By BASF Jr. Reporter Jakob Ware, Chapel Hil , NC
with the most
At least once in your life you have bit en into a pepper.
capsaicin are
Not just any pepper, but a spicy one. As you jump up
the seeds and
and down in pain and drink cup after cup of water,
ribs inside.
the last thing on your mind is "How is this happening?"
In 1912, a
Now, after the pain is gone, you may wonder just that.
chemist named
If you want to find out, read on! If not, wel you're
Wilbur Scovil e
going to regret that choice later.
created the Scovil e Heat Scale to measure the
Al peppers, from sweet bel peppers to spicy habanero
amounts of capsaicin in peppers. At the bottom of
peppers, al belong to the food family of Capsicum.
the scale is the bel pepper with a rating of zero units,
They belong to this family since they contain the
and the hottest pepper on the planet, the Trinidad
chemical capsaicin. Capsaicin is a chemical that can
Moruga Scorpion is on top. On the Scovil e Heat Scale
be painful in large amounts to mammals, including
it rates a whopping 1.2 mil ion units!
humans. It may be hard to imagine, but just like
By comparison, a jalapeņo pepper only rates five
animals, the pepper plant evolved capsaicin to avoid
thousand units. When a Trinidad Moruga Scorpion
being eaten. But as the pepper plants evolved so did
pepper is eaten, it first does not hurt, but then it builds,
the animals which ate them. To this day, this evolution
and builds, and builds in spiciness. People who eat
this pepper sweat buckets of sweat and have many
If you were to eat the same spicy pepper every day,
taste buds destroyed.
you would eventual y develop a resistance to the
Also the mouth and tongue stay numb for DAYS
certain amount of spiciness in that pepper.
which makes talking difficult. In the end, it's
For any pepper, size matters. The smal er the pepper,
probably best to stick to any pepper other than
the more capsaicin per bite. In al peppers, the areas
the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion pepper!
this bal of string, approximately 60 degrees
Celsius, they start being thrown around; and when
By BASF Jr. Reporter Chris Delaney, Wilmington, DE
wound-up string starts to be thrown around, the
As I cracked open an egg and mixed it in a bowl
string unravels. In egg science those proteins are
for my breakfast, I couldn't help but think of the
being denatured, which is when the proteins are
science behind the mysterious mixture inside.
unwinding. Several chemicals in the mixture start
How does the clear liquid, or albumen, in an egg
to bond the many unwound proteins to one another,
change to squishy and white when heated? It real y
creating more of a solid product than a syrup-like
is a simple process; the extremely smal curled up
consistency. This process happens in al types of
proteins in the clear liquid heat up and uncurl to
cooked eggs, including scrambled, hard-boiled,
create the fluffy omelet that we are al familiar with. soft-boiled, and omelets. So the next time you grab
The science of this can be explained by imagining
an egg to make a delicious and healthy breakfast,
the curled up proteins (cal ed globular proteins) as
just think of the amazing science experiment you
wound-up bal s of string. When heat is applied to
are experiencing right in front of your eyes!