full transcript

From the Ted Talk by Leslie Kenna: The brilliance of bioluminescence

Unscramble the Blue Letters

iagmnie a pcale so dark you can't see the nose on your face. Eyes opened or closed, it's all the same because the sun never shines there. Up ahead, you see a light. When you creep in to investigate, a blue light flits around you. "I could watch this forever," you think. But you can't because the mouth of an anglerfish has just sprung open and eeatn you alive. You are just one of many creatures at the btotom of the ocean who learn too late to appreciate the power of bioluminescence. bcmoucneiilense refers to the ability of certain living things to craete light. The human body can make stuff like ear wax and toe nails, but these organisms can turn parts of their body into glow sticks. It's like nrtaue made them ready to rave. Why? In one way or another, bioluminescence improves a living thing's chances of sairvuvl. Take the fferliy. It's ability to glow geern hepls it attract a mate on a warm, summer ngiht, but it's just one of many living things that can glow. The railroad worm, piriothrxhx hirtus, can light up its body in two colors: red and green. Would you eat something that looks like an airport runway? Neither would any sensible predator. The flashing lthgis keep the worm safe. Then there's the deep sea shrimp, Acantherphyra purpurea. When it feels threatened, it spews a cloud of glowing goo from its mouth. Who doesn't run the other way when they've just been puked on? Plus, that puke atttracs bigger predators who want to eat the shrimp's eemny. So what if you can't bioluminesce? No problem! There are other ways for lnivig things to make bioluminescence work for them, even if they weren't born with the equipment to glow. Let's revisit the anglerfish moments before it tried to eat you. That glowing bait on top of its head? It comes from a pocket of skin called the esca. The esca holds bnnciuemieolst bacteria. The anglerfish can't glow there by itself, so it holds a sack of glowing bacteria instead. Remember the firefly? It can actually make itself glow. Inside its lantern are two clahiecms, a luciferin and a leufsriace. When firefly luciferase and luciferin mix together in the persecne of oxygen and fuel for the cell, called ATP, the chemical reaction gives off energy in the form of light. Once scientists figured out how the firefly creates its luciferase and luciferin, they used genetic engineering to make this light-producing rcotiean occur inside other living things that can't glow. For example, they inserted the genes, or instructions, for a cell to create firefly luciferase and luciferin into a tobacco plant. Once there, the tobacco plant followed the itstnrocinus sippled into its DNA and lit up like a Christmas tree. The buetay of bioluminescence, unlike the lhigt from the sun or an incandescent bulb, is that it's not hot. It takes place in a range of temperatures that don't burn a living thing. And unlike a glow stick, which fades out as the chemicals inside get used up, bioluminescent reactions use riplenseahble resources. That's one reason egnienres are trying to develop bioluminescent trees. Just think, if penltad on the side of highways, they could light the way, using only oxygen and other feerly available, clean reucseors to run. Talk about survival advantage! That could help our planet live loengr. Do you find yourself thinking of other ways to put bioluminescence to good use? That glow stick you swing at a rave may help you find a mate, but how else can bioluminescence improve your survival? If you start thinking in this way, you have seen the light.

