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Ask Slashdot: How to Exploit Post-Cataract Ultraviolet Vision? 350

Posted by timothy
from the oh-not-ultraviolent dept.
xmas2003 writes "I recently had cataract surgery with a Crystalens implant. With my cloudy yellowing (UV-filtering) natural lens removed, I see the world in a new light (more on that in a moment) as everything is brighter and colors are more vivid ... plus in focus. As a typical Slashdot reader, I've been myopic since childhood, so it's wonderful not to have to wear glasses/contacts for distance. One interesting oddity is that I can now see ultraviolet light — it seems that there are a few people who have photoreceptors sensitive below 400nm into the UV spectrum. I've done some testing with a Black Light and UV filter to confirm this but would love to do more conclusive testing such as using a Monochromator — anyone in the Boulder, Colorado area have access to one? And any suggestions from Slashdot readers on how I can further explore this phenomenon? While I can't see dead people, I guess I have a 'superpower' ... although I'm not sure a middle-aged suburbanite dad should don purple tights and cape to become a crime-fighter!"
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Ask Slashdot: How to Exploit Post-Cataract Ultraviolet Vision?

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  • by OzPeter (195038) on Sunday October 02, 2011 @03:39PM (#37584594)

    Think up a really cool super hero name. Then we can you welcome you as an overlord. Assuming that you can get Natalie Portman to deliver the Hot Grits!

    • by Haedrian (1676506) on Sunday October 02, 2011 @03:48PM (#37584640)

      Ultraman

      • by mwvdlee (775178)

        ...and his "quirky" sidekick Violetboy.

      • by martin-boundary (547041) on Sunday October 02, 2011 @05:31PM (#37585314)
        He should wear ultraviolet skin tights, then most people won't see them and he can pass incognito. Plus, he won't need a phone booth.
      • by Sulphur (1548251)

        Ultraman

        And his sidekick Violet.

    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Sunday October 02, 2011 @04:01PM (#37584728) Journal
      Obviously, with his newfound UV-vision powers, he is ready to decode(or manipulate) the hidden coloration used by plants to attract bees...

      As HiveLord, numberless swarms of eusocial attack insects will bend to his will! The crops of man shall be bounteous, or wither unpollinated, by his hand! His amazonian suicide warriors will throw themselves at all foes, laying down their lives that the Swarm's venom may find its target!
      • by morari (1080535)

        Obviously, with his new found UV-vision powers, he is ready to decode the hidden alien propaganda spread throughout our daily lives. Him and Roddy Piper should get together and finally put a stop to the ruling class of alien invaders!

      • by pmontra (738736) on Monday October 03, 2011 @03:36AM (#37587738) Homepage
        Or he can see UV reflected by sunscreen lotions. That would be a good test to check if he can really see UV. I guess that the reflected wavelengths of different products might vary and he might not be able to see all of them, nevertheless a crowded beach should provide a good enough sample.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 02, 2011 @04:15PM (#37584818)

      Ultraviolator.

      Though I guess that could be open to misinterpretation.

  • Dangerous (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 02, 2011 @03:42PM (#37584608)

    Don't go out of your way to expose your eyes to UV!

    • Then again, remember that sunlight contains lots of UV light, so those levels are fine (except if you're a basement dweller)

      • by Baloroth (2370816)
        After having his natural UV eye-filters removed, he might want to avoid sunlight too. Shouldn't be too hard for a /.'er...
      • by asvravi (1236558)
        No they aren't safe. In the case of sunlight, eyes see it pretty strongly and the pupils contract to cut down the amount of light that strikes the retina thus protecting it. In case of UV, there is a chance he may not see a part of the spectrum so his pupils remain dilated letting in dangerous amounts of UV light. Same reason it is advised to never look at an eclipse with unprotected eyes.
        • by JWSmythe (446288)

          They have this new fangled device, called "sun glasses". :)

          For people who have had their lenses replaced, it's strongly advised to use UV filtering sunglasses. I'm one of them, for almost 20 years now, but only in one eye. I haven't actually checked, but I'm fairly sure that you are right. I can see UV, but I suspect my pupils don't contract, as I my night vision is maintained normally. Bright UV tends to hurt, so I normally react by closing that eye. At least that natura

      • Re:Dangerous (Score:4, Insightful)

        by jamesh (87723) on Sunday October 02, 2011 @05:41PM (#37585374)

        Then again, remember that sunlight contains lots of UV light, so those levels are fine (except if you're a basement dweller)

        Except that the filter that prevents the UV reaching the back of his eyeball is now gone... There is probably a good reason why you have that filter there in the first place!

