16 Flashy Things You Didn't Know About Light  

Kellen Perry
656 votes 269 voters 5.3k views 16 items

List Rules Vote up the brightest light facts that taught you something new.

Light is incredibly important to just about everything on the planet. There are exceptions - especially in extreme environments - but it's safe to say that light is a pretty crucial part of our day-to-day life. But what do you really know about light? What is light, really?

An examination of the science of light reveals that it's a whole lot more than just a sunbeam across your face: light can be slowed and stopped, it can force your brain to stop making hormones, it can make you sneeze following a matinee showing of a summer movie. Some light facts are odd (clapping northern lights!) and some are weirdly comforting (all humans emit light!), but they all display just how complex such a seemingly simple topic can be. Enjoy these illuminating facts about light and dazzle your friends with them at every turn!
Crystals Generate Light When Warmed
Crystals Generate Light When W... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list 16 Flashy Things You Didn't Know About Light
Photo: Géry Parent/flickr/CC-BY-ND 2.0
It's no wonder humans have assigned magical or supernatural properties to crystals for thousands of years: they do behave in peculiar (if scientifically sound) ways, especially with regards to light. Heating up a crystal like fluorite will cause it to glow like a weak lightbulb, via a process called thermoluminescence.
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Light Can Connect You to the Internet
Light Can Connect You to the I... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list 16 Flashy Things You Didn't Know About Light
Photo: Harold Haas/pureLiFi
Your lightbulbs may soon be doing double-duty as an emitter of a high speed Internet signal. Scottish professor Harald Haas is the pioneer behind "Li-Fi," a wifi-like method of pumping the Internet through the air to your devices using LED bulbs. Paired with a solar cell, the prototype Li-Fi bulbs act as an all-in-one Internet transmitter that promises to be faster and more secure than the wifi used around the globe today.
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Humans Emit Light
Humans Emit Light is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list 16 Flashy Things You Didn't Know About Light
Photo: via Humans Are Free
Twilight fans, rejoice! Just like the shiny vampires in that teen blockbuster, humans also glimmer - we just can't see it. The glow is 1,000 times lower than we can detect with our naked eyes. Using special cameras, scientists have revealed that all humans emit light "directly and rhythmically" like walking strobe lights (albeit extraordinarily weak ones).
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Light Can Make You Sneeze
Light Can Make You Sneeze is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list 16 Flashy Things You Didn't Know About Light
Photo:  James Gathany/Wikimedia Commons
The human mind is a wonderful, complex, glorious thing - but even it makes mistakes sometimes. Regardless of your IQ, your mind can sometimes misunderstand what the world is trying to tell it. This explains why nearly a third of the population sometimes sneezes when suddenly exposed to bright light: the current theory is that the brain "mistakes" the light as a signal to sneeze instead of a signal to restrict the pupils. Oops!
Agree or disagree?