In the ocean there lurks a creature that can produce light from sound waves,
It is called the Pistol shrimp and it is one of the the loudest creatures in the ocean, its sound is as loud or louder than the song of the great whales. The animal snaps a specialised claw shut to create a bubble that generates enormous acoustic pressures that are accompanied by flashes of light. The bubble reaches speeds of 97 km/h (60 miles) per hour and releases a sound that resembles a pistol shot. The pressure can stun or kill small fish. It has subsequently been discovered that the strike of another shrimp species, the mantis shrimp, also produces this effect. :)
The process of creating light from sound is called sonoluminescence. Sonoluminescence is a phenomenon where sound waves create and implode air bubbles in water and create a flash of light. No one knows exactly how this happens, but it is expected that when the bubble implodes the pressure change causes a rapid temperature increase in the bubble. The temperature reaches over 5,000 K (4,700 C), which is just under the surface temperature of the sun. The massive temperature ionises the gas inside the bubble, creating a flash of light.
Image: Mantis Shrimp
|Return to the Homepage