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Bioluminescence ASAP!!!!

Postby bab1978 » Sat Apr 14, 2018 5:15 pm

Hi! My name is Aarush and I'm in sixth grade and am planning to do a project concerning bioluminescence patterns in fireflies and how they are effected based on a change in the circadian rhythm.

I have a few questions regarding this project:

1) The science buddies project where I got this idea uses a culture of Pyrocystis lunula. I was wondering if I could use fireflies instead... they exhibit the same bioluminescence as dinoflagellates and are readily available where I live. Is this a wise substitution to make, or will it mess up the results of my project?

2) I was planning to use a luminance meter to detect even the slightest bioluminescence periods. I was wondering if this is the smartest thing to do, or if there is an alternative (preferably, something that can record results when I'm not home)? Or, would it be easier (and just as efficient) to use a camera and hook up a live feed to my phone?

3) This is my second time doing the fair I am looking to participate in... I know that the judges will ask how my results are useful and how/how can I develop something new based off of my results? The project does provide some insight into how much of different species' lives are rooted in their circadian rhythm, and can relate to humans with jet lag. Do you think this is enough, or should I include something else? If so, any suggestions for what significance this project poses?

Thanks in advance for any input,

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Re: Bioluminescence ASAP!!!!

Postby SciB » Thu May 03, 2018 1:44 pm

Hi Aarush,

Sorry for the lack of reply. When you don't get an answer to your query within a day or so, post again. There are different experts on different days and one person may be less busy or more familiar with your project.

Fireflies are ok to use as long as your science fair guidelines allow you to do experiments with living things.

What is your hypothesis? What parameters are you going to test and how will you do the experiments?

The glow from dinoflagellates lasts longer than a firefly's flash and using a luminance meter to measure flash intensity may be difficult. If you want to study the fireflies' biorhythms you could adjust length of darkness because that is when they flash. Also, I believe the air temperature affects the flash rate, which is what you would be measuring rather than light intensity.

As for practical uses of your data, that would depend on whether you are an entomologist or an engineer. A person studying insects to learn more about their behavior or metabolism would accept your data as useful if it increased their knowledge about firefly flashing times. On the other hand, an engineer might want to try and use the same chemical reactions that a firefly uses to make light continuously only without using insects. Chemiluminescence is already being used in research labs as a way to measure certain products, but I can envision a glowing wall of light in your home produced chemically. The challenge would be how to recycle the chemicals so that the light could be continuous. However, a wall filled with 100s of flashing points of light would be beautiful and soothing and might be valuable for meditation.

Hope this helps. Post again if you have more questions.


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