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Power Cables' UV Flashes Apparently Frighten Animals

timothy posted about 5 months ago | from the what-can-you-see? dept.

Power 183

Rambo Tribble writes "Ultraviolet light flashes, or "corona", may be scaring animals and altering behavior. An international scientific team, first studying behavioral anomalies in reindeer near power lines, have found that sporadic flashes of UV from the lines are probably responsible. As most mammals can see into the UV spectrum, this has broad implications for the disruption of animal behavior. From the BBC article: "Since, as the researchers added, coronas 'happen on all power lines everywhere,' the avoidance of the flashes could be having a global impact on wildlife.""

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Happy Thursday from the Golden Girls! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46473473)

Thank you for being a friend
Traveled down the road and back again
Your heart is true, you're a pal and a cosmonaut.

And if you threw a party
Invited everyone you knew
You would see the biggest gift would be from me
And the card attached would say, thank you for being a friend.

Re: Happy Thursday from the Golden Girls! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46473513)

Confidant.

only because the golden girls are too old to have cosmonauts as friends. That would make no sense.

Re: Happy Thursday from the Golden Girls! (-1, Offtopic)

Chrisq (894406) | about 5 months ago | (#46473665)

Confidant.

only because the golden girls are too old to have cosmonauts as friends. That would make no sense.

I don't know Valentina Tereshkova [wikipedia.org] is a golden girl herself now!

Protection from Deer Car accidents (5, Interesting)

Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) | about 5 months ago | (#46473499)

After reading the article this may prove to be a solution to the numerous deer car collisions. I might try this given the number of deer in my area.

Re:Protection from Deer Car accidents (1)

Scottingham (2036128) | about 5 months ago | (#46473555)

My thoughts exactly! Considering that windshields already have good UV filtering, this shouldn't be an issue for the eyes of drivers.

Re:Protection from Deer Car accidents (2)

inqrorken (3513049) | about 5 months ago | (#46473635)

The issue is that corona discharges are more prevalent on high voltage transmission lines. They require large clearances and rights-of-way - not ideal to run 220 kV up and down every road in the nation!

Re:Protection from Deer Car accidents (1)

sh00z (206503) | about 5 months ago | (#46473731)

Or two-three feet off the ground.

Re:Protection from Deer Car accidents (0, Offtopic)

dave420 (699308) | about 5 months ago | (#46473959)

"Two/three" not "two-three", fyi.

Re:Protection from Deer Car accidents (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46474475)

"you're an idiot" not "like anyone gives a rats arse", fyi.

Re:Protection from Deer Car accidents (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46475273)

Not quite; it's more than stylistic.

Two/Three means "Two or Three" (discrete values)
Two-Three means "Two to Three" (range of values)

Re:Protection from Deer Car accidents (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46473993)

Would lightning cause the same type of corona discharge?

Re:Protection from Deer Car accidents (1)

InvalidError (771317) | about 5 months ago | (#46475161)

It probably does just before air breaks down and the arc strikes. Bright flashing lights with loud bangs probably scare animals a whole lot more than a dim purple/violet haze and a soft steady hum.

Re:Protection from Deer Car accidents (2)

Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) | about 5 months ago | (#46474247)

I was thinking more along the lines of having some flashing UV LEDs that flash every 10 or so seconds. Put a couple in the grill and let them flash away.

Re:Protection from Deer Car accidents (1)

lisaparratt (752068) | about 5 months ago | (#46474695)

You mean the same UV LEDs that burnout retinas if you look into them, those LEDs?

Re:Protection from Deer Car accidents (1)

Trax3001BBS (2368736) | about 5 months ago | (#46474983)

You mean the same UV LEDs that burnout retinas if you look into them, those LEDs?

lol, standing like deer in the headlights would take on a whole new meaning, as they stumble into every tree in the area after you pass by.

That said, I would think visible light would trump UV.

Re:Protection from Deer Car accidents (2)

kamapuaa (555446) | about 5 months ago | (#46473687)

One deer acclimate they won't care any more. Similarly, I'm sure back in the past the loud noises would scare deer away, the way automobiles drove horses into a frenzy a century ago.

Re:Protection from Deer Car accidents (5, Informative)

NeverVotedBush (1041088) | about 5 months ago | (#46473745)

Here is what the corona discharges look like: https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

Pretty amazing, really.

