Friday, December 7, 2007

Website of the Week: Infrared Zoo

See animals in a whole new light at this week’s website, Infrared Zoo.

Humans only see a small portion of the light spectrum. What we see is known as visible light. Infrared is the portion of the light spectrum that includes heat emissions. Normally, we can’t tell whether most things are hot or cold just by looking at them, but these photos were taken with a special camera.

Some animals, like pit viper rattlesnakes, perceive infrared light. This ability is thought to help them detect and catch prey. Be sure to visit the Warm and Cold-Blooded page for an eye-catching comparison of what it means to be a warm or cold-blooded animal. My favorite pictures are the ones of the warm-blooded humans holding the cold-blooded animals (a scorpion and a gecko). You can tell that the humans are regulating their body temperatures because “colder” colors are visible along the outside edges of the body with “warmer” colors near the center of the body or body part. The scorpion and gecko’s body temperatures match their surroundings so they are nearly all one color – a cold one. Check out the scorpion’s tail – it is actually warmer where the person is holding it.

[Follow-up: NASA also has a great page explaining infrared light called The Electromagnetic Spectrum: Infrared Waves.]

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