100 Days Project

Nanogirl: Star Science

Nanogirl wants to find 100 friends to do science experiments with her to prove that no matter who you are or what your education level, you can always have fun with science.

Day 31:

Cather places lasers up her nose for science

Dr Cather Simpson is the director of the photon factory and knows a lot about lasers.  She wanted to explain how we know that living tissue absorbs certain wavelengths of light and did it in a very unique way.

If you take a torch or a flashlight and shine it through your fingers, in your mouth or even up your nose, you will discover that the white light produced not only penetrates through your fingers/cheeks/nostrils but also that it glows red on the other side.  This is because white light is light that contains all the wavelengths of visible light, and our skin and tissues absorb some of the wavelengths so they don't pass through.  The light that goes through our tissues easily is red light, which is one reason why our skin glows red on the other side of the light source. The other wavelenths including the blue, green and yellow light that also make up the white light are
absorbed by the tissue and converted to heat energy, so we don't see those colours of light on the other side.

To prove this concept, Cather took two low powered lasers, one red and one green.  She then stuck one up each nostril and turned them on.  The red laser light shone through, and her nostril lit up with a red light, the green laser light was absorbed by the tissue and you couldn't see any light coming from her nostril.

I'm pretty sure this is the first time I've seen anyone with two lasers up their nose, but it did teach me about how light interacts with our body.