Re:Protection from Deer Car accidents (1)

imikem (767509) | about 5 months ago | (#46474423)

I would swear I have seen these in the past. Maybe not now as I get older and eyes get lousier though.

Re:Protection from Deer Car accidents (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46474785)

Funny how 30-40 sec into the video they've identified UV discharges from a tower that appears to have a flock of sheep browsing under it. Perhaps not so scary after all?

Re:Protection from Deer Car accidents (1)

Trax3001BBS (2368736) | about 5 months ago | (#46475133)

Here is what the corona discharges look like: https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

Pretty amazing, really.

Seeing it is different that what I thought, I figured it would be at the insulators but the discharges are everywhere; mentioned in the video a cause was bird droppings.

Great News! This protects Rudolph! (2)

pollarda (632730) | about 5 months ago | (#46474635)

This is great news! The UV flashes naturally warn the reindeer so that they won't land on the power lines.

Re:Protection from Deer Car accidents (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46475053)

After reading the article this may prove to be a solution to the numerous deer car collisions. I might try this given the number of deer in my area.

Ultra-sonic whistles [amazon.com] work just as well if not better and require zero power to use as they are just the wind going through the whistle as the vehicle goes down the road. Many trucks and cars already use them too.

There ain't no such thing as a free lunch. (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 5 months ago | (#46475455)

>and require zero power to use

Not quite. How does the noise get generated? Air gets pushed through the whistle as the car pushes through the air. And in doing so it increases the air resistance of the car, requiring the engine to put out slightly more power to maintain a constant speed. So those whistles are fairly directly engine-powered, and probably horribly inefficient - vortices which form around the around the whistles will increase drag, and well as disrupt the laminar flow of air over the car body, increasing the required power output of the engine by far more than the small amount of sonic energy generated. An electric sound machine under the hood could probably do the same jop far more efficiently

Is "impact" such a bad thing? (4, Insightful)

JoeyRox (2711699) | about 5 months ago | (#46473505)

Does everything humans do that affects animal behavior need to be altered or fixed? In this case the "impact" is simply that the animals stay away from the power lines. There are countless naturally-occurring things in nature that have similar kinds of "impact".

Re:Is "impact" such a bad thing? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46473603)

What if those power lines cross a major migration route? Or block a nesting ground or food source? It's nothing personal, but I hate when people just say, "Well it's probably not a big deal." To us it may not seem like it, but to everything else it might be. We are the single most invasive species on the planet. That will eventually come back to haunt us.

Re:Is "impact" such a bad thing? (4, Insightful)

JoeyRox (2711699) | about 5 months ago | (#46473801)

Fair enough, but animals (like humans) are supremely adaptable. So the question remains - why is it a big deal if animal behavior is altered?

And calling humans an invasive species discounts our role in nature. We have survived through the evolution of our intelligence. The application of that intelligence includes altering nature to the full extent that we're able to in order to support our success as a species. All species do this to the full extent that they're able.

Re:Is "impact" such a bad thing? (5, Insightful)

jonnythan (79727) | about 5 months ago | (#46473901)

Because we have power lines everywhere and as far as I know we haven't really spent a lot of time considering the possibility that a simple power line is a de facto boundary to an animal's habitat. It's kind of a big deal when there are serious, important aspects of land use planning and environmental conservation that absolutely rely on accurately predicting and knowing an animal's range and habitat.

Re:Is "impact" such a bad thing? (1)

JoeyRox (2711699) | about 5 months ago | (#46475007)

Is there an individual or species's intelligence that will ever compete with the collective intelligence of the billions of individual evolutionary processes occurring around us? Does nature consider the impact of these processes before allowing them to occur?

Re:Is "impact" such a bad thing? (1)

jonnythan (79727) | about 5 months ago | (#46475115)

Nature doesn't "consider" anything. Your argument is basically that nature will adapt around us. Yes, it will..... but it might "adapt" in ways that eliminate important species, destroy biodiversity, and generally ravage the environment around us. Nature may "adapt" in ways that suck total ass for both us and millions of other species.

Re:Is "impact" such a bad thing? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46473985)

In my various travels, power lines are often placed near and parallel a roadway. That is less true in mountainous regions, where "the path with the least construction needs" can be over the top of a mountain for power lines and around it for the road, but it is a common trend.

