Why Does Chlorophyll Appear Green?

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Chlorophyll appears green because the mixture of colors in light reflect only the green color in chlorophyll and absorb the other colors. Find out how the spectrum of colors in white light creates different colors with information from a math and science teacher in this free video science lesson.

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Video Transcript

Hi I'm Steve Jones and I'm going to tell you why chlorophyll appears to be green. Now it is not just why chlorophyll appears to be green which is important but why anything appears to be green, in fact why anything appears to be any color is important. So first of all I am going to explain why things appear to be the color they are and then you will know why a leaf appears to be green. First of all light is not white. We know it is a mixture of colors and you have all seen the experiment with the prism where you project on to the wall a spectrum. The spectrum goes from red at one end to blue at the other and from that spectrum we can cut it into three rough areas and those three rough areas are called primary colors and they are red, green, and blue. Notice red, green, and blue and this is different from paint so be careful. These are the basic primary colors of light. Now therefore, here are the three surfaces. I've got a blue surface. I have got a green surface and I have got a red surface. Let's look at the blue surface first. Here are my three colors of primary colors of light. Here they are coming in, so this is white light because there is red, green, and blue. But when it hits a blue surface or a surface we see as blue it is because the blue light gets to us which means that the blue light is not absorbed so the red light is absorbed in the surface, the green light is absorbed in the surface but the blue light is reflected and that is why it looks blue. Let's go to the red surface next. Here is the red surface. Right? We have still got red, blue and green light coming in to the surface. The red this time is reflected and the surface looks red. The blue light is absorbed. The green light is absorbed. Now let's go and have a look at our leaf. Our leaf is green. Here is our green leaf. A green surface and it is a green surface because the red light that comes in, this is white light remember? It is white so it contains all three of our primary colors. So the red light is absorbed, the blue light also is absorbed but the green light is reflected. This is our green surface. This is our leaf. This is our chlorophyll in the leaf and this is why chlorophyll appears to be green.

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