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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Life’s Little Interesting Mysteries

A few weeks ago, I received an information request pondering some of those questions that nearly everyone has thought about at some time or another.  I thought I’d share a couple of them with all you readers out in blog land.

Have you ever wondered why an apple turns brown shortly after you cut it or bite into it?  While searching for an answer to this question, I found a great explanation in an article at  When an apple is bruised or cut, the injured plant tissue becomes exposed to oxygen.  According to the article, when oxygen is present in an apple’s cells, enzymes in the cells react with compounds that are naturally present in the apple’s tissues.  This reaction creates o-quinones, a colorless product that reacts with amino acids or proteins in the fruit to produce that brown color we’re all so familiar with.

But what happens to the apple after you’ve eaten it?  You know – after it’s, ahem, left your body?  Have you ever wondered what happens to waste material at a treatment plant?  Honestly, I’d never thought about it before receiving this particular information request, but the answer was enlightening, for me anyway.  According to the Environmental Protection Agency, when domestic sewage is treated at a treatment plant, it forms an untreated solid, semi-solid, or liquid residue called sewage sludge.  How’s that for a scientific name!  The sewage sludge is then treated and processed into biosolids, which can be safely recycled and used as fertilizer.  They can be, but fate of the biosolids is ultimately in the hands of local governments.  They can decide whether to recycle the biosolids, incinerate them, or bury them.

Is there a “mystery” of life that you’ve always wanted to solve but never got around to?  Let us know, and we’ll be happy to do the detective work for you!

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