Chilean miners & sunlight

For the discussion of the sciences. Physics problems, chemistry equations, biology weirdness, it all goes here.

Moderators: gmalivuk, Moderators General, Prelates

Levelheaded
Posts: 185
Joined: Thu May 27, 2010 3:42 pm UTC

Chilean miners & sunlight

Postby Levelheaded » Thu Oct 14, 2010 3:02 pm UTC

Last night my wife and I were talking about the Chilean miners. She told me that she saw a news story about how Oakley donated special glasses for the miners because after being in a dark environment for so long even a little bit of sunlight would burn out their retinas.

I told her that Oakley donated the sunglasses as marketing, and sunlight isn't any more likely to burn out their retina than walking out of a movie theater or other dark place on a sunny day. It's always been my understanding that after about 20-30 minutes, the human eye has fully adjusted to darkness.

Of course their eyes would be sensitive and need to adjust, and it's always stupid to look directly at the sun, but there shouldn't be any overwhelming / unusual risk of retinal damage.

I may just being cynical, but is anyone aware of legitimate risks from even a bit of sunlight? It's not like the chamber they were in was absolute darkness - they had some lighting so the muscles that control pupil size wouldn't fully degenerate, and it wasn't like they spent a whole lifetime down there.

Moose Hole
Posts: 398
Joined: Fri Jul 09, 2010 1:34 pm UTC

Re: Chilean miners & sunlight

Postby Moose Hole » Thu Oct 14, 2010 3:05 pm UTC

Of course a little bit of sunlight can damage your retina. When babies are born, they are in a hospital or maybe in a swimming pool in a house, but never in direct sunlight. That would damage their retinas, unless they come out wearing Oakleys.

User avatar
Izawwlgood
WINNING
Posts: 18686
Joined: Mon Nov 19, 2007 3:55 pm UTC
Location: There may be lovelier lovelies...

Re: Chilean miners & sunlight

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Oct 14, 2010 3:07 pm UTC

I wouldn't be surprised if there was some adaptation to the darkness that meant a few months down there resulted in a slightly longer time adjusting to the light, but yeah, they aren't going to suffer any physical damage. I'm fairly confident that even if someone was housed in total or near darkness their whole lives, and then tossed into ambient light conditions, they would adjust within a few hours.
... with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandalled feet.

User avatar
BlackSails
Posts: 5315
Joined: Thu Dec 20, 2007 5:48 am UTC

Re: Chilean miners & sunlight

Postby BlackSails » Thu Oct 14, 2010 4:21 pm UTC

Long term darkness causes long term adaptation of the eyes. I dont think it would burn out their retinas, but it would certainly be rather unpleasant.

User avatar
Izawwlgood
WINNING
Posts: 18686
Joined: Mon Nov 19, 2007 3:55 pm UTC
Location: There may be lovelier lovelies...

Re: Chilean miners & sunlight

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Oct 14, 2010 4:56 pm UTC

I'm not disputing that, I just think it'd be a painful few... hours...
... with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandalled feet.

User avatar
Coffee
Posts: 637
Joined: Mon Aug 18, 2008 5:56 am UTC
Location: Far away

Re: Chilean miners & sunlight

Postby Coffee » Thu Oct 14, 2010 5:06 pm UTC

Probably about on par with how you feel leaving the optometrist’s office after getting your eyes dilated.
Far away boys, far away boys, away from you now.
I'm lying with my sweetheart, in her arms I'll be found.

User avatar
krogoth
Posts: 411
Joined: Wed Feb 04, 2009 9:58 pm UTC
Location: Australia

Re: Chilean miners & sunlight

Postby krogoth » Fri Oct 15, 2010 3:41 am UTC

Or maybe similar to the effects on people at the poles? total sun for 6 months, total darkness for the next 6? I know they wear Sunny's but I think thats more to do with snow blindness(sun reflecting off the white snow)
R3sistance - I don't care at all for the ignorance spreading done by many and to the best of my abilities I try to correct this as much as I can, but I know and understand that even I can not be completely honest, truthful and factual all of the time.

User avatar
Meteorswarm
Posts: 979
Joined: Sun Dec 27, 2009 12:28 am UTC
Location: Ithaca, NY

Re: Chilean miners & sunlight

Postby Meteorswarm » Fri Oct 15, 2010 3:53 am UTC

If it was damaging, wouldn't they just shut their eyes reflexively?
The same as the old Meteorswarm, now with fewer posts!

User avatar
EdgarJPublius
Official Propagandi.... Nifty Poster Guy
Posts: 3643
Joined: Tue Oct 09, 2007 4:56 am UTC
Location: where the wind takes me

Re: Chilean miners & sunlight

Postby EdgarJPublius » Fri Oct 15, 2010 6:10 am UTC

Their can be psychosomatic effects from bright light after being in darkness for long periods.
Roosevelt wrote:
I wrote:Does Space Teddy Roosevelt wrestle Space Bears and fight the Space Spanish-American War with his band of Space-volunteers the Space Rough Riders?

Yes.

-still unaware of the origin and meaning of his own user-title

User avatar
You, sir, name?
Posts: 6983
Joined: Sun Apr 22, 2007 10:07 am UTC
Location: Chako Paul City
Contact:

Re: Chilean miners & sunlight

Postby You, sir, name? » Fri Oct 15, 2010 8:22 am UTC

Couldn't it be some sort of muscle atrophy? If your pupils are constantly dilated, then it would seem possible for the muscles that resize the pupil would become "out of shape" so to speak.
I edit my posts a lot and sometimes the words wrong order words appear in sentences get messed up.