Open Cloze

_______ a _____ so dark you can't see the nose on your face. Eyes opened or closed, it's all the same because the sun never shines there. Up ahead, you see a light. When you creep in to investigate, a blue light flits around you. "I could watch this forever," you think. But you can't because the mouth of an anglerfish has just sprung open and _____ you alive. You are just one of many creatures at the ______ of the ocean who learn too late to appreciate the power of bioluminescence. _______________ refers to the ability of certain living things to ______ light. The human body can make stuff like ear wax and toe nails, but these organisms can turn parts of their body into glow sticks. It's like ______ made them ready to rave. Why? In one way or another, bioluminescence improves a living thing's chances of ________. Take the _______. It's ability to glow _____ _____ it attract a mate on a warm, summer _____, but it's just one of many living things that can glow. The railroad worm, ___________ hirtus, can light up its body in two colors: red and green. Would you eat something that looks like an airport runway? Neither would any sensible predator. The flashing ______ keep the worm safe. Then there's the deep sea shrimp, Acantherphyra purpurea. When it feels threatened, it spews a cloud of glowing goo from its mouth. Who doesn't run the other way when they've just been puked on? Plus, that puke ________ bigger predators who want to eat the shrimp's _____. So what if you can't bioluminesce? No problem! There are other ways for ______ things to make bioluminescence work for them, even if they weren't born with the equipment to glow. Let's revisit the anglerfish moments before it tried to eat you. That glowing bait on top of its head? It comes from a pocket of skin called the esca. The esca holds ______________ bacteria. The anglerfish can't glow there by itself, so it holds a sack of glowing bacteria instead. Remember the firefly? It can actually make itself glow. Inside its lantern are two _________, a luciferin and a __________. When firefly luciferase and luciferin mix together in the ________ of oxygen and fuel for the cell, called ATP, the chemical reaction gives off energy in the form of light. Once scientists figured out how the firefly creates its luciferase and luciferin, they used genetic engineering to make this light-producing ________ occur inside other living things that can't glow. For example, they inserted the genes, or instructions, for a cell to create firefly luciferase and luciferin into a tobacco plant. Once there, the tobacco plant followed the ____________ _______ into its DNA and lit up like a Christmas tree. The ______ of bioluminescence, unlike the _____ from the sun or an incandescent bulb, is that it's not hot. It takes place in a range of temperatures that don't burn a living thing. And unlike a glow stick, which fades out as the chemicals inside get used up, bioluminescent reactions use _____________ resources. That's one reason _________ are trying to develop bioluminescent trees. Just think, if _______ on the side of highways, they could light the way, using only oxygen and other ______ available, clean _________ to run. Talk about survival advantage! That could help our planet live ______. Do you find yourself thinking of other ways to put bioluminescence to good use? That glow stick you swing at a rave may help you find a mate, but how else can bioluminescence improve your survival? If you start thinking in this way, you have seen the light.

Solution

  1. reaction
  2. chemicals
  3. instructions
  4. luciferase
  5. freely
  6. light
  7. nature
  8. slipped
  9. beauty
  10. phrixothrix
  11. imagine
  12. bottom
  13. planted
  14. night
  15. attracts
  16. survival
  17. resources
  18. bioluminescence
  19. enemy
  20. bioluminescent
  21. create
  22. engineers
  23. living
  24. firefly
  25. helps
  26. eaten
  27. longer
  28. lights
  29. green
  30. presence
  31. place
  32. replenishable

Original Text

Imagine a place so dark you can't see the nose on your face. Eyes opened or closed, it's all the same because the sun never shines there. Up ahead, you see a light. When you creep in to investigate, a blue light flits around you. "I could watch this forever," you think. But you can't because the mouth of an anglerfish has just sprung open and eaten you alive. You are just one of many creatures at the bottom of the ocean who learn too late to appreciate the power of bioluminescence. Bioluminescence refers to the ability of certain living things to create light. The human body can make stuff like ear wax and toe nails, but these organisms can turn parts of their body into glow sticks. It's like nature made them ready to rave. Why? In one way or another, bioluminescence improves a living thing's chances of survival. Take the firefly. It's ability to glow green helps it attract a mate on a warm, summer night, but it's just one of many living things that can glow. The railroad worm, Phrixothrix hirtus, can light up its body in two colors: red and green. Would you eat something that looks like an airport runway? Neither would any sensible predator. The flashing lights keep the worm safe. Then there's the deep sea shrimp, Acantherphyra purpurea. When it feels threatened, it spews a cloud of glowing goo from its mouth. Who doesn't run the other way when they've just been puked on? Plus, that puke attracts bigger predators who want to eat the shrimp's enemy. So what if you can't bioluminesce? No problem! There are other ways for living things to make bioluminescence work for them, even if they weren't born with the equipment to glow. Let's revisit the anglerfish moments before it tried to eat you. That glowing bait on top of its head? It comes from a pocket of skin called the esca. The esca holds bioluminescent bacteria. The anglerfish can't glow there by itself, so it holds a sack of glowing bacteria instead. Remember the firefly? It can actually make itself glow. Inside its lantern are two chemicals, a luciferin and a luciferase. When firefly luciferase and luciferin mix together in the presence of oxygen and fuel for the cell, called ATP, the chemical reaction gives off energy in the form of light. Once scientists figured out how the firefly creates its luciferase and luciferin, they used genetic engineering to make this light-producing reaction occur inside other living things that can't glow. For example, they inserted the genes, or instructions, for a cell to create firefly luciferase and luciferin into a tobacco plant. Once there, the tobacco plant followed the instructions slipped into its DNA and lit up like a Christmas tree. The beauty of bioluminescence, unlike the light from the sun or an incandescent bulb, is that it's not hot. It takes place in a range of temperatures that don't burn a living thing. And unlike a glow stick, which fades out as the chemicals inside get used up, bioluminescent reactions use replenishable resources. That's one reason engineers are trying to develop bioluminescent trees. Just think, if planted on the side of highways, they could light the way, using only oxygen and other freely available, clean resources to run. Talk about survival advantage! That could help our planet live longer. Do you find yourself thinking of other ways to put bioluminescence to good use? That glow stick you swing at a rave may help you find a mate, but how else can bioluminescence improve your survival? If you start thinking in this way, you have seen the light.

