Humans giving off light

Today, I came across a very interesting article that I have to share. It was posted last summer on the LiveScience website and just found its way to me. It’s titled Strange! Humans Glow in Visible Light.

It looks like scientists in Japan have been able to develop cameras sensitive enough to capture images of visual light emitted from people. The article first states:

The human body literally glows, emitting a visible light in extremely small quantities at levels that rise and fall with the day, scientists now reveal.

I don’t find this strange, but rather view it as it’s about time. If you look back at a previous article that I wrote, Is food another form of light?, you’ll notice that when the body breaks down sugars (or any other molecule that has stored energy) the process releases electromagnetic energy (light). Thus, if the body is constantly breaking down sugar, it’s constantly emitting light, which should be measurable (in some way).

Thus, the scientists went to work to measure the emitted light:

To learn more about this faint visible light, scientists in Japan employed extraordinarily sensitive cameras capable of detecting single photons. Five healthy male volunteers in their 20s were placed bare-chested in front of the cameras in complete darkness in light-tight rooms for 20 minutes every three hours from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. for three days.

The researchers found the body glow rose and fell over the day, with its lowest point at 10 a.m. and its peak at 4 p.m., dropping gradually after that. These findings suggest there is light emission linked to our body clocks, most likely due to how our metabolic rhythms fluctuate over the course of the day.

Faces glowed more than the rest of the body. This might be because faces are more tanned than the rest of the body, since they get more exposure to sunlight — the pigment behind skin color, melanin, has fluorescent components that could enhance the body’s miniscule light production.

So they too might see the connection between digestion and body glow. But here they hide that connection in the fancy term metabolic rhythms.

Yet, I have to wonder about the article’s author’s reference to why the faces give off more light. I would guess that it would have to do with nerve endings or brain activity. The face is just one side of the head. Did they attempt the same experiment having the person face away from the camera? I would be willing to bet that they’d get a similar reading. In which case, the finding would have nothing to do with faces are more tanned, but maybe something like, the brain gives off more light.

It’s good to see articles like this. The body does release light, but I’m still waiting for them (some scientist somewhere) to make the connection between how plants store sunlight in the form of sugar to how the body releases the light as it breaks down the sugar. Or, more importantly, does the body run on sugar or … light?

One day we shall see.

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