Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Wednesday, July 22, 2021

We’ve got nothing on the lowly firefly, but human skin definitely emits a low-level luminosity:

Past research has shown that the body emits visible light, 1,000 times less intense than the levels to which our naked eyes are sensitive. In fact, virtually all living creatures emit very weak light, which is thought to be a byproduct of biochemical reactions involving free radicals…

The researchers found the body glow rose and fell over the day, with its lowest point at 10 a.m. and its peak at 4 p.m., dropping gradually after that. These findings suggest there is light emission linked to our body clocks, most likely due to how our metabolic rhythms fluctuate over the course of the day.

Faces glowed more than the rest of the body. This might be because faces are more tanned than the rest of the body, since they get more exposure to sunlight — the pigment behind skin color, melanin, has fluorescent components that could enhance the body’s miniscule light production.

So there might be something behind the “healthy glow” you’re supposed to maintain. Also the similar “glowing” that pregnant women carry. And is it safe to say that the metaphysical aura has some basis in this biochemical emission?

Whatever. If I can’t glow in the dark, I’ll settle for glowing in the light.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 07/22/2009 06:01pm
Category: Science
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What is it about pint-size killers like Damien from The Omen that enthrall moviegoers? Basically, it’s the stealth delivery of dreadful horror in the guise of childhood innocence, with inter-generational tensions thrown in:

Wheeler Winston Dixon, a University of Nebraska film professor who’s written about evil children in film, says the enduring appeal of demon children in horror films is the fear of the unknown.

“Children are seen as ‘blank slates’ to a degree, and also as essentially ‘unknowable,’ because they live in a world very different from the adult world, in which fantasy and reality intermingle,” he says. “Parents wonder what their children will become, and while they wish the best for them, they often feel as if they have no control over them. It is this essential lack of knowledge, and the fear that the children have a secret world which adults can’t enter, which drives our fear of childhood as a separate domain.”

Josh Heuman of Texas A&M University suggests that the movies play “on the dirty little secret that kids aren’t sweet and innocent, and the anxiety that it provokes.”

“They’re little monsters, and not necessarily in the affectionate sense,” Heuman says. “I’m thinking of my wonderful 2-year-old’s outlandish force of will, and then the ‘It’s a Good Life’ episode of ‘The Twilight Zone.’ Billy is hyperbole, but not unrealism or irony!”…

“They simply want to dominate adults, and destroy them if they thwart their plans,” [Dixon] says. “In a way, this can be seen as a reaction to the nascent rise of juvenile delinquency in the late 1950s — when American youth culture was first firmly established, along with the rise of rock ‘n’ roll, as a perceived threat to then normative postwar values.”

Interesting analysis. For what it’s worth, I’ve never taken a shine to this horror subgenre; but then, movie horror in general doesn’t appeal to me much.

It occurs to me that this movie motif extends beyond just the horror genre. The first example that comes to my mind is Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, with young Anakin Skywalker providing the budding evil presence. That one is a unique case, as the threat comes mostly from the meta-narrative of knowing just who Anakin will grow up to be; still, the concept of innocence begetting corruption shines through.

The other non-horror example I come up with is Home Alone. The comedy is all for laughs, of course, but the base idea is still there: The little kid takes control from the adults and beats them at their own game. Not that I’m one to call Macaulay Culkin inherently evil…

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 07/22/2009 05:12pm
Category: Movies, Society
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