So, if animals are learning to avoid the UV flashes of power lines, it also implies they are less prone to migrating across roads. If you like the continued existence of wild animals, that would be a good thing.

Re:Is "impact" such a bad thing? (5, Insightful)

dave420 (699308) | about 5 months ago | (#46474015)

I appreciate your stance, but this whole "but X is adaptable!" answer to having to change our behaviour to help X is clearly limited. We need to know the scale of the impact before we know if they're adaptable enough to adapt to the changes we are throwing at them. I'm sure you appreciate that if the change we are talking about is simply making them walk 1 meter out of their way - they can probably adapt to that. If the change is causing them to jump off cliffs, there's not much adaptability that would work in that case.

Are you aware that we rely on other species to survive? We evolved with those other species around - removing them from our environment might indeed change the balance of wildlife to the point where things we directly rely on start being affected by our changes to other species. Yes, humans are awesome and clever and can fly and go to the moon and everything, but we still breathe the same air as other (air-breathing) animals, drink the same water, and live on the same planet.

Our role in nature should be to not mess with nature so much that we die out. The status quo got us this far - changing it too much is not a good idea. Science can tell us what constitutes "too much", and ignoring that is folly. Suicidal folly.

Re:Is "impact" such a bad thing? (1)

JoeyRox (2711699) | about 5 months ago | (#46474873)

Yes our success is likely dependent on the survival of species around us. No we aren't smart enough (yet) to comprehend the permutations of possibilities and outcomes to conclude whether a particular action we take is ultimately helpful or harmful to us as a species.

We don't mess with nature. We are nature. The fact that our actions come about via volitional acts of cognition makes them no less natural than any other observable behavior from other species.

Re:Is "impact" such a bad thing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46475051)

You must be 12 years old. Pretty much everyone older than that knows your argument doesn't have anything to do with the topic at hand.

Re:Is "impact" such a bad thing? (1)

pla (258480) | about 5 months ago | (#46475043)

Are you aware that we rely on other species to survive? We evolved with those other species around - removing them from our environment might indeed change the balance of wildlife to the point where things we directly rely on start being affected by our changes to other species.

Don't worry, we're adaptable. We can just find some other way to metabolize glucose into ATP after we kill all the oxygen-producing creatures on the planet. Just one little atom, anyway - And heck, other critters use sulfur instead of oxygen, why can't we? ;)

Re:Is "impact" such a bad thing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46475081)

Pol Pot was ahead of his time. Little did we know that he would come up with blueprint for the green society that environmentalism has planned for our future . The next time you think about sustainability, deindustrialization, and depopulation think about Cambodia and the Khmer Rogue.

Re:Is "impact" such a bad thing? (1)

r1348 (2567295) | about 5 months ago | (#46474507)

As Spiderman would say: "With great powers come great responsabilities"

Re:Is "impact" such a bad thing? (1)

sjames (1099) | about 5 months ago | (#46474795)

Sometimes the animal adaptation proves to be a problem for us (and the animals). For example, not everyone is terribly happy that coyotes have adapted to suburban living. A lot of people aren't that happy that bears have adapted to food locked in small cars.

Re:Is "impact" such a bad thing? (1)

Trax3001BBS (2368736) | about 5 months ago | (#46475401)

Sometimes the animal adaptation proves to be a problem for us (and the animals). For example, not everyone is terribly happy that coyotes have adapted to suburban living. A lot of people aren't that happy that bears have adapted to food locked in small cars.

While building the Alyeska Pipeline workers were taken out to the job site in buses; where they would leave their lunches. I've heard a few stories where a bear(s) had taken over the bus for the food.

Each story had the workers waiting until the bear was through until they could get back in.

Most of the time things like that don't work out well for the Bears. If the sites weren't so remote a group might of shown up, knocked the Bear out and flown it 200 miles away "so they couldn't find their way back".

The thing is a worker might of fed a bear at one time, or left their garbage in the open; after that the bear expects food, or knows where to find it.

Re:Is "impact" such a bad thing? (1)

flaming error (1041742) | about 5 months ago | (#46475001)

"So the question remains - why is it a big deal if animal behavior is altered?"

Depends on the alteration, of course, but in general imposing new stressors often leads to death, even extinction.

