triboluminescence is an optical phenomenon in which light is generated when material is pulled apart, ripped, scratched, crushed, or rubbed through the breaking of chemical bonds in the material. the phenomenon is not fully understood, but appears to be caused by the separation and reunification of electrical charges. the term comes from the greek τριβείν (to rub) and the latin lumen (light). ~ wikipedia

i have read that this can be observed if you break wint-o-green mints (lifesavers) in the dark – and guess what?!  out of curiosity and boredom, i tried to “experiment” to witness this extraordinary occurrence.  i have a pack of wint-o-greens, took one of these mints with me inside my bathroom with the lights off and broke it by crushing the candy with a metal spoon on the countertop of the sink.  so, did it spark?  nope – then i found out that i have to let my eyes adjust in the dark first!  haha!  fail!  on my second try, i waited for a while and this time rubbed together the two broken pieces of the ring-shaped mint candy and whoa!  specks of blue-green light were detected!

the wintergreen flavor (methyl salicylate) of wint-o-green mints has the characteristic of being fluorescent, thus emitting light through friction.

.. and i therefore conclude that this was the result of my boredom.  lmao!

2 responses to “triboluminescence

    • .. max, we don’t have a weekend ‘off’ here. work is per 12-hour shift, continuous for 12 weeks for a junior crew like me.

      .. and working as a medic. i’m on call 24/7!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s