    • by hedwards (940851)

      That was my first thought, even with normal eyes UV isn't good for them, but if the OP has lost a layer of protection, then he needs to be even more careful about exposure as there's that much less eyeball protecting the nerves in the back of the eye.

      Had it been IR sensitivity that would have been cool. But because UV unlike IR is higher energy than light in the visible spectrum you're much more likely to have eye problems in the future.

    • Re:Dangerous (Score:5, Informative)

      by subreality (157447) on Sunday October 02, 2011 @06:05PM (#37585542)

      UV is a very wide spectrum. Near-UV isn't too scary.

      UV-A (400-315 nm) is OK for short-term exposure. Your pupils won't constrict like they do for visible light, so keep the intensity low. Plain old blacklights are 350-400nm with the peak at 365nm, plus a small peak in the very bottom of the visible spectrum (which is the purple glow).

      UV-B (315-280 nm) will probably be invisible, and it will do bad things to your eyes, so please stick to very low intensities if you want to fool with this. Read up on the risks first.

      UV-C (280-100 nm) is utterly hostile to biology - the upper atmosphere filters this range out so life never evolved mechanisms to deal with it. Actually, UV-C is hostile to damn near everything: just from my own experience, it bleaches everything, and most plastics will degrade and become brittle with mere hours of exposure. I've test-fired a 185nm lamp in the open for a few seconds (wearing goggles!) and even across the room you can instantly smell ozone forming as it starts ripping oxygen apart. Stay away!

      • by Pharmboy (216950)

        You have the better of the replies so far (I've worked with UV devices daily, for 20 years). Many flowers have colors that can only be seen in the barely sub 400nm range, high into UVA, and just passed violet in the rainbow. This is where blacklights work as well. Staying above 315nm (and better above 350nm) presents much less risk, and is likely where his extended vision is anyway.

        UVB exposure to the eyes should be avoided by everyone, and I don't recommend very long exposures of longer wave UVA either,

      • by WillDraven (760005) on Sunday October 02, 2011 @08:52PM (#37586440) Homepage

        UV-C (280-100 nm) is utterly hostile to biology - the upper atmosphere filters this range out so life never evolved mechanisms to deal with it. Actually, UV-C is hostile to damn near everything: just from my own experience, it bleaches everything, and most plastics will degrade and become brittle with mere hours of exposure. I've test-fired a 185nm lamp in the open for a few seconds (wearing goggles!) and even across the room you can instantly smell ozone forming as it starts ripping oxygen apart. Stay away!

        Next month's Slashdot headline: WickedLasers introduces 185nm 5W "My 1st Death Ray" for $150 ;-)

  • by SEWilco (27983)
    Actually, you should don purple lights.
  • by justin12345 (846440) on Sunday October 02, 2011 @03:49PM (#37584652)
    Do black lights actually look black when on to most people? I thought they only looked black when they're off. To me they've always looked white with purple edges when on. I thought that was normal.
    • by artor3 (1344997)
      The purple you see is just purple light. Most of the light emitted by black lights is ultraviolet, and thus invisible. But some of it is just regular old violet.
    • by sirwired (27582) on Sunday October 02, 2011 @03:57PM (#37584716)

      Sorry; you do not have special UV-sensitive super-powers. So-called "black" lights are not, by any stretch of the imagination, UV-only. They have a filter on them that blocks most, but not all, visible light. They are called "black" lights because the UV causes appropriately fluorescent and phosphorescent materials to glow out of proportion to the visible light emitted by the bulb.

  • List of ideas. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by allaunjsilverfox2 (882195) on Sunday October 02, 2011 @03:50PM (#37584662) Homepage Journal
    1. Check to see if this ability enhances your sight during low level light. 2. Check the boundaries of your abilities and record such data. Is there a certain amount of UV light you can and can not detect? 3. Use this ability for a stealth motion detector. If a robber can't see in the dark, but you can, this would be a advantage. 4. Use this ability to sneak in late at night to prevent people yelling at you! :p 5. During a Solar eclipse, TOTALLY watch it, with proper protection of course. You will be recieving a special view that few humans will ever experience. :3
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Joce640k (829181)

      3. Use this ability for a stealth motion detector. If a robber can't see in the dark, but you can, this would be a advantage.