Frequently Occurring Word Combinations

ngrams of length 2

collocation frequency
firefly luciferase 2
tobacco plant 2

Important Words

  1. ability
  2. acantherphyra
  3. airport
  4. alive
  5. anglerfish
  6. atp
  7. attract
  8. attracts
  9. bacteria
  10. bait
  11. beauty
  12. bigger
  13. bioluminesce
  14. bioluminescence
  15. bioluminescent
  16. blue
  17. body
  18. born
  19. bottom
  20. bulb
  21. burn
  22. called
  23. cell
  24. chances
  25. chemical
  26. chemicals
  27. christmas
  28. clean
  29. closed
  30. cloud
  31. create
  32. creates
  33. creatures
  34. creep
  35. dark
  36. deep
  37. develop
  38. dna
  39. ear
  40. eat
  41. eaten
  42. enemy
  43. energy
  44. engineering
  45. engineers
  46. equipment
  47. esca
  48. eyes
  49. face
  50. fades
  51. feels
  52. figured
  53. find
  54. firefly
  55. flashing
  56. flits
  57. form
  58. freely
  59. fuel
  60. genes
  61. genetic
  62. glow
  63. glowing
  64. goo
  65. good
  66. green
  67. head
  68. helps
  69. highways
  70. hirtus
  71. holds
  72. hot
  73. human
  74. imagine
  75. improve
  76. improves
  77. incandescent
  78. inserted
  79. instructions
  80. investigate
  81. lantern
  82. late
  83. learn
  84. light
  85. lights
  86. lit
  87. live
  88. living
  89. longer
  90. luciferase
  91. luciferin
  92. mate
  93. mix
  94. moments
  95. mouth
  96. nails
  97. nature
  98. night
  99. nose
  100. occur
  101. ocean
  102. open
  103. opened
  104. organisms
  105. oxygen
  106. parts
  107. phrixothrix
  108. place
  109. planet
  110. plant
  111. planted
  112. pocket
  113. power
  114. predator
  115. predators
  116. presence
  117. puke
  118. puked
  119. purpurea
  120. put
  121. railroad
  122. range
  123. rave
  124. reaction
  125. reactions
  126. ready
  127. reason
  128. red
  129. refers
  130. remember
  131. replenishable
  132. resources
  133. revisit
  134. run
  135. runway
  136. sack
  137. safe
  138. scientists
  139. sea
  140. shines
  141. shrimp
  142. side
  143. skin
  144. slipped
  145. spews
  146. sprung
  147. start
  148. stick
  149. sticks
  150. stuff
  151. summer
  152. sun
  153. survival
  154. swing
  155. takes
  156. talk
  157. temperatures
  158. thinking
  159. threatened
  160. tobacco
  161. toe
  162. top
  163. tree
  164. trees
  165. turn
  166. warm
  167. watch
  168. wax
  169. ways
  170. work
  171. worm