The Book that Glowed

Cade F.O.N Apollyon, one of the authors in the most recent Underdog Anthology, noticed something odd about the print version.

In a certain light, there is a blue glow along the spine of the book. Here’s a photo Cade took –

It’s odd, so I tried it with a copy here –

It works here too. I have no idea what causes it but I have to try to replicate it. I also have to see if it can be made to glow in different colours. A red glow would be particularly useful.

Have any of the authors noticed this phenomenon, or any other readers seen it? I’d like to hear about it if you have (or haven’t). I’d also be interested to hear from anyone who might have an explanation of why it happens with this particular book, especially if you know how I could make it happen and whether I can vary the colour.

In the meantime, I’m sure it’s perfectly normal and not at all weird. You won’t get sucked into the stories and none of the characters in the book can escape. Probably.

The eBook version is safe. It has no spine so nothing is glowing.

Although it might be possible to make it so… I feel a bit of experimentation is in order.

9 thoughts on “The Book that Glowed

  1. Optical blue whiteners in the materials in the paper. If you shine an ultraviolet light onto the paper, it will glow. Most paper with the notable exception of banknote paper glows in this way; this is why shops test suspect banknotes with a UV light, because the dafter forgers quite often use inferior paper for their forgeries.

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  2. There are a couple of possibilities. Paper isn’t white to start with, and considerable effort is made to remove the distinctly yellow tinge that the oxidative breakdown of lignin imparts.

    From the colour shown in the photos, my gut feeling for the most likely candidate is the optical brighteners that have been added to the paper; either during the pulp manufacture, pressed in during the sheet formation step or applied in the coating and filling processes. Optical brighteners, as in the Daz “whiter than white” blurb, are fluorescent molecules that emit (blue) visible light after absorbing certain frequencies of UV. By adding to the reflectivity spectrum of the substrate in the blue region, they both “cancel out” the yellow appearance of the paper and increase the overall amount of light coming from the surface – which the human brain then perceives as a cleaner and stronger white.

    The other possibility is a shading dye added to the paper during manufacture. This is done to flatten the reflectivity spectrum as well, enhancing the whiteness by altering the hue, but as the dye does this by removing parts of the reflected light then the overall brightness goes down. Shading dyes have the large advantage of being cheap, and in applications such as book paper may well be used more heavily – along side a reduced amount of optical brightener.

    I don’t have a convincing argument for the physics involved that cause the effect to arise in the spine, but I’m guessing that the curve of the paper away from the observer gradually reduces the amount of (visible) light reflected back to the point where the fluorescence from the optical brighteners dominates. UV is scattered far more than visible light, so would illuminate further down the curve than visible – leading to a blue glow over what would otherwise be an increasingly dark grey. I see that the blue glow also drops off as the centre of the spine gap narrows – possibly because even the scattered UV can’t get between the pages?

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  3. After reading all of the comments, I’m gonna go WAY out on a limb here, and state emphatically that it’s likely a combination of factors. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • And ya know…looking at it now? There’s kindof a prism effect the way the pages come together. Except you would be looking at the bottom of the prism itself instead of the traditional side-view we are used to seeing when “white light is bent into a rainbow”. The tip of the top of the prism would actually be stuck within the crease of the pages where they meet, and maybe why all these factors have come to coalesce as they have.

      That actually helps me a bit with some thinking I’ve done on “dark matter/dark energy” and how and why it surrounds us like anything/everything else.

      I’ll save my particle ranting bullshit for elsewhere tho. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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