Nature’s Array of Sensing Technologies

Museum tour.. Comparisons with modern technologies

Sujatha R
4 min readFeb 3, 2018

Recently I visited the California Academy of Sciences.. After working on mobile communications and imaging domains for years, could not contain admiring the cues from Nature.

A picture collage of Animals and their sensing adaptations..

COLOUR ME PLEASE

The frog is seen Green as its pigments absorb all shades from white light except green.. This bounces off and hits our eyes causing a perception of green colour.

FEED ME.. HUNGRY..

Dazzling blue and yellow dots on the beaks of young chicks signals their parents where the food should go even in the darkest moments

SPECTACULAR BLUE JAYS

Have you wondered why the Blue Jay looks sparklingly blue? Their feathers have crystal-like nanostructures that can bend light and generate dazzling blue.. Light dances differently on different surfaces..

A RED-COLOURED FLOWER

Have you wondered why flowers are usually Red in colour? Red colour appeals to the birds.. They have sensitive eyes that allow them to see additional shades of Red which we cannot sense.

THE DISAPPEARING ACT

Have you wondered why fishes assume such bright colours like Red? Well, survival tactics.. The red colour is visible at the surface but almost disappears in deep waters..

SECRET SIGNALS TO THE BEES

Did you know that bees cannot see Red? To assist their navigation to the nectar, flowers have ultra violet markings towards the centre which we cannot see normally..

SPY LIKE A SNAKE

How do some snakes see in the dark? With special cells on their faces, they can detect the infra-red light emitted by the warm furry skin of mice. The snake’s brain stitches the blur visual information with the infrared image..

Some more interesting facts which I could capture in the collage.

Some fishes like Elephant Noses use electricity to detect the pulse of their prey.. Interesting..

Periscopic and Surround View vision
The Peacock Mantis Shrimp has stereo vision eyes on its stalks and can view its surroundings safely hiding in a burrow.

An Octopus can put a chameleon in shame with its rapid colour-changing abilities.. Within seconds it can transform from green algae looking to something very bright.. Probably it has 3 hearts for this pumping requirement.

“A mineral’s beauty lies in its chemistry, geometry of its crystalline structure and the play of light..”

The Creator is a great mathematician and has created the world with such accuracy. Looking so much outward, probably we have lost the ability to listen to our inner senses..The ancient Yogis were highly inspired by their surroundings and devised Asanas, Breathing and Meditation techniques to conquer the senses of the body and mind complex. During my Yoga training, I have heard a student discussing with the teacher on hearing mysterious sounds after deep meditation.. Probably expansion of sensitivity in the audio spectrum..

Of late, we human tribe have exploited the sensing and communication mechanisms and engineered it for mankind. Just like the frogs, we divide the codes between different users of cellular phone communication and reuse them in another territory where there is no interference. From Satellite communication to broadcast TV, ubiquitous WiFi to Alexa we use radio frequencies everywhere. In home Automation, sensor technologies are used to sense temperature, and motion and then allow the intelligence to take decisions like switching on the heater..

We too use Red colour for the traffic signals.. Red seems to be the favourite in flowers and marine life. Apparently since Red has the highest wavelength in the colour spectrum, it can be seen even from a distance compared to other colours.

Smartphones have truly triggered the era of Instagram and Photography. In the Camera and Imaging domains, the sensitivity model of the human eye is used (just like the bird is extra sensitive to Red) and compresses the images and videos radically without affecting human perception.. Like the rich plumage of the bird relying on its nano particles, the modern-day LCD displays have tiny crystal generators for enhancing the TV viewing experience.

The Teslas and modern car navigation systems depend on 3D surround vision techniques like the Chameleons, Prawns and the 6-eyed star fish…. Like the snake, the aviation industry relies on infrared heat-based imaging techniques to safely navigate in Night Vision. Like the bat, the submarine sonar communication system and the Ultrasound Imaging of the human body work on the reflection of sound waves..

Nature has been our inspiration in many many ways and we are yet to discover the many hidden marvels of Nature..

The Infinite world that we perceive is a limited edition of our senses and intellect. A few videos that demonstrate extraordinary sensing capabilities in other animals.

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2019/01/flowers-can-hear-bees-and-make-their-nectar-sweeter/?fbclid=IwAR0ofPfbYVRv9KCjyZuMC9lKVzJVG-KVoisksP4CR1SsTGSdE-7a36wxmw8

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Sujatha R

I write.. I weave.. I walk.. कवयामि.. वयामि.. यामि.. Musings on Music, Linguistics & Patterns