Friday, April 13, 2012

Ultraviolet Sight


The spectrum of light that we and most mammals can see is called visible light.  There is, however, one mammal that can perceive more than that.  They can see ultraviolet light.

The animal in question is a reindeer.  Because of the snow they must spend so much of their time in, they seem to have developed the ability to see the ultraviolet light that reflects off the snow (and cause the effect known as snow blindness in humans).  Not only does this prevent them from being blinded, but they also use it to spot things other animals would miss.  For example, urine and fur of other animals appear as black on an ultraviolet camera, thereby highlighting it against the background.

Snow blindness is caused because the human eye is not equipped to deal with UV light.  So when an overdose of it does occur, the cornea and lens take the damage and causes the (mostly) temporary effect.

However, reindeer seem to somehow prevent the damage to the eyes that humans would take.  And if they can somehow stop it, perhaps we can replicate it.

No comments:

Post a Comment