Bioluminescence

That Time Glowing Wounds Saved Civil War Soldiers’ Lives

In 1862, at the Battle of Shiloh in Tennessee, hundreds of wounded men fell and were unable to get up. Due to the raging battle and a lack of medical resources, many suffered for days on the wet, cold, muddy ground. And as they lay there (presumably in agony), some of them noticed that their wounds began to glow a faint greenish blue.

Once the soldiers were gathered and carted to an army hospital the mystery grew – the men who had noticed the faint light (since dubbed Angel’s Glow) turned out to be far more likely to recover than the men whose wounds did not flash green in the darkness.

The mystery of Angel’s Glow remained until 2001, when 17-year-old Civil War buff Bill Martin visited the Shiloh battlefield with his mom. There they learned about the legend of Angel’s Glow, and his mom, a microbiologist, commented that the soil bacterium she studied, Photorhabdus luminescens, is bioluminescent – meaning it gives off its own light.

Scientists Decode the Secret of Glowing Mushrooms

We’re just going to come right out and say it: mushrooms are weird. They pop up without warning and they can change the weather. Many of them can also glow in the dark, and we don’t know why. Now, at least, we might know how, as researchers writing in the journal Science Advances reveal the bizarre, “promiscuous” process of fungal bioluminescence.

Lots of animals light themselves up, glowing or flashing to send messages, find prey, or flirt with potential mates. And scientists have a pretty good understanding of how that happens. When a pair of enzymes called luciferin and luciferase combine with energy and oxygen, the resulting chemical reaction makes a compound called excited oxyluciferin. But excitation is not…