World’s Strangest

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Phasers in Early Product Development

Strong emphasis on the word “early.” A research team at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, Canada was able to temporarily stun worms with an ultraviolet light:

The animals that scientists experimented with — pinhead-sized worms known as nematodes — stayed paralyzed even when the light was turned off. When exposed to ordinary light, the paralysis wore off

The researchers fed a light-sensitive material — a “photoswitch” known as dithienylethene — to the transparent worms. When exposed to ultraviolet rays, the molecule turned blue and the worms became paralyzed. Using visible light instead made the chemical turn colorless and the paralysis ended [...]

Branda wanted to make clear that this photoswitch would likely not have the same effect on humans. “You’d have to have a huge amount of it,” he explained. “If you did, you might see the activity of cells shut down, which would eventually kill them. Paralysis is just an intermediate step to death in many cases.”

Video at the link.

Link via Discover | Image: Paramount Pictures

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November 20th, 2009

Stranger to the World


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