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The Weird Science of Bioluminescence

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The Weird Science of Bioluminescence

The Weird Science of Bioluminescence is definitely an intriguing subject, and one that most of us cannot resist! Though we know this natural form of light is the result of a chemical reaction within a living organism, it is hard to pass up a glance at one of these illuminated critters, an perhaps gain a little more knowledge about how they produce their weird, glowing light.

A form of Chemiluminescence, which means a chemical reaction where light is produced, Bioluminescence, is simply Chemiluminescence that occurs inside a living organism. The coloring of bioluminescent organisms is determined by the arrangement of luciferin molecules, an enzyme or chemical which is the catalyst that makes bioluminescence possible. This is the reason why some bioluminescent organisms display a green colored light, while others display a yellow colored light.

Weird Science Bioluminescence

Some marine animals do not actually produce the light themselves; instead they absorb Luciferin by eating or hosting bioluminescent organisms in their bodies. The squid for example, houses bioluminescent bacteria in its’ light organs, forming a symbiotic relationship with the bacteria.

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Some Bioluminescence Facts:

  •  The light produced by Bioluminescence generates little heat, in fact, less than 20% of the light produces heat, thus it is known as “cold light”.
  • The ocean is home to most of the worlds’ bioluminescent organisms, including certain types of jellies, bacteria, fish and plankton.
  • Bioluminescent plankton can sometimes cause the normally dark ocean to glow or sparkle at night.
  • The firefly is a land dwelling organism that generates bioluminescence, and there are also fungi, such as mushrooms that are bioluminescent as well.

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This fascinating form of light is as weird as it is beautiful, and even though we may understand how it is produced, it will most likely always be a captivating curiosity for mankind to ponder. Surely bioluminescence must have been thought provoking for ancient man; imagine what our ancestors might have thought when they came across a glowing cluster of mushrooms!

bioluminescent Mushrooms Fungi

Despite our current scientific knowledge of this natural occurrence of light, or perhaps because of it, The Weird Science of Bioluminescence is sure to continue to spark imagination, and leave us mesmerized!

The Weird Science of Bioluminescence

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Image Credits (In Order of Appearance)
Header Image Credit: cowbite via photopin cc
edenpictures via photopin <a
robertpaulyoung via photopin cc
photo credit: cowbite via photopin cc
lightmatter via photopin cc
Kristine Paulus via photopin cc

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