Andres Tretiakov spotted these fluorescent red lentils after a string of what he calls “fluorescence scavenger hunts” in his kitchen while his lab is closed during the pandemic. Under ambient light (below), red lentils are a moderate-to-dull orange, but they really pop under an ultraviolet flashlight that creates 365 nm wavelength light (above). Tretiakov, who’s a lab technician at St. Paul’s School in London, isn’t exactly sure what chemicals in the lentils produce this color. Chlorophyll and protochlorophyllide both glow orange-red, but lentils can contain a bunch of other colorful (and nutritious) plant chemicals, like carotenoids and anthocyanins.
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