How I do enjoy browsing IFLScience in my free time.
Apparently, it has been common knowledge for years amongst children that crunching on mints with your mouth open in the dark is a very fun practice. IFLScience assumed that many people already new this, and so went on to explain the scientific principles behind why this is amusing.
[C]rushing a Wint-O-Green Lifesaver mint with a hammer can produce an optical phenomenon known as triboluminescence. This roughly means “friction-light” and refers to the light that is generated due to the breaking of chemical bonds when materials are smashed, rubbed, or scratched.
Waait a minute. Mints light up in the dark??!! How did I not know about this! This sounds exactly like the kind of thing I would do as a kid.
OK so now that we’re on the subject, why does this happen?
“When the sugar is cracked, electrical charge is separated, positive from negative, and when there is a big enough charge accumulation (electric field) the electrons jump through the air in the crack, colliding with and exciting the nitrogen molecules as they do.”
IFLScience follows this explanation up with a super slow motion video of smashing mints, which pretty much just blew my mind.
OK, that settles it. I may be fast approaching my 30th birthday, but I am gathering up a few friends, buying every kind of hard mint available in the supermarket, going home and turning off all the lights. This has got to be investigated, personally.
Maybe I should tell my friends what I’m up to though… they might get a little worried without some context.