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American Military Hoping Someone Will Harness the Power of Bioluminescence

The US Military might not be looking to make veteran Marines glow with an eldritch green light, but they are looking into making other things glow by borrowing tricks from fireflies and plankton.

And by “looking into” we mean funding university studies with grants.  The big deal about bioluminescence is that it creates light without creating heat, making it invisible to infrared and other heat-seeking tech.  Possible applications include “creating biodegradable landing zone markers that helicopters can spot even as wind from their rotors kicks up dirt,” making “‘friend vs. foe’ identification markers and security systems, and methods to track weapons and supplies on the battlefield.”

And also being totally cool.

Bruce Branchini, professor of chemistry, has received $225,000 to pursue his attempts to mutate fireflies into giving off far-red light, the wavelengths used by television remotes that are invisible to human eyesight.

From Yahoo! News:

Hugh De Long, deputy director of math, information and life sciences at the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, said it has given about $500,000 in grants yearly for bioluminescence studies since 2002 or 2003.

The Office of Naval Research and the National Science Foundation also give grants for bioluminescence work, sometimes several million dollars at a time. They hope for long-term benefits for the military, health researchers and other government entities by encouraging the basic biological research with financial incentives.

Identifying your allies, rally points, and resource drops by fluorescent markers?  Who says video games never gave anyone good ideas?

(Yahoo! via /.)

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