User avatar
Solt
Posts: 1912
Joined: Tue Mar 27, 2007 5:08 am UTC
Location: California

Re: Chilean miners & sunlight

Postby Solt » Fri Oct 15, 2010 9:38 am UTC

Heard on the radio today that Oakley got $41 million worth of free advertising based on the coverage time of the event during which their glasses were visible. The glasses cost $180 each.

Does that answer your question?
"Welding was faster, cheaper and, in theory,
produced a more reliable product. But sailors do
not float on theory, and the welded tankers had a
most annoying habit of splitting in two."
-J.W. Morris

User avatar
ian
Posts: 706
Joined: Fri Mar 07, 2008 3:55 pm UTC
Location: Sealand

Re: Chilean miners & sunlight

Postby ian » Fri Oct 15, 2010 10:05 am UTC

krogoth wrote:Or maybe similar to the effects on people at the poles? total sun for 6 months, total darkness for the next 6? I know they wear Sunny's but I think thats more to do with snow blindness(sun reflecting off the white snow)

That's a gradual change though, so totally different. There is sunlight long before the sun rises.

User avatar
Izawwlgood
WINNING
Posts: 18686
Joined: Mon Nov 19, 2007 3:55 pm UTC
Location: There may be lovelier lovelies...

Re: Chilean miners & sunlight

Postby Izawwlgood » Fri Oct 15, 2010 11:44 am UTC

ian wrote:
krogoth wrote:Or maybe similar to the effects on people at the poles? total sun for 6 months, total darkness for the next 6? I know they wear Sunny's but I think thats more to do with snow blindness(sun reflecting off the white snow)

That's a gradual change though, so totally different. There is sunlight long before the sun rises.

And they still have lightbulbs.
... with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandalled feet.

Mr_Rose
Posts: 380
Joined: Thu May 29, 2008 9:32 am UTC

Re: Chilean miners & sunlight

Postby Mr_Rose » Fri Oct 15, 2010 1:02 pm UTC

That's a point; what sort of light was available down there? I know for the first two weeks or so no-one knew for sure where they were at, or even that they were alive, so they had whatever was in the survival bunker when they got there. But once they were located and communications opened, did no-one think to send down some lights?
They'd never be as bright as full daylight for sure, but they'd stave off the worst of long-term dark adaptation for quite a while.
Microevolution is a term — when used by creationists — that is the evolutionary equivalent of the belief that the mechanism you use to walk from your bedroom to the kitchen is insufficient to get you from New York to Los Angeles.

PossibleSloth
Posts: 88
Joined: Mon May 11, 2009 6:51 am UTC
Location: Boston (or thereabouts)

Re: Chilean miners & sunlight

Postby PossibleSloth » Fri Oct 15, 2010 4:38 pm UTC

You, sir, name? wrote:Couldn't it be some sort of muscle atrophy? If your pupils are constantly dilated, then it would seem possible for the muscles that resize the pupil would become "out of shape" so to speak.

The pupilary reflex only accounts for a relatively small amount of light/dark adaptation. It's mostly due to changes in the chemical signaling mechanism within the rods and cones.

The way eyes adapt to bright light, in addition to contracting the pupil, is basically by depleting the amount of usable rhodopsin in the retina.

User avatar
Antimony-120
Posts: 830
Joined: Wed Apr 09, 2008 4:16 am UTC
Location: Wherever you can look - wherever there's a fight, so hungry people can eat.

Re: Chilean miners & sunlight

Postby Antimony-120 » Sat Oct 16, 2010 1:41 am UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:
ian wrote:
krogoth wrote:Or maybe similar to the effects on people at the poles? total sun for 6 months, total darkness for the next 6? I know they wear Sunny's but I think thats more to do with snow blindness(sun reflecting off the white snow)

That's a gradual change though, so totally different. There is sunlight long before the sun rises.

And they still have lightbulbs.


People have lived in the high arctic since long before there were lightbulbs. It's also worth noting that even at "high noon" on the north pole (That is, at the summer solstice) the light intensity is much lower than it is at noon at lower latitudes. The real danger is, as mentioned, snowblindness.
Wolydarg wrote:That was like a roller coaster of mathematical reasoning. Problems! Solutions! More problems!


****************Signature Dehosted, New Signature Under Construction************************

User avatar
gmalivuk
GNU Terry Pratchett
Posts: 26443
Joined: Wed Feb 28, 2007 6:02 pm UTC
Location: Here and There
Contact:

Re: Chilean miners & sunlight

Postby gmalivuk » Sun Oct 17, 2010 7:00 am UTC

PossibleSloth wrote:The way eyes adapt to bright light, in addition to contracting the pupil, is basically by depleting the amount of usable rhodopsin in the retina.
And that's the process that takes the most time, since the iris reacts fairly quickly to changes in light level.
Unless stated otherwise, I do not care whether a statement, by itself, constitutes a persuasive political argument. I care whether it's true.
---
If this post has math that doesn't work for you, use TeX the World for Firefox or Chrome

(he/him/his)


Return to “Science”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 14 guests