Mood Bugs - has a nice ring to it.

Posted on 17, Sep, 2007 at 21:00

Category: Science

The Panamanian golden tortoise beetle, is a little 8-millimeter beetle than can change its color from gold to red. Mood Bugs. It does this through changes in its shell. The shell has tree layers and each layer reflects a different wavelength. The three wavelengths added together make the gold color. Inside the shell are very small channels. When these channels are full of fluid, the shell acts like a mirror and reflects the gold color. When the channels are empty, then the shell acts like a window instead, revealing the beetle’s red pigment under the shell. I thought this was kind of cool.

One of the applications that could come of this finding is a switch that would signal when there was fluid present. This could be a great way of letting you know when the washing machine has sprung a leak and is getting water everywhere on in the laundry room.

I’m not sure how this would be setup. The beetles are pretty small and it would be hard to see just one little beetle. So, maybe they would glue fifty or sixty of them a piece of cardboard. Then if they all changed to gold at the same time, we probably see the color change from across the room.

But, that brings up another problem. The beetles would need to be in contact with the water. If they were placed on the floor, where the water would likely be, again, we would not be able to see them. I think we could use long capillary tubes that would run from the floor and up the wall and then attached to the beetles. Then we could tack the cardboard with the beetles to the wall in plain site.

That sounds like a lot of work. Maybe it would be easier just to attach a beetle to a gold ring and sale it as a mood ring.

 

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