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April 2000 Vol. 26, No. 4   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Bioluminescent Playthings

from the April, 2000 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

All work and no play is hardly the problem at Prolume, the glow-in-the-dark toy company that’s using luminescent sea creatures to make novelty toys — all for the benefit of science. Prolume’s 46-yearold CEO, Dr. Bruce Bryan, has been fascinated with glowing critters since his days as a teenage scuba diver off Zuma Beach, CA. As head of Prolume, he garners everything from jellyfish and dragon fish to sea worms, squid, and sea pansies to furnish luminescent genes, which are then copied and used for a full line of de-lightful toys. Last month it was $4.99 squirt guns loaded with powdered genes replicated from a Washington state jellyfish. When hydrated ammo from the squirt guns hits anything containing calcium, including people, it creates instant bioluminescence. Proceeds from the toy sales will be used to develop glowing genes that might identify malignant tumors, detect the presence of nerve gas, or be used in allergy or drug tests. The Army successfully used the tactic in the 70s to detect explosives.

If you missed the first batch of 2000 squirt guns that were snapped up like hotcakes by shoppers, don’t worry. Keep your eyes peeled for a host of glow-in-the-dark products still under development — everything from water rifles to consumer products like ink, cake frosting, and hair mousse.

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