Faint light emitted from bodies could help scientists detect medical conditions

When someone is looking at their best, people might often describe them as ‘glowing’ or ‘radiating’.

While this compliment is not intended to mean that that person is literally glowing or radiating, as in emitting physical light from their bodies, we might be surprised to find out that this is actually the case.

That’s because humans do literally emit visible light, and its levels rise and fall throughout the day, scientists have discovered, but the light we emit is too faint to be seen with the naked eye.

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In fact, the light is around 1,000 times less intense than the levels needed to be seen with our eyes.

This light should not be confused with infrared radiation, which comes from body heat.

Rather, this light is believed to be a result of biochemical reactions involving free radicals, molecules with unpaired electrons that rob other cells of electrons, causing damage and contributing to many diseases, according toLive Science .

Although this light cannot be seen with the naked eye, in 2009 scientists in Japan developed cameras that are able to detect single protons, allowing them to learn more about this faint visible light.

The scientists tested the cameras on five healthy male volunteers in their 20s, who were asked to stand in front of the cameras bare-chested for periods of 20 minutes every three hours between 10am and 10pm.

The experiment, which was repeated over a period of three days, found that the bodies of the volunteers glowed at various levels throughout the day, with the glow being at its lowest point at 10 in the morning and its highest at 4 in the afternoon.

This led scientists to believe the light that emanates from our bodies is linked to our metabolic rhythm, which is also tuned in with our natural body clocks.

Scientists found that the face was the most radiant part of the body, as it would have the most exposure to sunlight, making it the most tanned body part.

Melanin, the pigment that determines our skin colour, is also known to have fluorescent components which could enhance the body's miniscule light production, Live Science said.

Hitoshi Okamura, a circadian biologist at Kyoto University in Japan, said that since the light we emit seems to be tied to our metabolism, the cameras might be able to help detect medical conditions if light emissions are weak.

Meanwhile, researcher Masaki Kobayashi, a biomedical photonics specialist at the Tohoku Institute of Technology in Sendai, Japan, said: "If you can see the glimmer from the body's surface, you could see the whole body condition.”

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