IQC Public Lecture - Over the Rainbow: The Other World Seen by Animals

Tuesday, November 15, 2016 7:00 pm - 7:00 pm EST (GMT -05:00)

Charles Clark, Fellow, Joint Quantum Institute

Much of what we understand about the world comes from our eyes, which sense the colors from red to violet that are expressed in the rainbow.

Yet we know that this patch of colors is just a small island in the vast electromagnetic spectrum, which extends from radio waves to gamma rays. Two invisible regions of great importance to us are those just over and just under the rainbow - the infrared and ultraviolet, respectively. These were discovered about 200 years ago in inspired experiments that anyone can understand, originally conducted by Frederick William Herschel and Johann Wilhelm Ritter. Only recently has it come to be understood that a variety of animals live in a visual world totally unfamiliar to us, particularly in the ultraviolet.

The ultraviolet is a realm fundamentally ruled by quantum physics, and the scene of a discovery that laid the foundation of the quantum theory of matter. The birds and the bees seem unaware of this, but they make fruitful use of it every day.

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