Researchers Conduct Experiment to Find Eyelashes’ True Function

May 4, 2015

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. function /ˈfʌŋk ʃən/ (n.) – the purpose of something or someone
Example: The function of eyelashes is to protect our eyes.

2. tunnel / ˈtʌn l/ (n.) – a passage through something
Example: Tornadoes create a wind tunnel.

3. evaporation /ɪˌvæp əˈreɪ ʃən/ (n.) – the act of changing liquid into vapor
Example: The eyelashes stop the evaporation of moisture in our eyes.

4. mammal /ˈmæm əl/ (n.) – a type of animal that feeds its offspring with milk and is covered by fur
Example: The researchers studied the origins of mammals.

5.  prompt / prɒmpt/ (v.) – to alert something or someone to create an action
Example: Blinking prompts the eyes to produce tears for moisture.


Read the text below.
According to a study done in the Georgia Institute of Technology, the true function of eyelashes is to protect the eyes—but only indirectly.

Led by Dr. David Hu, the team discovered that eyelashes reduce the airflow near the eyes. The eyelashes do this by blocking the air as the eye blinks. This keeps the eye moist and dust-free.

The study also shows that the eyelashes’ ideal length is one-third the size of the eye. If the length is more than one-third, the eyelashes do the opposite of sweeping away air and dust from the eye. Instead, it creates a tunnel that sucks in air towards the eye.

In order to reach these conclusions, Dr. Hu and his team built a model of an eye and a wind tunnel. Then, the team observed the airflow around and through the lashes. They also studied how the airflow affected the evaporation of the eye’s moisture.

The research team used eyelashes with various lengths. They also took note how the length and width affects the eyelashes’ performance. However, to determine the ideal length, the team also studied the eyelashes of over twenty different species of mammals.

Before Dr. Hu’s research, there were different theories as to why mammals have eyelashes. Some theories proposed that they were intended to catch dust or to prompt blinking. Others suggested aesthetic and social purposes, stating that long eyelashes are used to attract potential mates.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Did you find learning about the eyelashes’ true function interesting? Why or why not?
·         Why do you think people are attracted to long eyelashes? Kindly discuss.

Discussion B

·         How can theories be tested accurately? Kindly explain.
·         Why do you think scientists still need to continue researching about the human body?

May 4, 2015