"calling humans an invasive species discounts our role in nature.... altering nature to the full extent that we're able"

Yes, altering the environment is pretty much the defining characteristic of an invasive species. With the exception of our nomadic hunter-gatherer ancestors, "our role in nature" is to disrupt the extant equilibrium everywhere we go.

Re:Is "impact" such a bad thing? (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | about 5 months ago | (#46473937)

I plan on putting some power lines over my vegetable garden now. I wonder if I can make a solar powered UV flashing light to scare away animals?

Re:Is "impact" such a bad thing? (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 5 months ago | (#46474063)

I wonder if I can make a solar powered UV flashing light to scare away animals?

A couple UV LED's and a 555 timer. Hell, you might be able to mod one of those solar-powered outdoor lights.

Re:Is "impact" such a bad thing? (1)

camperdave (969942) | about 5 months ago | (#46475397)

I wonder if I can make a solar powered UV flashing light to scare away animals?

A couple UV LED's and a 555 timer. Hell, you might be able to mod one of those solar-powered outdoor lights.

Or just use a bug zapper. Of course, that might kill off the pollenators as well.

Re:Is "impact" such a bad thing? (1)

Ronin Developer (67677) | about 5 months ago | (#46474151)

Let us all know if this works....The deer and rabbits decimate my wife's garden every year. Somewhere in my basement, I have a 200KV power supply....a little motion sensor to kick off the spark gaps...hmmmmm.

Re:Is "impact" such a bad thing? (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | about 5 months ago | (#46474711)

I suggest that you enclose the spark gap so dried debris can't blow into it and ignite.

Re:Is "impact" such a bad thing? (2)

RichMan (8097) | about 5 months ago | (#46473613)

As people don't like living under power lines the land is often left wild, a lot of power line corridors are counted as wildlife corridors. This would tend to indicate that animals also don't like living under power lines and that corridors should not be counted as wildlife corridors.

Re:Is "impact" such a bad thing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46473623)

There are countless sources of fire in nature too, I guess we'll let your house burn when it catches fire. Do we really need to alter or fix that? Now, substitute planet for house, and maybe you'll start seeing it.

Re:Is "impact" such a bad thing? (2)

geekmux (1040042) | about 5 months ago | (#46473795)

There are countless sources of fire in nature too, I guess we'll let your house burn when it catches fire. Do we really need to alter or fix that? Now, substitute planet for house, and maybe you'll start seeing it.

Uh, before you continue with the modern society slut shaming here, I'd like to know what the real impact has been since power lines are now considered "invasive" due to a UV light study.

We've had power lines in nature for decades now, and yet population numbers didn't wildly drop off. There were no random attacks by normally non-violent creatures due to this. No massive changes in behavior that had impact on a large scale, causing extinction. In fact, the only thing TFA calls out is the fact that reindeer in the north avoid power lines when moving, but otherwise they are moving normally.

Seriously, can we at least try and establish a baseline before calling this the next Global Warming event? I don't need Al Gore telling me how evil I am for consuming electricity while he cruises around in a Tesla.

Re:Is "impact" such a bad thing? (1)

dave420 (699308) | about 5 months ago | (#46474057)

Just because species have not been negatively affected in the past (to your knowledge) doesn't mean they won't be in the future. Imagine if a new set of power lines were installed across the migration paths of some large herbivores - they might affect their migration, and so the health of the groups affected. That means their normal predators (whose numbers have grown large enough to be sustained by that group of herbivores) are now without enough food. They might just start attacking humans. That's pretty extreme, but it's an example of a much worse secondary effect of what otherwise seems like a rather benign primary effect.

No-one's calling this the "next global warming", and you might want to leave your Al Gore bashing out of this so you don't look quite so ridiculous.

Re:Is "impact" such a bad thing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46474453)

"and you might want to leave your Al Gore bashing out of this so you don't look quite so ridiculous"
 
I prefer when they self-identify. Saves time.

Re:Is "impact" such a bad thing? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46473735)

I don't think there are many natural things that form a virtual wall thousands of miles long, closing off wildlife corridors and genetically isolating populations. Anyway, because something exists in nature doesn't mean it's benign. Occasionally meteorites fall from the sky and obliterate life on Earth. If humans were to engage in an activity that emulated those effects it wouldn't be OK because there are similar things in nature.

