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U.S. Air Force via Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
U.S. Air Force via Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

The Chemical Difference Between Red, Yellow, and Green Bell Peppers

U.S. Air Force via Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
U.S. Air Force via Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

We’re going to let you in on a little secret: A green bell pepper is just an unripe yellow pepper, which is just an unripe red pepper (though some varieties ripen to yellow, not red). The same is true for green olives, which are unripe black olives, and the seeds inside green beans are just regular beans that haven’t grown up yet. The produce section is apparently full of lies.

The differences in bell pepper taste, appearance, and aroma are not genetic but chemical, as the ripening process releases a series of colorful, delicious natural compounds. 

As the latest great infographic from Compound Interest shows, peppers do go through three distinct traffic-light stages, each with its own chemical components. In its green form, a pepper is especially plant-like, packed with chlorophyll and “green-smelling” aldehydes. Yellow and orange peppers take their color from lutein and beta-carotene, the chemicals responsible for the sunny and orange hues of egg yolks and carrots, respectively. As a pepper reddens, it begins producing more (E)-2-hexenal and (E)-2-hexanol, which give it a sweet, fruity smell.

Want to watch your own peppers change color? You can leave them to ripen on the plant in your vegetable patch, if you've got one, or you can bring them in (or buy them) and store them in a perforated bag or box in a dark, cool room for a few weeks.

Click the infographic to get a more detailed look.

Image credit: Compound Interest // CC BY-ND 4.0

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Animals
Switzerland Just Made It Illegal to Boil Live Lobsters
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No, lobsters don’t scream when you toss them into a pot of boiling water, but as far as the Swiss government is concerned, they can still feel pain. The path most lobsters take to the dinner plate is supposedly so inhumane that Switzerland has banned boiling lobsters alive unless they are stunned first, The Guardian reports.

The new law is based on assertions from animal rights advocates and some scientists that crustaceans like lobsters have complex nervous systems, making death by boiling incredibly painful. If chefs want to include lobster on their menus, they’re now required to knock them out before preparing them. Acceptable stunning methods under Swiss law include electric shock and the “mechanical destruction” of the lobster’s brain (i.e. stabbing it in the head).

The government has also outlawed the transportation of live lobsters on ice or in icy water. The animals should instead be kept in containers that are as close to their natural environment as possible until they’re ready for the pot.

Proponents of animal rights are happy with the decision, but others, including some scientists, are skeptical. The data still isn’t clear as to whether or not lobsters feel pain, at least in the way people think of it. Bob Bayer, head of the University of Maine’s Lobster Institute, told Mental Floss in 2014 that lobsters “sense their environment, but don’t have the intellectual hardware to process pain.”

If you live in a place where boiling lobsters is legal, but still have ethical concerns over eating them, try tossing your lobster in the freezer before giving it a hot water bath. Chilling it puts it to sleep and is less messy than butchering it while it’s still alive.

[h/t The Guardian]

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Food
Hate Red M&M's? You Need a Candy Color-Sorting Machine
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You don’t have to be a demanding rock star to live a life without brown M&M's or purple Skittles—all you need is some engineering know-how and a little bit of free time.

Mechanical engineering student Willem Pennings created a machine that can take small pieces of candy—like M&M's, Skittles, Reese’s Pieces, etc.—and sort them by color into individual piles. All Pennings needs to do is pour the candy into the top funnel; from there, the machine separates the candy—around two pieces per second—and dispenses all of it into smaller bowls at the bottom designated for each variety.

The color identification is performed with an RGB sensor that takes “optical measurements” of candy pieces of equal dimensions. There are limitations, though, as Pennings revealed in a Reddit Q&A: “I wouldn't be able to use this machine for peanut M&M's, since the sizes vary so much.”

The entire building process lasted from May through December 2016, and included the actual conceptualization, 3D printing (which was outsourced), and construction. The entire project was detailed on Pennings’s website and Reddit's DIY page.

With all of the motors, circuitry, and hardware that went into it, Pennings’s machine is likely too ambitious of a task for the average candy aficionado. So until a machine like this hits the open market, you're probably stuck buying bags of single-colored M&M’s in bulk online or sorting all of the candy out yourself the old fashioned way.

To see Pennings’s machine in action, check out the video below:

[h/t Refinery 29]

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