CLOSE
Original image
istock

High-Tech Light Bulbs Can Help You Study or Fall Asleep

Original image
istock

High-tech lighting companies are redefining what it means to set the mood. Innovative brands are introducing scientifically calibrated lighting, based on research about the physiological effects of different wavelengths, to the market for the first time. 

According to the New York Times, scientists have found that different wavelengths can cause real physiological changes in our bodies, impacting everything from our energy levels to our emotions. They’ve even discovered that certain wavelengths may help wounds heal faster by enhancing collagen regeneration. 

High-tech light bulbs have existed in some form for years—in hospitals, they’re used to treat jaundice in newborns—but they’ve only recently become available to the average customer. There are a range of bulbs for different functions, from lights installed in schools to help students stay alert, to the increasingly popular Sleepy Baby Bulb made by the Lighting Science Group

Designed to help infants doze through the night, the Sleepy Baby is one of several sleep-facilitating bulbs currently on the market. While exposure to traditional artificial lights can suppress production of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin, the new smart bulbs are less invasive. Rather than actively making people sleepy, they emit longer wavelength light, which interferes less with melatonin production, helping people feel naturally drowsy at night. Other companies—like Phillips, whose wi-fi-connected Hue bulb creates "lighting recipes" for different moods—are working on developing bulbs that promote alertness without blocking natural melatonin production.

Humans have long understood, at least intuitively, that different kinds of lighting can produce distinct psychological effects. For instance, there's no shortage of songs about romantic moonlit evenings. But we’re only just starting to figure out the scientific explanation for this phenomenon. As scientists continue to learn about the physiological effects of light, it’s likely so-called “smart” bulbs will become more and more sophisticated.

[h/t: New York Times]

Original image
iStock
arrow
science
Geological Map Shows the Massive Reservoir Bubbling Beneath Old Faithful
Original image
iStock

Yellowstone National Park is home to rivers, waterfalls, and hot springs, but Old Faithful is easily its most iconic landmark. Every 45 to 125 minutes, visitors gather around the geyser to watch it shoot streams of water reaching up to 100 feet in the air. The punctual show is one of nature’s greatest spectacles, but new research from scientists at the University of Utah suggests that what’s going on at the geyser’s surface is just the tip of the iceberg.

The study, published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, features a map of the geological plumbing system beneath Old Faithful. Geologists have long known that the eruptions are caused by water heated by volcanic rocks beneath the ground reaching the boiling point and bubbling upwards through cracks in the earth. But the place where this water simmers between appearances has remained mysterious to scientists until now.

Using 133 seismometers scattered around Old Faithful and the surrounding area, the researchers were able to record the tiny tremors caused by pressure build-up in the hydrothermal reservoir. Two weeks of gathering data helped them determine just how large the well is. The team found that the web of cracks and fissures beneath Old Faithful is roughly 650 feet in diameter and capable of holding more than 79 million gallons of water. When the geyser erupts, it releases just 8000 gallons. You can get an idea of how the reservoir fits into the surrounding geology from the diagram below.

Geological map of geyser.
Sin-Mei Wu, University of Utah

After making the surprising discovery, the study authors plan to return to the area when park roads close for the winter to conduct further research. Next time, they hope to get even more detailed images of the volatile geology beneath this popular part of Yellowstone.

Original image
YouTube
arrow
Animals
Why Do Female Spotted Hyenas Give Birth Through Their Pseudo-Penises?
Original image
YouTube

At the zoo, you can sometimes tell the difference between male and female animals by noting their physical size, their behavior, and yes, their nether regions. Hyenas, however, flip the script: Not only are lady spotted hyenas bigger and meaner than their male counterparts, ruling the pack with an iron paw, they also sport what appear to be penises—shaft, scrotum, and all.

"Appear" is the key word here: These 7-inch-long phalluses don't produce sperm, so they're technically really long clitorises in disguise. But why do female hyenas have them? And do they actually have to (gulp) give birth through them? Wouldn't that hurt … a lot?

The short answers to these questions are, respectively, "We don't know," "Yes," and "OW." Longer answers can be found in this MinuteEarth video, which provides the full lowdown on hyena sex. Don't say we didn't warn you.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios