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Fireflies Bring Us Brighter LEDs

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the bright-bugs dept.

Biotech 111

Zothecula writes "Fireflies have helped an international team of scientists get over 50 percent more light out of existing LED bulbs. It was discovered that in the Photuris genus of firefly, scales in the insect's exoskeleton possess optical qualities that boost the amount of bioluminescence that can shine through. Those same qualities were found to dramatically increase the light output of an LED bulb."

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intelligent design? (-1, Troll)

retroworks (652802) | about 2 years ago | (#42542887)

Mod as flamebait

Re:intelligent design? (4, Insightful)

Nyder (754090) | about 2 years ago | (#42542919)

Mod as flamebait

No, if it was intelligent design, all fireflies would have this. Since it appears only one strain of fireflies does this, it points to evolution.

Re:intelligent design? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42543007)

Perhaps evolution itself is intelligent design.

Re:intelligent design? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42543027)

Perhaps evolution itself is intelligent design.

None of this would explain your existence.

Re:intelligent design? (5, Funny)

Cryacin (657549) | about 2 years ago | (#42543043)

Now that the fireflies are popular, they will cease to exist as they will surely be axed by Fox.

Re:intelligent design? (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | about 2 years ago | (#42543579)

That's... Uh... I... I'd say something snarky in Chinese, but words fail me!

Re:intelligent design? (1)

nospam007 (722110) | about 2 years ago | (#42544261)

"Now that the fireflies are popular, they will cease to exist as they will surely be axed by Fox."

The religious Right cannot endorse something that comes from Luciferin. Lighting your home with that and you'll go straight to Hell.

Re:intelligent design? (2, Insightful)

John Da' Baddest (1686670) | about 2 years ago | (#42543109)

In other words, YOU think you know what the alleged designer had in mind, and since the result is not in your mind, therefore said designer doesn't exist. On the the other hand, if the design point of this bug was to exist in diverse forms, then mission accomplished. There now, I've evolved my design-understanding to fit the facts. Now it's your turn to design the evolution of your thought-processes accordingly.

Re:intelligent design? (4, Insightful)

CSMoran (1577071) | about 2 years ago | (#42543381)

In other words, YOU think you know what the alleged designer had in mind

No, really it's just Occam's razor. When you can explain observed facts with a simple, elegant, proved-to-death process like evolution through natural selection, bringing an omnipotent designer into the picture to explain away facts is overkill. Might as well claim the Teapot summoned the designer in the first place.

Re:intelligent design? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42543461)

Evolution is hardly simple compared to (to use the popular atheist pejorative) "goddidit".

Fortunately, Occam's Razor doesn't, and never did, say the slightest thing about what is true, rather only what is pragmatic for use when presented with otherwise-equivalent models.

Re:intelligent design? (4, Interesting)

CSMoran (1577071) | about 2 years ago | (#42543537)

Evolution is hardly simple compared to (to use the popular atheist pejorative) "goddidit".

"Goddidit" in isolation is simple. But then accounting for all the mental hoops one needs to take to create a semi-reasonable model with an omnipotent creator being, it becomes progressively more complex.

Fortunately, Occam's Razor doesn't, and never did, say the slightest thing about what is true, rather only what is pragmatic for use when presented with otherwise-equivalent models.

Of course. When presented with a choice between "this simple process did it", "an unseen creator did it, then put a lot of hints to the contrary in the ground" and more intricate theories like "the Teapot made the creator do that", it's pragmatic to choose the first one. I'm willing to change my mind when evidence that disproves evolution or evidence for intelligent creator or evidence for Teapot surfaces.

Re:intelligent design? (1)

BenJaminus (472372) | about 2 years ago | (#42543885)

Today the evidence for Jesus can be seen in people. In lives changed from being ruined to being fixed, in people serving meals at soup kitchens, in caring for others and in answered prayers of Christians.

(The Bible says that the world was made through Jesus hence intelligent creator.)

Re:intelligent design? (3, Insightful)

fatphil (181876) | about 2 years ago | (#42543923)

And in raped altarboys, and throughout Westboro Baptist Church.

You can't be selective with the data, and simply through away the data points you don't like. Well, you can, as you've clearly lost all your critical thinking skills.

Re:intelligent design? (2)

N!k0N (883435) | about 2 years ago | (#42543947)

(The Bible says that the world was made through Jesus hence intelligent creator.)

uh ... no it doesn't. Jesus was the (according to Christianity anyway) savior of mankind. God was the creator of everything. Although, granted all three (God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit) are "God", and simply make up different aspects of the Trinity as a "whole".

Re:intelligent design? (3, Informative)

Cruciform (42896) | about 2 years ago | (#42544521)

And that's if you conceniently forget that Jewish religion was previously polytheistic, and Yhwh was just but one of several annoying traits personified. In his case, war.

Re:intelligent design? (1)

JazzLad (935151) | about 2 years ago | (#42546395)

Can you cite the verse that mentions "Trinity" for me?

Re:intelligent design? (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | about 2 years ago | (#42547685)

Read John 1. Speaking of *Jesus* ("the Word"), John says that "All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made."

Re:intelligent design? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42544039)

You're seriously trying to use "science" and "evidence" to explain your faith?

There is no stronger principle in science than evolution. Because of anti-science fanatics like you, it has more support, evidence, and understanding than any single field of physical science known to man. Do you understand that? The computer you're using has less evidence for it working than evolution. Gravity is absurd compared to the depth of evidence of evolution.

If our understanding of basic science depended on it, you would sooner float off the planet than evolution would cease to be.

I'm glad you're religious if it works for you and your family. Just stay out of politics and science and you'll be fine. The moment you touch that, you become an idiot.

Re:intelligent design? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42545005)

Are you sure? I thought quantum mechanics had more evidence. At least that's what I've heard and read over and over, but I guess I've never sat down to find out if that was true.

Re:intelligent design? (1)

kaatochacha (651922) | about 2 years ago | (#42547283)

God created evolution.
There, you can now both be right!

Repeatability? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42550445)

We can verify gravity in a lab, not evolution.

Re:intelligent design? (3, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | about 2 years ago | (#42546857)

There is no evidence Jesus existed, and you you study the time when the bible was put together, the letters strongly indicate that 'Jesus' is a compilation of people. FYI: at the time people claiming to be Prophets and the son of god was common.

". In lives changed from being ruined to being fixed, "
personal bias.

", in people serving meals at soup kitchens"
Gee, all kindness comes from the religion you happen to believe, what an amazing coincidence.
The fact that similar things have been going on far longer the the belief in God proves you are wrong.

" answered prayers of Christians."
Yeah, that doesn't happen. Provably does not happen.

Re:intelligent design? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42544461)

And god is simple? The cognitive capacity alone needed to create the reality we're in and to listen to all those prayers, to monitor and judge all those lives, I wouldn't call that simple at all.

Evolution, at its core, is simple: individuals reproduce in some way, there are traits that individuals inherit from their parent(s), (some of) those traits have an influence on an individual's reproduction succes. That is enough to make (natural) selection inevitable. Mechanisms for recombining traits produce individuals with combinations of traits that didn't exist before. There you have it: evolution. Sexual reproduction and the exchange of DNA between bacteria are such mechanisms. Because by selection and recombination alone some traits will die out, for long term sustainability mechanisms are needed that produce new traits: mutations.

It's just math, really. Make a computer program with a simulation of these mechanisms, something quite simple will do, and you can see evolution happening before your eyes. You can to some extent see complexity emerge if it fits the requirements imposed by the environment better than less complex individuals. If the mechanisms used to code for variation are themselves subject to evolution (and as they are part of the package we call life I don't see why they should be excluded) then from a simple start more sophisticated mechanisms can evolve. For life to become more and more complex all that's needed is that occasionally a trait that adds complexity also enhances reproduction succes. The only thing that might put an upper limit to complexity would be a reduced redproduction succes.

Don't mistake the complexity of the result of evolution for the complexity of evolution itself. Evolution itself is a surprisingly simple principle.

I'm pretty confident that mathematicians could turn what I described as evolution in the second paragraph of this post into a formal proof that evolution is inevitable if those few conditions are met. It should then be trivial to show life as we know it satisfies those conditions. That doesn't tell us how life started, but if mechanisms that satisfy the conditions are discovered that are simple enough to spontaneously appear occasionally, and if a tendency to increased complexity can be shown to be a likely part of evolution (for instance when individuals need to compete for scarce resources), then the question shifts from "how could life evolve" to "how could life not evolve".

Re:intelligent design? (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | about 2 years ago | (#42545439)

What assumptions and additional actors does evolution add? In what universe are they not simple compared with "First we need to have an invisible, omnipotent, omnipresent, eternal being"?

Not Occam's razor, but as Laplace said: (2)

vyvepe (809573) | about 2 years ago | (#42544155)

I have no need of the hypothesis that there is a Creator. It explains everything, but predicts nothing.

Re: intelligent design? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42547395)

who said anything abou omnipotence ? tye whole creation thing makes more sense if you picture a very advanced but limited designer race of beings, trying out their designs in one big expwrimental terrarium called planet earth.

Re:intelligent design? (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 2 years ago | (#42546791)

And that ';logic' is why there can be no debate with you people. You use bad logic, logical fallacies and refuse to hold your view to the same tests as you want evolutionary scientist to have.

There is no evidence of any designer; however creations talk about top down.
You create an absurd argument instead of offer evidence.
Science works. Changing the argument instead of showing proof just shows that you belief is factually wrong.

Re:intelligent design? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42543485)

"No, if it was intelligent design, all fireflies would have this."

What?

Similarly, if cars were designed, they'd all have 8-cylinder engines?

Re:intelligent design? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42544511)

You do know that cars designs evolve with a process of incremental changes? 8cyl designs lost in the evolutionary battle due to cost and fuel economy.

Didn't expect car analogies to work for evolution, but thank you for prompting it!

Re:intelligent design? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42545713)

likewise, cars were created by an intelligent designer, AND also evolved.

not really sure why the 2 need to be mutually exclusive when talking about the more general topic of 'everything' , but they don't need to be mutually exclusive when talking about something specific such as cars?

Yes, God created everything. yes, things evolve. christians cannot (and smart ones, do not) ignore science. Christianity and Science can easily live together, they don't, and never have been contradictory. Thats why arguments about them lead nowhere. there's nothing to argue about. the only reason arguments happen is ignorance on both sides.

Re:intelligent design? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42548625)

They don't need to be mutually exclusive. But nothing in evolution needs a creator to work, so why do you think there was one?

Re:intelligent design? (1)

Nestea80 (920068) | about 2 years ago | (#42548839)

Christianity and science can easily live together? How is prayer scientific? Closing your eyes and talking to yourself inside your own head while an invisible, undetectable, mind-reading being grants your wishes is scientific? How about the talking donkey in the Bible? Should that be included in biology textbooks? How about heaven and hell and souls? Where is the science in that? The 'smart' Christians that you speak of just pick and choose the parts of the Bible they want to take as symbolic or literal, depending on what fits in with their current scientific view of the world.

Re:intelligent design? (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | about 2 years ago | (#42545595)

If cars were designed by an all knowing, all powerful, god then no I wouldn't expect them to all have 8-cylinder engines. I would expect them all to use the optimal design for the niche they are in. If there was a component that was better than some other component in every way then yes I would expect the better component to always be used.

Of course the beauty of intelligent design is that nothing can ever run counter to it and hence it can never be shown false (it also doesn't provide any useful predictions for that same reason), so we can just say "god wants diversity in his cars" and problem averted.

Re:intelligent design? (1)

petman (619526) | about 2 years ago | (#42543599)

If this characteristics is advantageous to the survival of the species, according to evolution we should be seeing it on more than one strain of fireflies, shouldn't we?

Re:intelligent design? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42543735)

Evolution is pretty slow for most species.. This feature might not have existed in any fireflies just 1000 years ago.

Now if you want quick evolution. Going to have to go down the scale to germs and microbes. And they are evolving rapidly which is why we now have things like MSRA killing people. That has evolved in the human lifespan in an observable way.

Most everything else evolves over such long periods of time.. We havent been advanced long enough to have noticed them. Come back in a million years and all fireflies might have this adaptation. If it helps them outbreed those that don't.

Re:intelligent design? (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 2 years ago | (#42546955)

Nope.
Evolution is a bush, not a tree or straight line. It's also slow. IF brightness helps mating, then eventually all fireflies in that area will get them...UNLESS it also makes them easier to be food.

I don't know if with of those are true, just pointing out the two most obvious variables.
And evolution is ongoing, so in 200 years maybe all fireflies will have them.

Re:intelligent design? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42548981)

That's a big if. The male peacock's tail most definately is disadvantageous to the species, but it still evolved because it attracts the female peacock. Not having studied this firefly at all I don't know if there is a benefit to the firefly from this adaptation or if it evolved due to a similar reason the peacocks tail did.

Secondly, if it is beneficial to the species, then the species that evolved it first has filled the niche for this type of firefly which doesn't leave room for another species of firefly to evolve it again.

Re:intelligent design? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42543987)

No, if it was intelligent design, all fireflies would have this. Since it appears only one strain of fireflies does this, it points to evolution.

Intelligent design and evolution are made to explain completely separate things.

Evolution only explains the diversity and change in populations but does not explain where it started. Evolution assumes some sort of starting point.

Intelligent design and creationism on the other hand tries to explain the starting point.

You could have intelligent design start life and evolution take over after that.

The primordial soup theory has never been demonstrated in lab (beyond simple amino acids).

Re:intelligent design? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42549295)

The problem with ID/Creationism is that they don't explain anything at all.

Re:intelligent design? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42544321)

But it was intelligent design to fool those who don't have blind faith that there is a intelligent design and not the evolution! DUCH!

(just joking of someone didn't get it. Really, there are so blind believers that would take that seriously)

Re:intelligent design? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42547737)

No, obviously only those fireflies were the chosen ones.

Re:intelligent design? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42550069)

Stop trying to talk sense to the senseless. Don't you understand that no amount of evidence will convince people who regard evidence as suspect when it contradicts their cherrished fucking illusions? Arguing against intelligent design is like showing a dog a diagram of a primary sequence star and expecting it to understand what the fuck you're trying to show it.

If you want the dillusional to grok that their gods are made-up, don't tell them they (or he or she or whatever) is fake, explain to them how the power of random reinforcement and existential bias tend to cause living things subject to the influence of classical and/or operant conditioning to misinterpret events and assign to random events meaning that just isn't there! Let them conclude that the world (and the broader universe) don't actually need "god" or "gods" to exist to operate and appear as they do. Don't try to drag them kicking and screaming out of their fantasy worlds, it won't work, it will just make them resent you and the truth.

Okay?

Re:intelligent design? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42543105)

I am not here to be sucked into your bullshit debate that some flabby old fart that still thinks he looks good without a shirt lives on a cloud and points his finger at us like we were sims

Re:intelligent design? (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 2 years ago | (#42543221)

luminescent design

Re:intelligent design? (1)

rwise2112 (648849) | about 2 years ago | (#42547887)

“Now it is such a bizarrely improbable coincidence that anything so mind-bogglingly useful could have evolved purely by chance that some thinkers have chosen to see it as the final and clinching proof of the non-existence of God.

The argument goes something like this: "I refuse to prove that I exist,'" says God, "for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing."

"But," says Man, "The Photuris genus of firefly is a dead giveaway, isn't it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves you exist, and so therefore, by your own arguments, you don't. QED."

"Oh dear," says God, "I hadn't thought of that," and promptly vanishes in a puff of logic.

Jesus Christ (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42542909)

should sue them on behalf of his father.

Re:Jesus Christ (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42542971)

Can a nonexistent entity sue on behalf of another non-existent entity?

Re:Jesus Christ (2)

Cryacin (657549) | about 2 years ago | (#42543047)

Probably. A corporate can sue another corporate.

direct link (5, Informative)

Trepidity (597) | about 2 years ago | (#42542939)

The linked article is just a paraphrase of this press release [osa.org] , which has more details.

Re:direct link (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42543323)

The paper itself has even more details, and is publicly accessible: http://www.opticsinfobase.org/oe/abstract.cfm?uri=oe-21-S1-A179

Re:direct link (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42547153)

Direct link to the more relevant Optics Express [opticsinfobase.org] article as opposed to the Energy Express [opticsinfobase.org] article by the same authors.

Optics Express abstract:

A common problem of light sources emitting from an homogeneous high-refractive index medium into air is the loss of photons by total internal reflection. Bioluminescent organisms, as well as artificial devices, have to face this problem. It is expected that life, with its mechanisms for evolution, would have selected appropriate optical structures to get around this problem, at least partially. The morphology of the lantern of a specific firefly in the genus Photuris has been examined. The optical properties of the different parts of this lantern have been modelled, in order to determine their positive or adverse effect with regard to the global light extraction. We conclude that the most efficient pieces of the lantern structure are the misfit of the external scales (which produce abrupt roughness in air) and the lowering of the refractive index at the level of the cluster of photocytes, where the bioluminescent production takes place.

Energy Express abstract:

In this paper the design, fabrication and characterization of a bioinspired overlayer deposited on a GaN LED is described. The purpose of this overlayer is to improve light extraction into air from the diode’s high refractive-index active material. The layer design is inspired by the microstructure found in the firefly Photuris sp. The actual dimensions and material composition have been optimized to take into account the high refractive index of the GaN diode stack. This two-dimensional pattern contrasts other designs by its unusual profile, its larger dimensions and the fact that it can be tailored to an existing diode design rather than requiring a complete redesign of the diode geometry. The gain of light extraction reaches values up to 55% with respect to the reference unprocessed LED.

Re:direct link (1)

Vreejack (68778) | about 2 years ago | (#42549205)

Apparently the headline is a lie. The scientists did NOT get more light than current LED's. Current LED's already have surface treatments. What they did was demonstrate that this firefly has its own surface treatment for the same effect. So, no--this is not going to spur advances in LED design any more than its wings will inspire new advances in commercial flight.

HID's (2, Insightful)

mjwx (966435) | about 2 years ago | (#42543009)

So thanks to fireflies I can have even brighter, more obnoxious headlights on my car.

Re:HID's (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42543029)

I'd be surprised if no one has ever bolted a big metal halide light on the top of their truck and gone off-roading at night with it. The problem would be converting the ballast to use DC current (plus it would likely need its own battery if you run it for any length of time) but it would probably be doable with someone who had the skills.

Re:HID's (2)

Cryacin (657549) | about 2 years ago | (#42543051)

Nunchuck skills - check
Bowhunting skills - check
Computer hacking skills - check
Time to do it? Nope. I have a date tonight.

Re:HID's (2)

QQBoss (2527196) | about 2 years ago | (#42543175)

Nunchuck skills - check
Bowhunting skills - check
Computer hacking skills - check
Time to do it? Nope. I have a date tonight.

Sorry, but that last one puts all three of the previous items in doubt.

Re:HID's (1)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 2 years ago | (#42544925)

Perfect.

Re:HID's (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42543177)

Is that you Chuck Norris ?

Re:HID's (1)

Neil Boekend (1854906) | about 2 years ago | (#42543211)

There are plenty of those obnoxious metal halide lamps on cars. They are just called xenon lamps [wikipedia.org] .

Mellowing it down: the bulbs themselves are not that obnoxious, just when used with a conventional reflector. They are more bright so they require a more precise reflector to keep that light out of the eyes of the other road users.

Re:HID's (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42543363)

HIDs w/ reflectors aren't too bad if you keep the lights aimed down properly. On the dark country roads near where I live, nothing else will cut it. Besides, regular halogens glare much more when people in oncoming lanes don't turn off their brights.

Re:HID's (1, Interesting)

bzipitidoo (647217) | about 2 years ago | (#42543119)

That's a kind of bias we humans favor. Wouldn't it be better if we enhanced our night vision, instead of using brighter headlights and street lights? Or, don't drive at night, rather than try to banish darkness?

Better to cure allergies to cats, rather than breed hypoallergenic cats? Cure allergies to cedar trees, rather than chop them all down? Go to bed when the sun sets, instead of using artificial lighting?

But no. Our society is sacred. The world must change to suit us, not the other way around. Individuals must change to better fit society's requirements. Someday, perhaps we'll have a cure for sleep. No one will ever have to sleep again!

Re:HID's (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42543243)

Show us a genetic or technological modification to give a human extreme night vision, without compromising quality of vision, or vision in bright light - at a cost lower than that which a human in a developed country pays for replacement headlamps / street light taxes in a year and POSSIBLY we could talk about altering humanity wholesale.

Until the ability to modify ourselves matches your dream, at a cost low enough to avoid stratifying humanity into haves and have-nots I think most of us will be content to continue the cheaper, more fair practice of altering our environment to suit the average human's capabilities.

Re:HID's (1)

bzipitidoo (647217) | about 2 years ago | (#42548279)

But what is the real cost of our profligate use of artificial lighting? The cost in energy is not much per fixture, but we have so many that it is a significant portion of our energy usage. It screws up our circadian rhythms, at considerable costs in additional health problems. It also kills millions of insects which have evolved to orient on moonlight in order to fly straight so they can spread out. Instead, these insects now fly in circles around our lights until they are gobbled up by predators or drop from exhaustion. There aren't yet enough artificial lights to outshine the moon everywhere, but insects are surely already evolving to change this behavior. Meantime, possibly our crops are not being pollinated as well. Insects are extremely important to the environment, and we're messing them up. Doesn't matter that we didn't mean to do it. Anyone who is worried about "frankenfood" but is oblivious to this is afraid of the wrong things. Then there is astronomy. Quite a few observatories have had to move away from light pollution.

Why exactly do we have to have such well lit streets? The biggest reason is to cut down on nighttime automobile accidents. Next biggest is crime prevention. If autopiloting cars become the norm, they may well be equipped with night vision capabilities that eliminate the top reason. As for crime, we have so much remote video surveillance that could use infrared we hardly need have people standing watch at the site with light for them.

Re:HID's (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42543953)

Go to bed when the sun sets, instead of using artificial lighting?

In the winter, I can't sleep for 14 hours.

Re:HID's (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42545305)

That's odd. I can.

Re:HID's (1)

Dusthead Jr. (937949) | about 2 years ago | (#42545035)

I'm sure early humans had plenty of time to obtain night vision before the discovery of fire, but i doubt they wanted to wait longerto evolve more while being out matched by their predators. I bet they decided to put their big brains, to use, their only real advantage over both their predators and prey. You know the very thing that made us human. We probably would have be great at hunting and killing prey with our bare hands if we didn't bother inventing sharp spears and shaping rocks into arrowheads. You know changing the world to suit us.

Re:HID's (1)

operagost (62405) | about 2 years ago | (#42545387)

Somebody took Philosophy 101 this semester!

Re:HID's (4, Interesting)

Maow (620678) | about 2 years ago | (#42543393)

So thanks to fireflies I can have even brighter, more obnoxious headlights on my car.

HIDs =/= LEDs.

But yes, expect more insanely bright and poorly adjusted headlights on cars.

I always thought that for most driving, done in urban areas, headlights were so the car could be seen, not to see with. That's what street lamps are for.

Once away from street lamps (and oncoming traffic), then lights can and should be as bright as possible IMHO.

Re:HID's (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42544695)

I always thought that for most driving, done in urban areas, headlights were so the car could be seen, not to see with. That's what street lamps are for.

That *used* to be the case, but between Liberals campaigning to stop "light pollution" and Consevatives campaigning to cut municipal and state budgets we're turning on less existing roadway lights (often only every third lamp or so) and installing fewer lights when we build new roads.

Re:HID's (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42545781)

That *used* to be the case, but between Liberals campaigning to stop "light pollution" and Consevatives campaigning to cut municipal and state budgets we're turning on less existing roadway lights (often only every third lamp or so) and installing fewer lights when we build new roads.

That's not the case where I am, but if it's happening SOMEWHERE... GOOD!

Streetlights-for-cars is completely asinine. That's what headlights are for. They're a waste of money to buy, install, repair, replace, and power.

Installing streetlights in places with significant numbers of PEDESTRIANS, on the other hand, is fine by me.

Re:HID's (1)

PhxBlue (562201) | about 2 years ago | (#42549875)

That *used* to be the case, but between Liberals campaigning to stop "light pollution" and Consevatives campaigning to cut municipal and state budgets we're turning on less existing roadway lights (often only every third lamp or so) and installing fewer lights when we build new roads.

I suspect in the latter case you're referring to Colorado Springs, Colo. As a liberal who believes that reducing light pollution is a worthy endeavor, I'm glad my very conservative city took this step. It Just Makes Sense.

Re:HID's (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42544707)

I used to be able to tell when someone was using their brights by looking to see if I could identify the outline of their headlamp. If instead of a headlamp shape there existed a shapeless shining star of intense ocular pain, they were driving with their brights on. If I I could read the shape of the headlamp, they weren't.

It gets harder and harder every year to tell the difference, and it's not because I'm losing my vision. 21 and 20-20.

Re:HID's (1)

schlachter (862210) | about 2 years ago | (#42546703)

Some lux cars now have adaptive brightness headlights which sense ambient and oncoming lighting and adjust brightness to appropriate levels.

Re:HID's (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42550227)

Here's a stupid question, while we're getting off topic and talking about headlamps on cars and their adjustments...

It's the twentyfirst century. Damn near the Jetsons up in this motherfucker. Why aren't all headlights self-leveling? How hard would that be? We're talking what, 10 bucks added to the price of a new vehicle, to ensure it's always in compliance with the law? Remember it's actually illegal to operate an unsafe or noncompliant vehicle, and that includes one where the headlights blind oncoming drivers or drivers you approach from behind and try to pass or overtake. Yet only very high-end cars have these, when it makes WAAAY more sense for headlamps to be made automatically adjusting. There are several ways to do this, including a system that senses weight differential on the axles, and adjusts the lights for the known difference in the attitude of the vehicle due to weight imbalance/distribution, or perhaps a sensor that can tell what direction gravity is in, and compute the difference between gravitational force and the normal force (so driving up or down an incline doesn't cause your headlights to point at the ground or sky...)

Just wondering. Discuss! :)

Re:HID's (2)

squiggleslash (241428) | about 2 years ago | (#42545883)

Well assuming you replaced headlights based on regular LEDs with headlights based upon this technology, it would mean same brightness headlights, but slightly better fuel efficiency.

Anybody have more details? (3, Interesting)

mykepredko (40154) | about 2 years ago | (#42543073)

If I understand what was discovered in TFA (and press release noted by Trepidity), the etched scales reduce the internal reflections of the produced light which result in some of the produced light being lost in the structure of the LED and lens.

Does anybody know how much light is actually lost within the LED and lens? The article mentions that the extrated light is increased by 55% which implies that at least a third of the light produced by an LED is lost within the structure - would this be correct?

I would presume that this loss would be influenced by the shape of the LED lens - correct? I seem to remember that pin through hole LEDs are designed with the emitter at the focus of the curved lens to minimize reflected losses BUT this could be a huge advantage for SMT chip LEDs which tyically just have a flat surface for the lens.

Are there other applications in which this can be used as I would think that this could be useful in other applications? I would guess that adding the triangular "roof" structure would make it difficult to focus/direct the light produced by the LED. This would mean that the typical power dispersion patter of a typical LED would be evened out and the light output would be difficult to focus - correct?

myke

Re:Anybody have more details? (0)

Osgeld (1900440) | about 2 years ago | (#42543121)

55% across the board is really stretching reality, there's materials, size, quality, shape, color, finish blah blah blah

55% more, more than what? a rebel? or some shitty red ebay thing 100 for a buck, I have LED's 100% brighter ... than a shitty ebay normal red

Re:Anybody have more details? (4, Interesting)

queazocotal (915608) | about 2 years ago | (#42543241)

It's basically a misleading headline.
Sort of like an advertising campaign a few years back, which compared a mouthwash to 'brushing alone' - which when you went into the small print was comparing it against brushing with no toothpaste.

The picture shows a bare die LED.
LEDs are basically never used like this, they always have a silicone or epoxy cover, which better matches the refractive index of the led die, so more light gets out.

Is this useful in some cases, perhaps, and may inspire some modifications. But the flat figure is misleading,
50% of light is _not_ lost at the moment in most designs of led.

Re:Anybody have more details? (1)

Anachragnome (1008495) | about 2 years ago | (#42544013)

I agree the article is lacking, but not necessarily wrong.

Perhaps the idea is something along the lines of a Fresnel lense--individual surfaces that act to direct light that normally emits from the sides of the LED and direct it more towards the end where it is concentrated for purpose in use. I can easily see 55% of the light emitted by an LED being wasted if it is going in a direction that is not of benefit to the purpose of the device. If you'll look at an LED flashlight, the LED itself protrudes up into the reflector to take advantage of the light coming from the sides of the LED. For the purposes of this article, perhaps the light coming from the sides of LEDs is considered waste. Maybe this technology (somehow feels wrong calling it that, knowing the source of the discovery) would make it possible do away with reflectors all together, in some applications.

Re:Anybody have more details? (1)

llZENll (545605) | about 2 years ago | (#42544667)

That is very hard to believe, do you really think that with millions spent researching LEDs no one has tried different lens combinations, magnifiers, reflectors, and fresnels? Also, if 50% of the light was being absorbed by the LED wouldn't it get so hot it would melt itself?

Re:Anybody have more details? (1)

gtbritishskull (1435843) | about 2 years ago | (#42544903)

Heat is the biggest hurdle to overcome in using LEDs for regular lighting. If you look at some of the current 60W - 100W LED lights, the heat sink is a pretty big part of the design.

Re:Anybody have more details? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42546733)

LEDs are basically never used like this, they always have a silicone or epoxy cover, which better matches the refractive index of the led die, so more light gets out.

I've worked with some high power LEDs that have no or minimal covering over the die. Even with a large cover, if it had a matching index of refraction, you would still have the same internal reflection issues at the boundary between the air and cover, instead of between the die and air. Just now, every internal bounce will have even more material to go through.

Re:Anybody have more details? (3, Informative)

afidel (530433) | about 2 years ago | (#42543297)

Difficult to focus would actually be an advantage for most LED lighting applications (as opposed to LED lasers) since one of the biggest disadvantages of LED's versus other bulb sources is that they are too unidirectional and so dump a large amount of light into a small area and so they create a relatively large lux value without necessarily creating a high lumen value.

On Patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42543123)

The OP doesn't say either way, but it would be interesting to see if the company publishing their findings has applied for a patent on this design.

I'm pretty sure I've seen others succeed in this regard (for example pharmaceutical companies patenting drugs that occur in nature). Which is interesting, because it means that patent law doesn't allow you to copy from another patent holder, but it does allow you to copy from nature... probably because there is no one there to demand the royalties. Just another illustration to show how the patent system is totally broken.

Re:On Patents (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | about 2 years ago | (#42543495)

That's because nature forgot to patent her inventions.

Re:On Patents (2)

gtbritishskull (1435843) | about 2 years ago | (#42544941)

The purpose of patents (or at least the original purpose) was to put information in the public domain. No one (human) knew about these special lenses before, so it was not in the public domain. Since these scientists did the work (and spent the money) necessary to get this into the public domain, they deserve a patent.

Korean anti-reflective LED lens (3, Informative)

ModelX (182441) | about 2 years ago | (#42543525)

About two months ago Koreans published a similar success plus they found out the surface trick also worked as a good anti-reflective coating:

http://phys.org/news/2012-11-fireflies-korean-team-bright-idea.html

More linkspam (3, Insightful)

Maury Markowitz (452832) | about 2 years ago | (#42544231)

Click through the links until you find the original abstract.

The paper is about their experiments to understand the emittance of firefly scales. The conclusion is that the scales improve emittance by 55% when replicated on a cheap LED they were using as a test source.

