Chlorophyll Extraction

I tried another experiment last night. I had heard somewhere that if you boil green leaves, you can extract the chlorophyll from them when can then be excited by exposure to light, making the solution ‘glow’ as electrons move around. So I dutifully went out, gathered several leaves and put them in a beaker, which I heated over my Bunsen burner.

Note to self: Get new Bunsen Burner. After heating it for about 20 minutes and it still hadn’t boiled, I decided a new tactic was necessary.

Note to self: Buy more Denatured Alcohol.

I poured some of the liquid into a test tube, and added some of the leaves. Now the water started boiling pretty quickly. The water wasn’t getting any greener, though. After observing it boil for a while, I decided it was as good as it was going to get, and cut the flame. Then I removed the leaves, and exposed the final solution to a light source.

I was underwhelmed, to say the least.

There are several possibilities I have thought of as to what went wrong:

  1. Boiling leaves is not an efficient method of chlorophyll extraction. Can be fixed by discovering a more efficient method.
  2. I didn’t allow the leaves to boil long enough and need to be more patient.
  3. My light source (a flashlight) was either not powerful enough, or did not give out light in the right part of the electro-magnetic spectrum.
  4. My original hypothesis, that extracted chlorophyll will glow when exposed to a light source, is wrong.
  5. Yet to be discovered.

A cursory search on google and I discovered that my original hypothesis appears to be correct, but my methods are lacking. At least I know I’m on the right track.

I’m purposely avoiding looking at how other people have done this in the past. I want to work it out on my own. Who knows what I might figure out along the way?

First, I’m going to try to find a better method of chlorophyll extraction. Alcohol might be a better choice than water, or perhaps an acid or base. I’ll also try boiling leaves in water for a longer period of time.

Second, I’ll find different light sources, perhaps a UV light source, like a black light, and an IR light source (a remote control perhaps?).

I think I’ll also try to locate some thicker leaves than the ones I’m using. Perhaps elm’s just aren’t a good source.

If I’m only changing one variable at a time, I’ll be busy for a while!

Cool Town and Great Store

On Saturday I ventured out of my apartment to a place in Kansas City I’ve not been before: Parkville. I’ve been near it, but never in it. I’ve been missing out. This is a charming little town, right on the missouri River and smack dab in the middle of the KC Metro area, but strangely isolated. The town only has about 5,000 people in it, so it’s small, but it’s home to Park University, which I wish I had known about before. Of course, as a private institution, it would have been out of my price range, but still, it looks like such a nice place.

Saturday was a nice day, and there were people milling about, I really got the whole small town feeling. But I wasn’t there to just check the town out; I was a man on a mission. About a week ago, I heard about this store, called the H.M.S. Beagle. I had posted to a local freethought group about available local amatuer science clubs, and someone mentioned this store. If only I had known about it before… This store isn’t like those dinky ’science’ store like the Discover Channel store. Those stores sell little more than ’science toys.’ This is the real deal. And it’s a nice looking store as well.

They have glassware, Science and Technical books (new, used, and rare). A ton of telescopes. Geological tools. Slides. Chemistry Sets. Kids science clubs. Adult science clubs. The people who work there all have backgrounds in science (either already have a degree, or a student working towards a degree). I talked to the owner, and he informed me that they can order anything they don’t already have, including… dissection specimans! Dissections have always given me the willies in the past, but now I’m actually looking forward to doing one. That’s a ways off in the distance, though. There’s probably a bunch of legalities I need to find out about, too.

They also supply chemicals, which would have been wonderful to know while I was making my movie over the summer. Well, a nice person supplied me with some Sodium anyway. Thanks again, nice person!

I don’t yet have the resources to start working on my lab, but next month, I ought to. It’s probably a good thing, because I need to have some idea of some specific things I want to do first. Right now, some bacterial cultures are on the list, but I won’t get a microscope until Christmas time, so I should probably hold off on that. There was a neat little book at the store called ‘Grandads Wonderful Book of Chemistry,’ that may offer some pointers. The biology book I’m working on has been great so far, but I’ve not gotten too in depth yet. I want to finish Gödel, Escher, Bach first. (BTW, if you haven’t read GEB, then I highly recommend it.)