Re:Is "impact" such a bad thing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46473841)

Exhibit B: An example of the crowd of scientifically illiterate idiots that allow insanely ill-conceived policies to be executed by self-serving politicians.

People with your level of education should be sequestered and denied voting rights.

Re:Is "impact" such a bad thing? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46473865)

Does everything humans do that affects animal behavior need to be altered or fixed?

No. We should continue to eat them.

Re:Is "impact" such a bad thing? (1)

StripedCow (776465) | about 5 months ago | (#46473869)

The question is more like: should humans stay away from those power lines as well?

Re:Is "impact" such a bad thing? (1)

ImWithBrilliant (741796) | about 5 months ago | (#46474177)

"Impacting" bald eagles before they "impact" a wind turbine blade would be a good thing.

Chickens and bees (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46473519)

I thought chickens and bees were special in the animal kingdom for UV vision.

UV can cause cancer, this is known. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46473521)

If high voltage power lines are emitting serious bursts of UV that lends some credence to people not wanting to live directly under them, doesn't it.

What? (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 5 months ago | (#46473685)

People don't live in tanning beds under power lines, so it doesn't lend much credence at all.

Re:UV can cause cancer, this is known. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46473805)

No it doesn't. But your comment lends credence to the proposition that you don't know shit about science.

Re:UV can cause cancer, this is known. (2)

king neckbeard (1801738) | about 5 months ago | (#46474001)

There's a little bit more to it than that. UV is in virtually all normal light sources as well, it's the duration and intensity that are harmful. The reason animals are bothered would seem to be that there is a flashing light of a particular color in the otherwise dark night. You are probably at roughly equal risk if you frequent establishments that use blacklights.

Atheists (-1, Troll)

TempleOS (3394245) | about 5 months ago | (#46473535)

Niggers, quit digging a bigger hole. Repent. God says... C:\TAD\Text\BIBLE.TXT of their gods shall ye burn with fire: thou shalt not desire the silver or gold that is on them, nor take it unto thee, lest thou be snared therin: for it is an abomination to the LORD thy God. 7:26 Neither shalt thou bring an abomination into thine house, lest thou be a cursed thing like it: but thou shalt utterly detest it, and thou shalt utterly abhor it; for it is a cursed thing. 8:1 All the commandments which I command thee this day shall ye observe to do, that ye may live, and multiply, and go in a

Reindeer (5, Funny)

SJHillman (1966756) | about 5 months ago | (#46473569)

Well, of course reindeer are especially scared of power lines. They're a hazard for most low-flying objects.

Re:Reindeer (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46473715)

Oh, Come on! Somebody hit this with a +5 funny, or Santa won't bring you nothin'.

Re:Reindeer (1)

Ronin Developer (67677) | about 5 months ago | (#46474165)

Glad somebody modded it up. That really was funny.

Re:Reindeer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46474439)

It is good then that they frequently blast UV then. Power companies have already solved this problem! We just need to add UV detection to the corneas of more animals...

Troll Hunter! (5, Funny)

Max Threshold (540114) | about 5 months ago | (#46473611)

Troll Hunter really was a documentary.

Excuse (0, Flamebait)

MouseTheLuckyDog (2752443) | about 5 months ago | (#46473641)

Just another excuse for wacko liberals to demand we abandon civilization and go back to our caves.
All of course except for the wacko liberals who get Lear jets and free fuel to go around telling us all that we should go back to our caves.

Re:Excuse (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46473709)

you and your ilk have clearly abandoned civilization a long time ago and have no idea what your little mind is talking about.

Re:Excuse (2)

RatherBeAnonymous (1812866) | about 5 months ago | (#46474295)

At first glance, I read that as "you and your elk"

Re:Excuse (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46474729)

pretty sure his elk ran off when he got too close to a power line. now there's only ilk left.

Re:Excuse (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | about 5 months ago | (#46473739)

As opposed to the wacko conservatives who think we should keep destroying the environment including all of our food until we're all dead. Don't you just love exaggerated strawmen blanket statements? It's much easier than thinking.

Re:Excuse (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46474041)

It's not just wacko liberals who demand trolls to go back to their caves.

