Was it tripping to black light posters that gave me a permanent fascination with bioluminescence, the light emitted by organisms like bacteria, fireflies and jellyfish? Is it just cool to see creatures that do something I can't? Would it be awesome—or embarrassing—if you could shake your tush to light it up? Why doesn't my friend Evelyn, a graduate student in cell biology, realize she could win a Nobel, easy, if she would switch to human bioluminescence as her research topic?
Look how beautiful these critters are, & what great names: sea sparkle, ghost fungus, alarm jellyfish, sea feather, fire centipede, sea firefly, genji firefly.
There are interesting scientific aspects to bioluminescence, not just trippy ones. J. Woodland Hastings, a Harvard biochemist who died a few days ago, researched bioluminescence and was known for "recognizing overarching biological processes in the humblest of organisms. His discovery of how bacteria communicate became the foundation for groundbreaking research in the development of more effective antibiotics." (His NYT obit is at nytimes.com/2014/08/10/science/j-w-hastings-87-a-pioneer-in-bioluminescence-research-dies.html.)
I just ordered a book called The Winking, Blinking Sea.
Why do publishers seem to think this is a subject of interest only or mainly to children? Read More