They had no plans on using this for any practical purpose, which isn't surprising given that many optical devices already use this technique, and have for years. You can buy laser-etching solar cell surfacers off the 'web. Google it yourself.

This is simply another excellent example of a team misleading their university's press department by releasing link spammy titles, followed by the press team failing to do their job and apply any due diligence, followed by the blogrolling that occurs when a self-described TV producer reads the same link spam and fails utterly in their duty as well. /. copied it from Giz, who copied it from the press release, and no one bothered to actually look at the paper in question.

Nothing to see here folks, move along

Heinlein "predicted" this (2)

phaunt (1079975) | about 2 years ago | (#42544279)

In 1940, Robert A. Heinlein (writing under the pseudonym of Lyle Monroe) published a story called "Let There Be Light" where the firefly's bioluminosity whas studied leading to the development of "light panels", kinda-sorta predicting LEDs. It's a nice development that now the firefly is being studied to improve those LEDs. Though the mechanism is totally different of course.

The story is apparently in the public domain now, available here [archive.org] .

Yay! More excessive ambient light (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42544537)

Brighter LEDs have their purpose, but I desperately request that we invent, or use some dimmer LEDs for some home user products.

While I find it very convenient that my PC has the capability to serve as emergency lighting should my overhead lamps fail, it's not so great for a piercing blue LED to light up my room when watching a movie or playing a game. Of course, a 'fix' for that is just some electrical tape away (or when I finally get around to it, some diagonal cutters)

The real "WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT" LED annoyance for me is when they are in vehicles. Nothing like a subdued glow from your gauges at night and a night-vision destroying permanently-on LED indicator that the PASSENGER AIRBAG IS ON. My god... how would I ever survive without knowing that this always-on feature was on without that bright LED indicator to keep me informed. (Technically it could be off, but you need to perform special modifications to the car to disable the passenger airbag, why the hell couldn't the indicator turn ON when it was disabled...)

Re:Yay! More excessive ambient light (1)

omnichad (1198475) | about 2 years ago | (#42548157)

Thankfully I have a 10 year old car with a dimmable dashboard with filament bulbs.

"Existing" bulbs (1)

Krymzn (1812686) | about 2 years ago | (#42544651)

"over 50 percent more light out of existing LED bulbs"
This is far easier than getting 50 percent more light out of LED bulbs that don't exist.

My Towers Power Light (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about 2 years ago | (#42545027)

Is already blinding enough. I really do not know what the designers were thinking, putting an LED equivalent of a 60 watt bulb for the power indicator. You could read my the light of the stupid thing.

Fireflies Bring Us Brighter LEDs (2)

Muad'Dave (255648) | about 2 years ago | (#42545081)

Fireflies Bring Us Brighter LEDs

A band of ingenious fireflies, in a fit of magnanimity, decided to bestow upon us mere mortals the gift of their superior LED technology. Down they flew from their mountaintop aerie, each carrying a pair of Super-Ultra-Bright (tm) Firefly-made LEDs in their little firefly feet, and upon reaching Belgium, they lightly dropped them into the hands of grateful research scientists.

Re:Fireflies Bring Us Brighter LEDs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42545215)

Fireflies Bring Us Brighter LEDs

A band of ingenious fireflies, in a fit of magnanimity, decided to bestow upon us mere mortals the gift of their superior LED technology. Down they flew from their mountaintop aerie, each carrying a pair of Super-Ultra-Bright (tm) Firefly-made LEDs in their little firefly feet, and upon reaching Belgium, they lightly dropped them into the hands of grateful research scientists.

Not only is this faster than UPS, they don't steal your iPad, either.

'scales' (1)

scottj31 (637960) | about 2 years ago | (#42545819)

I didn't read through to the full article, of course; this is Slashdot. I'll do that in a minute. But the SEM image they showed in the first link was not scales; it was just the surface of the exoskeleton. Scales are quite different.

How many Fireflies does it take (1)

drainbramage (588291) | about 2 years ago | (#42547021)

How many Fireflies does it take to screw in a light bulb?

Two.

The trick is getting them into the light bulb.

Wow Sorry! (1)

retroworks (652802) | about 2 years ago | (#42548923)

I was kidding about the flamebait guys. Sorry to set fire to the firefly thread with the Intelligent Design comment. Maybe Slashdot should consider a "controlled burn" strategy where certain flame-war topics are brought up on a scheduled basis to protect from uncontrolled fires.

Old news for me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42549097)

I've still got a couple of '70s era LEDs that:

  - have a 1.7Vfd
  - have an Imax of 15mA
  - are STILL some of the brightest LEDs in my drawer.

How?

Some French guy named "Fresnel". They don't produce more light than the others, they just use it better.

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