Good morning all,
As I scan the science news each day, I often read articles that are interesting, and potentially useful. Less frequently do I encounter news reports that make me say 'wow!". Here is one that did.
You will recall from our sensory systems chapter that the photoreceptors in our eyes exist in several forms, and that each form is able to interact with light of some defined frequency range. Together, they give us our vision in the range of light frequencies known as "visual light". Many other organisms can detect light frequencies outside of our visual range, including infrared and ultraviolet.
This news report describes a recent advance that marries technology and neuroscience (two of my favorite topics). Here, scientists have developed molecules that act as intermediates between the light entering the eye and the light striking the photoreceptors. These molecules harvest light of one frequency, and emit it at another (the phenomenon of fluorescence). In this case, they have been designed to harvest a light frequency normally unavailable to us (and to mice), and to then emit it at a frequency to which our photoreceptors are sensitive. The effect is to allow vision under light frequencies which are not normally useful to us.
As the article notes, these experiments only have been performed in mice, to date. But, you can be sure that human applications are coming. I think that they will have to build-in some sort of kill-switch, first - a way to get rid of the molecules should they prove problematic. My guess is that they are already working on it...
Have a great rest of the weekend -