Re:Excuse (1)

PPH (736903) | about 5 months ago | (#46474887)

Us right wing troglodytes want those caves all to ourselves. You left wingers can live up on the surface. Until we sound the sirens for lunchtime.

What next? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46473681)

Ban warp drive travel? Crazy eurotrash!

DC transmission lines? (3, Interesting)

ACluk90 (2618091) | about 5 months ago | (#46473695)

I was wondering whether there UV flash also exist for DC transmission lines. Is there any expert around who knows that?

This is of interest as it is very difficult to build new power lines all over Europe, usually resulting in around 20 years of legal battle for a mere 30 km of power lines far away from any densely populated area. This is just slightly reduced for buried transmission lines with all their disadvantages. Thus a current idea/discussion is to hang DC power lines on existing poles for long distance transmission.

Re:DC transmission lines? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46473791)

Oh come on, we all know it is you, Edison. Give it a rest already. AC won and Tesla was right. Don't you an elephant to kill or something?

Re:DC transmission lines? (1)

wagnerrp (1305589) | about 5 months ago | (#46474739)

AC won a hundred years ago, because DC voltage conversion and circuit termination was difficult a hundred years ago. These days, the only reason to stick with AC transmission is due to the legacy install base.

Re:DC transmission lines? (3, Insightful)

kyrsjo (2420192) | about 5 months ago | (#46474081)

I would think so - corona discharges are dependent on electric field, not frequency (and 50/60 Hz is pretty much DC anyway).

Re:DC transmission lines? (1, Informative)

bughunter (10093) | about 5 months ago | (#46474831)

50/60 Hz is pretty much DC anyway

LOL, clearly either a digital logic or RF engineer.

Tell ya what, if you're that confident, then take an aluminum crochet needle in each hand and jam them each in the +/– terminals of a 12 volt DC power supply, then in the line/neutral sockets of a variac output tuned down to 12V, and tell us again that 60 Hz is 'pretty much DC anyway.'

(Spoiler: one will be fatal and the other not.)

And then see if you can figure out why Westinghouse engineers chose the frequency at which electrical impulses best travel along human nerves as the standard power transmission frequency...

Re:DC transmission lines? (1)

wagnerrp (1305589) | about 5 months ago | (#46474841)

The development of a corona (surrounding plasma) is dependent on the electric field, but wouldn't discrete discharges be specific to the pulsing AC field? I would expect DC to just produce a constant, muted glow, rather than flashes.

What about Infrared light? (1)

nbritton (823086) | about 5 months ago | (#46473701)

Can most animals also see infrared light? This may not be commonly known, but we, warm blooded animals, glow. Our body heat cause the emission of photons in the infrared spectrum, this is how forward looking infrared (FLIR) cameras work. Anyways, I was just wondering if animals can see other animals glowing at night.

Re:What about Infrared light? (3, Informative)

compro01 (777531) | about 5 months ago | (#46474183)

Thermal emissions from body heat are a fair ways into the IR range, around 8000-15000nm. For reference, human vision peters out around 700nm. I believe it's only possible to detect that with specialized sensory organs, such as pit viper's eponymous thermal pits.

Don't confuse "near" and "thermal" IR. (3, Informative)

jeffb (2.718) (1189693) | about 5 months ago | (#46474245)

Thermal IR (the wavelengths emitted by things around body temperature) is really low-energy. It's hard to focus, and hard to detect, especially with a detector that's already in the same temperature range. Pit vipers, vampire bats and some other animals do it, but the mechanism's fundamentally different from normal vision, and doesn't provide much in the way of an actual focused image. (The pit viper's pit is sort of like a pinhole camera with a really big pinhole.)

Near-IR, the kind of thing that cheap digital security cameras can see, is higher-energy. It can be emitted thermally, but you've got to get pretty hot (hundreds of degrees) to produce significant amounts. Go a little hotter, and you can produce visible light ("red-hot", "white-hot", etc.).

Even near-IR is hard to pick up with a chemical process, though, the way retinal cells pick up visible light. I'm not aware of any animals that can see significantly further than us into the near-IR -- okay, a bit of Googling turned up one fish that can do it [themunicheye.com] .

Re:What about Infrared light? (1)

ledow (319597) | about 5 months ago | (#46475431)

If the TV program QI is to be believed, we actually bioluminesce too, and not just in IR (which is really just the visible artefact of heat).

