Glowing Slug Blood Experiment

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Introduction: Glowing Slug Blood Experiment

About: Bill Nye the Science guy is my Hero... that and Bear Grylls...would be cool if they combined to become Bear Nye the Wilderscience Guy using science and technology to drink his own pee.

This is a simple experiment that demonstrates biology and florescence. You can make slug blood glow bright green/blue using a standard UV light. All you need are three things:

1. A SLUG!

2. Rubbing Alcohol

3. A UV light

Human blood is made up of proteins that hold IRON atoms. The iron has a natural attraction or affinity for oxygen molecules, that is how our blood "carries" O2! If you have ever seen iron rust (due to oxygen) then you can understand why our blood is bright red when it's oxygenated.

Human blood is called BLOOD.......duh! But slugs/snails and most other mollusks have blood that is called HEMOCYANIN. The proteins in slug blood carry COPPER atoms instead of iron. They too attract oxygen. The copper gives the blood a bluish green color. Interesting thing about copper atoms is they fluoresce under UV light.

When the copper atoms are "charged up" with high energy ULTRAviolet light, the coppers' electrons jump to a higher energy state but then hop back down to their normal states, when this happens a packet of light called a photon is released to sorta balance everything out. Long story short: UV light goes in, Blue/green light comes out!

Step 1: The Experiment

  • First, go find yourself a garden slug. These things can be pretty bad pests and ruin a gardener's hard work, so I wouldn't feel too bad about donating their lives to science.
  • You can freeze them to kill them.
  • Next (this part is not for the squeamish) place the slug in a zip loc bag full of rubbing alcohol and squish and squash him up real good, this releases the blood into a solution. It also makes for a great stress reliever. Pour the solution through a coffee filter into a clear container.
  • Last, MAKE IT GLOW using any UV light. I use a cheap flashlight version.

P.S. I was thinking of making a "slug blood lamp of science", how cool would that be? Kinda creepy but cool!

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    12 Comments

    0
    c0h0nes
    c0h0nes

    2 months ago

    You can experience fluorescence from many slugs and snails without killing them. When a garden snail (the common Cornus aspersum), is stimulated or threatened by picking it up, it may produce bubbles with a faint yellow tinge. If you soak up a little of this yellow slime on a clean white paper towel or tissue, it will colour it very faintly yellow. However with a UV torch or lamp at a wavelength of 395-405nm, it will fluoresce with a bright bluish green glow that becomes more like a day-glo yellow fluorescence as it dries. If you picked up the snail with your fingers, examine your fingertips for fluorescent yellow stains, which are rather hard to wash off, and may require scrubbing. You could probably do some original research by checking the fluorescence of different species of snail and slug slime: for instance the slime of the yellow cellar slug (Limacus flavus) is a similar greenish yellow colour to the snail above. You may need to irritate or stress the gastropod a little for it to produce the pigment. Perhaps there are different variations across species? Can you separate the pigments by chromatography, or extract them with solvents? What about pond, river and marine gastropods? I do not believe that there has been a comprehensive survey of this. Now that Ultraviolet LED torches and lamps are cheap, and easily available for only a few pounds from online marketplaces, it is easy to perform these investigations at home. It is a good idea to wear eye protection with UV light. Almost all sunglasses filter out damaging ultraviolet light, and those without coloured tints will allow the fluorescing pigments to be seen easily. Another biological use of UV light is to examine teeth (which fluoresce greenish yellow) for dental plaque (which may fluoresce bright coral pink), and feet and nails for bacterial and fungal growth, which may exhibit a range of colours! Then woodland fungi also may have a range of fluorescent pigments, visible after darkness falls in spooky woods.) If you don't want to return your terrestrial garden gastropods to the garden, you can take them to some less accessible waste ground, like railway banks and cuttings, roadside grassy and wooded spaces, but preferably not parks where dogs frequent, since gastropods carry serious parasites for canines.

    0
    samx.goose
    samx.goose

    10 months ago

    so, is it a slug jug?????

    0
    Nreal Spark
    Nreal Spark

    5 years ago

    Although this seems weird, this could be handy in the future for some projects. Thanks for letting us know!

    0
    Arya42
    Arya42

    5 years ago

    Very interesting project, didn't know slugs could do that.

    I can't squish a slug for it though, they're too cute (I have pet slugs and snails).

    0
    kcraske
    kcraske

    5 years ago

    Just seeing a comment where it was thought UV would show up human bodily fluids hence blood. It is true, but it is not human blood that flouresces with UV but another human bodily fluid.

    0
    theblckwlf
    theblckwlf

    5 years ago

    This is an awesome instructable! I love the blue color of the glow and that you can make it with slugs and I'm going to try to work this into a project based learning class.

    Out of curiosity, what is the difference between the slug blood fluorescent color and say human blood? I thought UV lights can be used to detect human bodily fluids as well. Obviously you wouldnt want to use human blood for the project, but is there a difference in how the two types of blood fluorecese under UV light?

    0
    drdan152
    drdan152

    Reply 5 years ago

    Thanks! And yeah human blood doesn't fluoresce under uv light..... In crime scenes CSI types will spray "luminol" on potential blood stains and they may glow under regular light. They may use UV light and other wavelengths or "alternate light sources" as the call it to see fluids and stains easier by contrast etc. long story short if you suspended human blood in rubbing alcohol it would not glow under UV light! From what i know hemoglobin (the main protein that makes blood) ABSORBS uv light so it would look black :-(

    0
    theblckwlf
    theblckwlf

    Reply 5 years ago

    Ah! Thank you, that was a very illuminating answer

    0
    jyjyok
    jyjyok

    5 years ago

    This is extremely gross but its also extremely awesome at the same time!

    0
    drdan152
    drdan152

    Reply 5 years ago

    Thank you! That means a lot to me coming from a PRO!