Light Friday: Fireflies Inspire Brighter LEDs
Credit: art farmer
Credit: art farmer

Plus: The Year’s Strangest Interview Questions, What Mars Mission Training Reveals about Human Life, and Should You Walk or Run in the Rain?

Researchers have found a way to produce more energy-efficient and brighter light-emitting diodes (LEDs) by mimicking the natural structures of fireflies. A group of international scientists who tailored existing LEDs using the lightning bugs as their reference found that light emission increased by up to 55 percent.

Firefly scales provide the solution to better lighting. While all fireflies emit light through the cuticles of their exoskeleton, these cuticles also reflect a percentage of the light inward, which ultimately dims the glow. However, when analyzing the exoskeletons of Photuris fireflies, scientists noticed that the species’ jagged, misfit scales produce more light than other shapes.

These Photuris fireflies, which are commonly found in the U.S. and Latin America, have a unique physiology that allows them to emit more light. Developers created a replica of the firefly’s jagged overlayer, which they placed on top of a standard gallium nitride LED, Science Blog reports. The result was greater light emission, more than other previous biomimicry attempts.

Such modifications could reach LED manufacturers in the next few years, the scientists said, and post-production modifications can be made on existing LEDs, according to MIT Technology Review.

Strangest Interview Questions

At the start of the new year, many job seekers are looking to reinvigorate their efforts to find a new position, and this means they’ll have to jump a number of hurdles before landing their dream job.  Last week, we looked at some of the misguided (and sometimes bizarre) ways a candidate can botch an interview. Now, let’s delve into the strangest and most difficult questions an interviewer can ask.

About one in five employees plan to look for a new job in the next three months, but many of them won’t be prepared for some of the strange questions asked in interviews. Career research firm Glassdoor has compiled the weirdest and most challenging interview questions from the past year, including:

  • “If you were to get rid of one state in the U.S., which would it be and why?” Asked at Forrester.
  • “How many cows are in Canada?” Asked at Google.
  • “A penguin walks through that door right now wearing a sombrero.  What does he say and why is he here?” Asked at Clark Construction Group.
  • “Can you say: ’Peter Pepper Picked a Pickled Pepper’ and cross-sell a washing machine at the same time?” Asked at MasterCard.
  • “What do you think about when you are alone in your car?” Asked at Gallup.
  • “Calculate the angle of two clock pointers when time is 11:50.” Asked at Bank of America.
  • “If you could be anyone else, who would it be?” Asked at
  • “If we came to your house for dinner, what would you prepare for us?” Asked at Trader Joe’s.
  • “How would people communicate in a perfect world?” Asked at Novell.
  • “How do you make a tuna sandwich?” Asked at Astron Consulting.
  • “What’s your favorite song?  Perform it for us now.” Asked at LivingSocial.
  • “Name 3 previous Nobel Prize Winners.” Asked at BenefitsCONNECT.
  • “If you had turned your cell phone to silent, and it rang really loudly despite it being on silent, what would you tell me?” Asked at Kimberly-Clark.

Think you’d be able to tackle these queries? Let us know if or how you would answer these questions in the comments section below.

What Mars Mission Training Reveals about Human Life

For the Mars500 project, the Russian Academy of Sciences and Russia’s space agency Roscosmos locked six people in a room for 520 days to test the physical, psychological, and emotional effects of conducting a manned mission to Mars. The results have yielded some surprising insights about day-to-day life and human biology.

For starters, it appears pre-screening isn’t especially accurate in forecasting someone’s performance. Although the participants were tested and evaluated beforehand, none of these tests predicted how they would react during the actual experiment. One participant shifted to a 25-hour day cycle, meaning that every 12 days he was asleep during designated awake periods. One member of the crew developed depression, while another napped constantly.

Being cooped up under artificial light for prolonged periods may be the reason why the test subjects lost so much of their drive, and this has significant implications for Earth-bound life, particularly in the workplace.

“If you’re feeling some of the same symptoms that the Mars500 team suffered, such as disrupted sleep, lethargy, and degraded performance, the causes could be similar to those that made the cooped-up cosmonauts loopy,” Popular Mechanics explains. “The lesson for the rest of us: Get outside more during the day.”

The project also yielded medical breakthroughs. Doctors generally regard the kidneys as the main organs that regulate salt, flushing sodium from the body through urine about once a day. However, studying the Mars500 participants, doctors learned that the kidneys work in concert with other tissues to preserve sodium in the body on a different cycle than previously thought.

“With Mars500, we are now seeing that humans store and release salt rhythmically over weeks and months, regardless of diet – and without affecting blood pressure,” Professor Jens Titze of the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, who studied the data, told Mars Daily.

Should You Run or Walk in the Rain?

The perennial question: do you end up drier when you walk at a normal pace in the rain, or when you dash as fast as you can until you get indoors? Some people argue that when you’re walking less of your body is exposed to the raindrops, while others say that running means you spend less time in the rain, resulting in less wetness.

The debate is so pervasive that the MythBusters actually tested it in their first episode and claimed that it’s better to walk. However, when they revisited the topic in a later season, they reversed their position, stating that it’s better to run.

To help straighten out the many contradictory opinions, the folks at MinutePhysics have broken down the science underlying walking and running in the rain—and provide a conclusive answer.

Have a great weekend, folks.



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  • January 18, 2013

    [...] Light Friday: Fireflies Inspire Brighter LEDs Asked at Google. “A penguin walks through that door right now wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he here?” Asked at Clark Construction Group. “Can you say: 'Peter Pepper Picked a Pickled Pepper' and cross-sell a washing machine at the … Read more on ThomasNet Industrial News Room [...]

  • Regula
    January 18, 2013

    State to get rid of: DC. Why? The people of the US would have to come to terms that they have to define a new and more democratic government.
    Cows in Canada? I don’t know, but a lot of cows are in Canada.
    Penguin: Caramba. Have a good day, Sir. Why? trying to adapt to climate and ethnicity change in the 49 states.
    Peter Pepper Answer: No Sir, I can’t.
    Gallup: All what I still have to do this day and where I go first.
    11:50: 340 degrees, 350 degrees respectively.
    Friedrich Nietzsche
    Dinner for Trader”s Joe: Poulet Provencale made with free range, naturally fed chickens.
    Communication: Politely.
    Tuna sandwich: Depends who it’s for.
    Curie, Einstein, Mama Africa.
    I am very sorry, it was supposed to be silent but didn’t obey.

    How little these employers try to find out with questions!

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