Here, imagine yourself in this scenario:
HIP HIP HOORAY! It’s Valentine’s Day!!
Your partner decides to be romantic and buy you a huge bouquet of your favourite flowers. (Guys, please pretend!)
You are super impressed and quickly place the flowers in a vase of water.
Now, the big question is – what should you add to the water to make the flowers last longer?
You take a good look around the house and finally found a couple of choices:
c) That sachet of “cut flower food” that florists provide
Hmmm. Have you made your choice?
Well, if you’ve picked any one of the options provided, your flowers will most likely survive longer than it normally would!
Are you surprised? During the recent National Science Week (NSW), students from Newton Moore Senior High School in Bunbury did a little experiment on this. They were involved in the NSW Science Fair where each participant had produced a scientific report and one of them (unfortunately not the winner) stated that the flowers would last longest if bleach was added to the water.
So the winners (in terms of longest-lasting flowers) are…
1st – Bleach
2nd – Vinegar
3rd – That sachet of ‘cut flower food’ (polysaccharide gel, such as gellan gum)
4th – Aspirin
5th – Sugar
So, why all these ingredients? The main rationale behind these ingredients is that:
- They prevent bacteria and fungal growth
- Having a little ‘sugar’ in the water will provide a source of ‘food’.
Thus, many experienced people and websites will recommend adding a combination of a few of the ingredients. (Have a look here.) Of course, there has been debate that different flowers/plants require different ingredients.
I first heard this interesting piece of information during my interview with Professor Lyn Beazley, the Chief Scientist of Western Australia. I was surprised that I wasn’t familiar with simple science like this, and realized that it all boiled down to how well science has been communicated to the public.
People may know the “solutions” to daily life problems, but do they actually know and understand the simple science behind it? What else do you think can be done to promote science?