing a flower in dilute acid will change its color from pinks and purples to yellows and greens. Watching this transformation, we can learn about how fluids get transported through flowers.

Like the leaves on a tree, flowers are covered in tiny cells called stomata that can open and close. In the daytime, stomata are typically open to allow carbon dioxide to diffuse into the plant. (At the same time, water pulled up from the roots is evaporating out the stomata, as seen previously.) Once immersed in acid, the open stomata are no longer bringing in carbon dioxide; instead, the acid is diffusing in and slowly spreading through the petals. In the timelapse video, some areas of the petal change faster than others. This could indicate more open stomata in the regions that change first or even that some areas inside the petal transport water (and acid) better than others. (Video and image credit: Beauty of Science; see also Making Of)

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