Maybe there's something for hippies to love about ecological disaster, after all. Chris Combs, photography editor at National Geographic News, took these amazing shots while on assignment in the Gulf of Mexico. Via Submitterator, he says:
...researcher Ping Wang pointed me towards his grad student's work with UV light. Turns out that the oil glows bright, head-shop fluorescent orange under UV light. Rip Kirby's ultra-powerful $1800 "Klingon Death Ray" ultraviolet spotlight lit up every particle of oil-stained sand, even in seemingly clean areas, and our footprints showed up Day-Glo orange.
This isn't just for "woah, dude" value. Applying UV light to contaminated beaches is also a clever way to spot—and clean up—oil that might otherwise go unnoticed by notoriously flimsy human eyes. You can read more—and see more pictures—in Combs' photo essay.
Maggie Koerth-Baker is the science editor at BoingBoing.net. She writes a monthly column for The New York Times Magazine and is the author of Before the Lights Go Out, a book about electricity, infrastructure, and the future of energy. You can find Maggie on Twitter and Facebook.