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Author Topic: What is the advantage of seeing in the visible spectrum?  (Read 591 times)

Offline thedoc

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Angelo Odato  asked the Naked Scientists:
   Why do we see in the electro-magnetic range that we do?  What is the advantage to using this wavelength?Great podcast.  
Thanks,Angelo OdatoBraintree, VT USA


 
What do you think?
« Last Edit: 19/07/2016 18:50:02 by _system »


 

Offline alancalverd

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Re: What is the advantage of seeing in the visible spectrum?
« Reply #1 on: 19/07/2016 19:05:26 »
Because if it wasn't visible, we wouldn't be able to see it.

Seriously, though, it's a part of the electromagnetic spectrum that can trigger rapid, temporary chemical changes (i.e. vision) and can be focussed (lens) or inhibited (iris, eyelid) by biological tissue. Lower energy photons won't trigger a rapid chemical response, and higher energies will produce permanent chemical changes. Other species see a bit either side of our spectrum but still within that critical range. 
 

Offline Bored chemist

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Re: What is the advantage of seeing in the visible spectrum?
« Reply #2 on: 19/07/2016 20:12:16 »
It's also the region of the spectrum where water and protein don't absorb strongly.
 

Offline evan_au

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Re: What is the advantage of seeing in the visible spectrum?
« Reply #3 on: 19/07/2016 22:01:39 »
It's also a wavelength band where the atmosphere is most transparent to light, and where the Sun puts out the most energy to illuminate things on Earth.
See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Absorption_(electromagnetic_radiation)#/media/File:Atmospheric_electromagnetic_opacity.svg
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_irradiance#/media/File:Solar_Spectrum.png

The atmosphere is also quite transparent in parts of the microwave band, but the Sun puts out a relatively low level of radiation in this frequency band, you would need eyes many meters across to focus it, it would be absorbed by water in our cells.
 

Offline dlorde

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Re: What is the advantage of seeing in the visible spectrum?
« Reply #4 on: 19/07/2016 22:48:06 »
Good question, good answers!
 

Offline hamdani yusuf

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Re: What is the advantage of seeing in the visible spectrum?
« Reply #5 on: 20/07/2016 02:42:10 »
One theory of why we currently only see in the narrow range of ~400nm - ~750nm is because eyes supposedly evolved in water. and water has an interesting property when comes to different wavelengths of light.



https://www.quora.com/Why-is-the-visible-spectrum-of-light-visible
 

Offline puppypower

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Re: What is the advantage of seeing in the visible spectrum?
« Reply #6 on: 20/07/2016 11:28:49 »
Life is mostly water, with life being codependent on the interaction of water and organics. No proteins work in the absence of water or in any other solvent except water. With water being transparent to visible light, visible light can reach the organics and ions, with minimal impact on the aqueous continuum. Water give life an anchor for the organic wild card.

Water is also tuned to the spectrum of the sun in the way that is perfect for life. Water transparent to visible light, yet can absorb IR to help store heat and it can absorb UV and shorter wavelengths to help protect the organic copartner from harmful radiation. Water was designed by nature with life in mind.
 

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Re: What is the advantage of seeing in the visible spectrum?
« Reply #6 on: 20/07/2016 11:28:49 »

 

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