Finding a Lost Tooth With Science!

Sometimes the hack is a masterwork of circuit design, crafting, 3D printing and programming. Other times, the hack is knowing which tool is right for the job, even when the job isn’t your regular, run-of-the-mill, job. [John]’s son lost his tooth on their gravel driveway, so [John] set out to find it.

socks-fluoresce-under-uv-light-640x480
White socks fluoresce under UV

When [John] set out to help his son and find the tooth, he needed a plan of attack – there was a large area to cover and, when [John] looked over the expanse of gravel the terms “needle” and “haystack” came to mind. Just scanning the ground wasn’t going to work, he needed a way to differentiate the tooth from the background. Luckily, he had a UV flashlight handy and, after testing it on his own teeth, realized that his son’s tooth would fluoresce under UV light and the gravel wouldn’t.

Off [John] went at night to find the tooth with his flashlight. He soon realized that many things fluoresce under UV light – bits of plastic, quartz crystal in the rocks, his socks. [John] eventually found the tooth, and his son is happier now. No soldering was involved, no development on breadboards, no high-voltage, but this is one of those hacks that is more about problem solving than throwing microcontrollers at a situation. In the end, though, everyone’s happy, and that’s what counts.

18 thoughts on “Finding a Lost Tooth With Science!

  1. Had a lot of fun with a portable UV light out at night as a kid. Yes indeed there are all sorts of things that fluoresce under UV light that you might not expect including a number of flowers and insects.

    1. scorpions fluoresce under UV light and not dimly either!!!
      So do diamonds, I spent a few rainy nights out in the Jupiter Creek goldfields with my 6″ Wood’s glass tube and a rake

      1. Did you end up finding any diamonds?

        I know that diamonds fluoresce under Xrays. The tech is used to automatically find diamonds in crushed rock gravel at some mines. I didn’t know they might fluoresce under UV.

      1. Yes, if those narrow frequencies suited your purpose. Another idea I had was a xenon arc lamp shining into a fibre optic cable and rotatable prism and mask arrangement that you could sweep through the colour values. The bulb, fibre and prism would need to be quartz to get the greatest spectral range.

  2. Why clothes, especially white and light colors, fluoresce is the “brighteners” in detergents are transparent fluorescent dyes. They react with the UV rays in sunlight to make the cloth appear brighter and more vivid.

    1. There it is! I almost thought we wouldn’t have the obligatory not a hack comment.

      How about you just click the back button in the future. It’s much quicker and easier….

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