An awful lot of stuff bioluminesces too - an awful lot of deep sea fish, quite obviously, but there are millions of things that could be seen by something able to see light very well.

"Pure" IR is hard to detect for an animal. UV is just a small extension into the parts of light that already produce huge bodily effects at even low levels (blindness, sunburn, etc.). You'll probably find more animals see us as glowing things in the normal visible spectrum than see us in UV, and a lot more things see us in UV than in IR.

FUD? (1)

David Betz (2845597) | about 5 months ago | (#46473867)

Anytime anything anywhere makes any sound or any motion my cat is scared out of her mind. That's just what animals do.

Anthony David's book described this in detail (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46473907)

As Anthony David describes in his book, animals think like autistic people and are bothered by UV flashes.

Magnetic fields too (4, Interesting)

tomhath (637240) | about 5 months ago | (#46473911)

Many animals can see or detect the Earth's magnetic field [wikipedia.org] . I have to believe those transmission lines and arcing cause some serious anomalies in what they sense.

which animals? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46473947)

The "UV flash scaring animals" doesn't seem to apply to squirrels.

At least not to the "crispy critter" squirrels that short out transformers.

Re:which animals? (1)

PPH (736903) | about 5 months ago | (#46475021)

Transformers aren't connected* to really high voltage lines. The kind that generate serious levels of corona.

*Not the ones hanging on a pole. HV transformers typically sit in large switchyards.

Using this to solve a problem (1)

Badmovies (182275) | about 5 months ago | (#46474175)

Apparently quite a few birds can also see UV. Knowing that, would it be possible to use a UV light system to steer birds away from windmills? It appears that bird deaths is a major problem point for the renewable energy source, so any passive way of warding birds away from them would be a good thing.

Re:Using this to solve a problem (1)

Trax3001BBS (2368736) | about 5 months ago | (#46475481)

Apparently quite a few birds can also see UV. Knowing that, would it be possible to use a UV light system to steer birds away from windmills? It appears that bird deaths is a major problem point for the renewable energy source, so any passive way of warding birds away from them would be a good thing.

Where I live is fairly windy all the freaking time, the South horizon is just an endless line of wind turbines. UV at the end of each blade might not be a bad idea.

Actual hunter here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46474491)

My parents owned land with a heavy duty power line going right through the middle of it. The articles claim of "animals won't go anywhere near it" is a blatant lie. I have deer stands right next to the power lines and have watched deer go back and forth under them repeatedly. I have no doubt they see something, but from my observation they are more nervous about moving out into open areas (were predators/hunters can see them easily), than any flashing lights they would see.

Re:Actual hunter here (1)

PPH (736903) | about 5 months ago | (#46474939)

Its probably a matter of acclimatization. Deer that live near roadways get used to traffic (and get run over from time to time). Likewise, crows that aren't used to cars fly off as they approach while the ones that hang around roads just hop over to the fog line until they pass.

The problem would be the effect on migrating herds. Animals that live around power lines get used to them. But an elk herd from some distance away might take some time getting used to them before crossing under.

Corona vid (1)

cstacy (534252) | about 5 months ago | (#46474713)

Re:Corona vid (1)

ledow (319597) | about 5 months ago | (#46475393)

Well found. Looks like a very common problem, and useful to spot such things before they become a bigger problem anyway.

Finally an excuse to ban electricity! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46474999)

I guess we can't even use wind and solar now. The presence of a power grid itself is damaging to wildlife. We can't bury the lines either because that might adversely impact moles, ants, and earthworms. Humanity has no choice now but to live without electricity.

In other news (1)

Dunge (922521) | about 5 months ago | (#46475267)

Lightning scare children, the sky is blue, etc.. Seriously, is this news? Who didn't know this?

A thought occurs ... (2, Insightful)

Rambo Tribble (1273454) | about 5 months ago | (#46475369)

... people are not entirely visually oblivious to the UV spectrum; most popular laundry detergents include UV reflection enhancers that make the clothes treated with them look brighter. Hunters often employ special detergents to avoid this and its affect on game. This leads me to wonder if those who claim to have adverse reactions, such as headaches, when in proximity to power lines might not, in fact, simply be more sensitive to UV spectra, and hence, these corona events.

Charles Darwin covered this one (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46475409)

"It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change."

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