Local/State

"Glow: Living Lights" at the Academy of Natural Sciences

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Take a walk through a park or sit in your own back yard after dark and you'll probably notice fireflies. We take their green glow for granted, but scientists at the Academy of Natural Science don't.

That light phenomenon is the rationale for "Glow: Living Lights", the featured exhibit of the summer at the museum. Scientists tell us nine out of ten creatures which dwell in mid-ocean have some sort of self-contained light source.

It might be a means of attracting food. or a mate. Or it could enable the animal to hide from predators. These creatures are called "bioluminescent". But the exhibit also has pretenders...animals which don't actually make their own light.

Scorpions are called "fluorescent" because they light up when otherwise-invisible ultraviolet light shines on them. Scientists aren't exactly sure why.

They theorize that fluorescence might help scorpions know when it's safe to go out and hunt. Different scorpions light up with a different color, by the way.

Some animals in "Glow" are real and live. Many others are representations, and some are shown larger than life so you'll appreciate what their bodies can do.

There are interactive exhibits kids always enjoy. The presentation is such that young visitors will enjoy it, while mom and dad will learn as much of the underlying science as they like. Kids have unique opportunities to put on glow-in-the-dark costumes created just for this exhibit, and even to pretend they're "trapped" in a bug jar.

"Glow" is free with your regular admission. For information, access Academy of Natural Sciences, or phone 215-299- 1000. The Academy is a partner of Drexel University. It's located at 19th and Ben Franklin Parkway and is open daily.

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