      That would be infra-red, not UV...

    • by guanxi (216397)

      4. Use this ability to sneak in late at night to prevent people yelling at you! :p

      He said he was a middle-aged Dad. He's more likely to use it to detect the sneaker than to be him.

  • Which naturally gives off UV which could make this power very useful? Aside from being able to see UV bulbs...

    I can't remember much from physics ... IR vision would have been much more cool and useful.

  • Perhaps back in WWII (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RLBrown (889443) on Sunday October 02, 2011 @03:55PM (#37584704) Homepage
    Back in WWII, when the medical treatment was much more primitive, elderly persons in England, who had vision partially restored by cataract surgery, were asked to watch for long wave UV covert signals, from off the coast vessels, as part of the war effort. This may be an urban legend -- it is unanswered on Snopes http://message.snopes.com/showthread.php?t=25056 [snopes.com], but I do recall reading about it as a child, I believe in a commentary written by Arthur C. Clarke. But the memory is vague, and who knows where Clarke might have learned of it. So as something vaguely remembered from a book half a century old, that may or may not exist, where the original author may or may not have had first hand knowledge, ... well, by Internet standards, that's your proof right there!
    • by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Sunday October 02, 2011 @04:01PM (#37584730) Journal

      I understand that the definitive text on ultraviolet astronomy was written about then by an astronomer who had also been through the operation.

      For him astronomical objects with high UV emission were "naked eye objects". He could just look through the telescope eyepiece and zero in on interesting stuff, when others had to wait for the film to be developed.

      Not as big a deal these days, with 'scopes aimed using semiconductor image sensors rather than naked eye. But may still be an advantage.

    • by Mashiki (184564) <mashiki AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday October 02, 2011 @04:28PM (#37584914) Homepage

      I dunno. I remember my great grandmother talking about sitting with her grandmother watching for this on the coast along with a naval officer to report. It could very well still be sealed, which considering how useful it would still be today, wouldn't surprise me at all.

  • My prescription glasses have the tint that goes from essentially clear to sunglasses depending on light. I've noticed if I look at black light with them on, they go kind of foggy, which I guess makes sense given that IIRC, it's actually ultraviolet light that makes the shift happens, which is also why they're less effective in cars. Anyone else have this effect?

  • "purple tights and cape to become a crime-fighter?"

    Of course not!!! They should be black as in Batman and possibly some green as in the Green Lantern!

    Purple?! No way for a dad!

    But if you are serious with fighting crime on a regular basis i guess the police blue would fit too, and if you get the badge then you're set.

  • by otmar (32000) on Sunday October 02, 2011 @04:05PM (#37584754) Homepage

    No Capes! [youtube.com]

  • by vlm (69642)

    Do I really have to suggest to a bunch of /.ers to try and see thru clothing using UV light? Some clothing is sorta IR transparent, sorta.

    My gut level guess is very little clothing is UV transparent, but bleached underclothes might fluoresce brightly beneath regular clothes, maybe.

    In a completely unrelated topic, does anyone know of any (long term) UV phosphors? Perhaps the original poster could see glow in the dark "whatever" that most of us couldn't see. I'm not talking about short term florescence, bu

  • Superman can see even beyond the ultraviolet, into the x-ray spectrum, but only when he wants to. Me, I've been trying like heck to shut off my ability to see blue, primarily during Redskins/Cowboys football games, but I haven't yet gotten it to work. So I was thinking, maybe the shorter wavelengths are what allow voluntary control. Please let us know what you discover.

    In related news for nerds, here's a B movie about a guy who wanted to see more outside the normal-human spectrum, but without the ability
  • One interesting oddity is that I can now see ultraviolet light — it seems that there are a few people who have photoreceptors sensitive below 400nm into the UV spectrum. I've done some testing with a Black Light and UV filter

    1) Purchase a UV source and filter the heck out of it to output purely UV (no purple leakage). Ask a geologist or perhaps a scorpion exterminator, they'll know what to buy...

    2) Visit astronomical telescope parties and offer your safety assistance... help walking down the mountain, help reading directions, help stepping off the road curb without tripping, just .. sighted help in general.

    What to them is pitch black, to you, could be lit up like a searchlight, at least until your batteries die.

