A common belief is that Tryptophan is attributed to lethargy and tiredness after the Thanksgiving meal. In this experiment, we measure Tryptophan in turkey meat and whole milk and then compare it to Tryptophan in a solution using fluorescence spectroscopy to see if the myth is true.

Fluorescence spectroscopy is used in a wide range of applications, from medical to fraud detection and food safety. For example, in medical applications, fluorescence is used to distinguish between healthy and cancerous tissues. In the realm of fraud and counterfeit detection, fluorescent markers are being implanted in products ranging from fuel to pharmaceuticals and even bank notes which can be measured at high speed to verify authenticity. Furthermore, fluorescence may be used in food safety techniques to detect pathogens due to their distinctive fluorescent fingerprint.

Food scientists may also use fluorescence to characterize meat and dairy products to detect constituent amino acids. One well-recognized amino acid found in dairy, fish, poultry, and other foods is L-Tryptophan, which has a detectable fluorescence from 300-400 nm. L-Tryptophan is one of 20 naturally occurring amino acids and has a peak excitation wavelength of around 280 nm and emits fluorescence from 300-400 nm. Tryptophan, along with Tyrosine and Phenylalanine, are intrinsically optically active because they are conjugated with aromatic ring-side chains

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