Scorpions and waterfalls

During the study of the scorpions shining in the dark, David Van Vranken of the University of California made an interesting discovery. A protein contained in the skin of these scorpions is oxidized and retained giving the skin the hardness necessary for its protection. When forming the network, the energy levels of the external electrons of the protein to move increase, allowing to absorb ultraviolet light.

This absorbed energy is emitted as visible light and hence the ability to flash in the dark.

Striped scorpions (Centruroides vittatus) irradiated with ultraviolet rays emit a 450 nm wavelength blue light. David Van Vranken managed to extract the compound that makes this emission possible from the scorpion surface and discovered that it was a beta-carbolino, the same that occurs when the proteins of the human eyes become entangled and cataracts form.

The formation of cataracts is a slow and complex process that generates great difficulties for research, but the process of superficial penetration of scorpions is much faster.

Analyzing this process can help researchers understand cataract formation.

Eusko Jaurlaritzako Industria, Merkataritza eta Turismo Saila