Humans glow in the dark
2009 07 22

Guardian.co.uk

Ultra-sensitive cameras reveal that our bodies emit tiny amounts of light that are too weak for the human eye to detect

Amazing pictures of "glittering" human bodies have been released by Japanese scientists who have captured the first ever images of human "bioluminescence".


Bioluminescence at different times of day. C: 10:10. D: 13:10. E: 16:10. F: 19:10. G: 22:10. H: Changes in photon intensity from five volunteers over time. I: Thermal image of the subject. Photograph: PLoS ONE


Although it has been known for many years that all living creatures produce a small amount of light as a result of chemical reactions within their cells, this is the first time light produced by humans has been captured on camera.

Writing in the online journal PLoS ONE, the researchers describe how they imaged volunteers' upper bodies using ultra-sensitive cameras over a period of several days. Their results show that the amount of light emitted follows a 24-hour cycle, at its highest in late afternoon and lowest late at night, and that the brightest light is emitted from the cheeks, forehead and neck.

Strangely, the areas that produced the brightest light did not correspond with the brightest areas on thermal images of the volunteers' bodies.

The light is a thousand times weaker than the human eye can perceive. At such a low level, it is unlikely to serve any evolutionary purpose in humans – though when emitted more strongly by animals such as fireflies, glow-worms and deep-sea fish, it can be used to attract mates and for illumination.

Bioluminescence is a side-effect of metabolic reactions within all creatures, the result of highly reactive free radicals produced through cell respiration interacting with free-floating lipids and proteins. The "excited" molecules that result can react with chemicals called fluorophores to emit photons.

Human bioluminescence has been suspected for years, but until now the cameras required to detect such dim light sources took over an hour to capture a single image and so were unable to measure the constantly fluctuating light from living creatures.

While the practical applications of the discovery are hard to imagine, one can't help wondering what further surprises the human body has in store for us.

Article from: Guardian.co.uk



Related Articles
Illumination is the key
DNA Not The Same In Every Cell Of Body
The Placebo Effect - The Triumph of Mind over Body
The science of voodoo: When mind attacks body
Hot Swedes Use Body Heat to Heat Train Station


Latest News from our Front Page

Your Smartphone Broadcasts Your Entire Life To The Secret Service
2014 09 23
Intelligence services collect metadata on the communication of all citizens. Politicians would have us believe that this data doesn’t say all that much. A reader of De Correspondent put this to the test and demonstrated otherwise: metadata reveals a lot more about your life than you think. Ton Siedsma is nervous. He made the decision weeks ago, but keeps postponing it. ...
Scots were tricked into voting ‘No’ – Salmond
2014 09 23
London politicians gulled Scottish voters out of independence by making a false “vow” to grant Glasgow extra powers, First Minister Alex Salmond has said. He also raised the prospect of another referendum, saying the break-up is inevitable. Alex Salmond, leader of the ’Yes’ campaign and the outgoing head of the Scottish National Party (SNP), told the BBC’s Sunday Politics program that ...
The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola
2014 09 23
The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity. Suspected Ebola patient Finda “Zanabo” prays over her sick family members before being admitted to the Doctors Without Borders Ebola treatment center on Aug. 21, 2014, near Monrovia, Liberia. Photo by John Moore/Getty Images As the Ebola epidemic in West Africa has spiraled out of control, affecting thousands of Liberians, Sierra Leonians, and Guineans, ...
Man bitten by Ebola patient flown to Switzerland
2014 09 22
Swiss authorities say a male nurse who was bitten by an Ebola patient while working in West Africa has been flown to Switzerland as a precaution. The health ministry says the unidentified man was working for an international organization in Sierra Leone when he was bitten by a child infected with Ebola on Saturday. The ministry says the nurse was wearing protective ...
Climate March in New York City Reveals Communists Demanding ’Revolution, Nothing Less’ - Trash the City With Garbage
2014 09 22
Tens-of-thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of New York City Sunday to demand political leaders take action on climate change. While the protest remained peaceful, much of the “People’s Climate March” appeared to be made up of fringe elements of the political left. Dozens of signs denouncing capitalism were spotted at the demonstration, often held by self-proclaimed socialists. “Capitalism is destroying the ...
More News »