Skin Care and Treatments of Melbourne Dermatology - The Ultraviolet Garden

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The Ultraviolet Garden

Excerpt from the 1991 Royal Institution Christmas Lectures discussing chemically powerful ultraviolet (UVA, UVB) light, invisible to the human eye (although harmful to human skin and eyes), yet visible and beneficial to bees (and other species) in their search for nectar and pollen.

Video requires Apple Quicktime. Streaming file size: 18 mb.


For those species that are able to perceive it, ultraviolet light reveals instructional patterns and colours which the human eye sees only as solid colour.

This type of light has been named "ultra"violet because it exists at frequencies higher than violet, the last colour we see in the rainbow sequence comprising red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet, first proven in a colour theory by Isaac Newton in 1666, which when combined are white.

Astronomer and composer Frederick William Herschel discovered infrared (heat) rays in 1800. Just a year later physicist and chemist Johann Wilhelm Ritter discovered invisible ultraviolet rays.

Isaac Newton's deconstruction of the colours of the rainbow is said to have caused John Keats to write Lamia:

Do not all charms fly
At the mere touch of cold philosophy?
There was an awful rainbow once in heaven:
We know her woof, her texture; she is given
In the dull catalogue of common things.
Philosophy will clip an Angel's wings,
Conquer all mysteries by rule and line,
Empty the haunted air, and gnomed mine —
Unweave a rainbow

Notwithstanding the angst evoked and disease provoked by the sun, a better understanding of it's light (it's photons) has enabled people to avoid considerable previously inadvertent harm, and to benefit from technologies that have emerged from this understanding (phototherapy, laser, sunscreens and photoprotective antioxidants).

Ultraviolet (and Infrared) Patterns Exposed in Flowers

Photographer Bjørn Rørslett has photographed flowers so as to reveal their fluorescent UV and infrared patterns:

Potentilla anserina.

Coreopsis (from the Aster family of plants).

Crepis biennis (from the Aster family of plants).

Jasione montana.

Oenothera biennis.

Ranunculus ficaria (showing UV and IR).

Angelica sylvestris.

Ultraviolet Skin Image

Ultraviolet Skin Image.

Refer photoprotection and photoaging.

Further Information

The Sun.

Light.

Ultraviolet.

Radiation.

Rainbow.

Colours.

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The Ultraviolet Garden : UVA : UVB : Effect of UV Radiation on Skin : La Roche-Posay — UV Exposure Video :


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