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Green Chemistry’s Real Roots [Video]

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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Plants mastered chemistry a long time before humans, billions of years actually. In fact, we humans and most of the rest of the life on Earth can thank tiny cyanobacteria for mastering/evolving the molecule known as chlorophyll. Chlorophyll—a pigment that absorbs blue light—is the key to photosynthesis, and photosynthesis is the key to turning sunlight into food.

Of course, photosynthesis relies on more than just chlorophyll. There’s RuBisCo, the enzyme that lets plants turn CO2 into carbohydrates, and Photosystem I and II, which employ chlorophyll to channel the sun’s energy into making sugar. Human chemistry is presently attempting to figure out a way to make these basic plant systems better. But until we do, there’s no better chemist than pond scum.

David Biello About the Author: David Biello is the associate editor for environment and energy at Scientific American. Follow on Twitter @dbiello.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.





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  1. 1. Dredd 2:29 pm 10/15/2011

    Gut microbiota are not bad at chemistry either. They help form certain brain areas. Why can’t we use them to fix politicians?

    Link to this
  2. 2. priddseren 7:26 pm 10/15/2011

    Yikes, better not let a few globam warmists I know of on the SA blogs know about this. I attempted to point out plants use CO2 from the air and make a better carbon sequestering option over the current artifical methods that result in putting atmospheric oxygen into the ground. Not acceptable to them they seem to think CO2 and plants have nothing to do with each other and this well known process was me spouting nonsense that was not science. SA even deleted the post.

    Amazing, so AS and you global warmists, which is it, do plants use CO2 or not? I must ask because according to you people only “scientists” who publish in SA and get government grants are allowed to actually tell everyone else what reality is.

    So which computer model are you fools using that shows plants using something other than CO2? Wait, I mean which model shows plants using CO2? Not sure what to ask because this article and the global warmists seem to be inconsistent on plant chemistry and how it works.

    Link to this

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