  • We should be breeding this trait RIGHT NOW.

    • We should be breeding this trait RIGHT NOW.

      Well, he did refer to himself as a "suburban dad" - so he's been doing his part...

  • by westlake (615356) on Sunday October 02, 2011 @04:21PM (#37584854)

    One interesting oddity is that I can now see ultraviolet light â" it seems that there are a few people who have photoreceptors sensitive below 400nm into the UV spectrum.

    In World War II the OSS recruited elderly cataract patients as coastwatchers --- able to read Morse sent over UV light.

    Stanley Lovell's "Of Spies & Stratagems" can be found quite cheaply in paperback and as a legit free download on the web. It's well worth a read.

    Lovell was the head of R&D for the OSS, their "Professor Moriarity," and it is here you will learn why.

  • I see UV too... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Keebler71 (520908) on Sunday October 02, 2011 @04:26PM (#37584892) Journal
    I see UV too,... at least technically and I don't believe it is that uncommon. In a college quantum physics lab we were looking at the emission spectrum of Hydrogen and the instructor was guiding us through various emission lines. He asked if we could see the purple line and then asked who could see the *other* purple line. I was the only one who could. He said he always asks that because every class there are one or two students (out of about 20) who could see just enough into the UV spectrum to see it. I don't recall which line it was but assume it was the Balmer n=6 line at 397nm.

    I can't say this has been particularly more useful to me although I do think I see rainbows as 'wider' than most people with a much thicker "purple" band than others seem to see. Totally subjective and something I can't substantiate but I think I am more sensitive to sunlight as well.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It can also be different in each eye.

      My right sees farther into the UV, and my left a bit into IR. It can be confusing when trying to match colors, especially to what someone else wants.

  • by houghi (78078) on Sunday October 02, 2011 @04:32PM (#37584934)

    And then mark the cards with UV paint.

  • I had cataract surgery earlier this year. My ophthalmologist told me that all modern replacement lenses filter out the UV to protect the eyes. However, the lenses do reflect light better than natural ones giving you a bit of a "cat's eye" effect. I like to tell people that I now have bionic eyes to go along with my augmented hearing. Does this make me a cyborg?
  • Anything where your ability to see a custom display that others cannot gives you an advantage. An alphanumeric LCD with a UV back light and filter for example.

  • by geekoid (135745)

    ". As a typical Slashdot reader, I've been myopic since childhood,"

    Seriously, WTF?With that kind of biased reasoning, it's no wonder you have convinced yourself you can see into the UV.

  • It could be Octarine [lspace.org]. Not sure if being able to do or at least see magic is considered superpower, but it could have interesting applications. In any case, is better than seeing infra-black.
  • As a typical Slashdot reader, I've been myopic since childhood,

    Hey now, that's uncalled for. Sure, there are some around here who are still expecting the next Year of the Linux Desktop, but you can't let them speak for all of us!

    But more seriously, I've had great vision more or less for my whole life. I don't think it's entirely genetic either (though my father has never needed glasses either), and I have always done a lot of reading/computer in my time as well. I just make sure to look away every few minutes and focus on something far away so my eyes don't adjust too

  • Aging does it (Score:4, Informative)

    by NicknamesAreStupid (1040118) on Sunday October 02, 2011 @05:06PM (#37585132)
    Babies can see further into the UV than adults, probably due to the gradual yellowing of the cornea, which usually becomes apparent in old age. Water reflects UV to varying degrees, too.
  • I'll ask around and see what I can find. Work has a lab to specifically measure human eye sensitivity across the spectrum, but unfortunately it's in Illinois. However, I'm wondering if you couldn't build a DIY spectrophotometer using a DVD as a diffraction grating, and see what your sensitivity/wavelength/intensity graph would be.

  • ...though "ability to see into the UV part of the spectrum" is not quite as useful as "ability to smell into the future" (my personal fave).

  • He's more machine than man now
  • ' ... although I'm not sure a middle-aged suburbanite dad should don purple tights and cape to become a crime-fighter!"

    You're correct; you'll be wanting ultraviolet pants for this job...

  • 1. Mark some nice decks of cards in ultraviolet ink and give them to all your friends.
    2. Develop an interest in poker.
    3. Show restraint.

  • by Rob the Bold (788862) on Sunday October 02, 2011 @09:06PM (#37586522)
    . . . and help me find all the places the cat peed when he had that bladder condition.

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