Intelligent Design we can all agree upon!

Intelligent Design we can all agree upon! The grainy butterfly images are actually simulations of compound-eye views of how one butterfly would see another! The typical courtship distance of 18 inches, is seen at the top. If the butterfly moves slightly, large portions of the image flash back and forth between all orange and all black.

• Full size (spectacular) butterfly vision here:

• Leonardo da Vinci wanted us to Study the science of art and the art of science .

• See the award winning gallery here:

Thanks for the find, Tom Lee !

Originally shared by Tom Lee

Science can be beautiful. That’s the message behind Princeton University’s “Art of Science” competition.

This year’s competition, with the theme of “Intelligent Design,” drew 168 submissions, depicting subjects ranging from neurons to nanostructures to magnetic fields. A panel chose 56 works for the final exhibition, on display at the university through November 2012. Here is a look.

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22 Responses to Intelligent Design we can all agree upon!

  1. Tom Lee says:

    My pleasure Rajini Rao !

  2. RJ Matlock says:

    Intelligent creative design-combining science, nature, thought, with the Arts! and the insight to know the difference.

  3. Rajini Rao says:

    Exactly, RJ Matlock ! No controversy there! 🙂

  4. RJ Matlock says:

    AS old as the Greeks…..With more freedom and time,money,and energy!!! Controversy?

  5. Rajini Rao says:

    Oh, I meant the whole Creationism/Intelligent Design brouhaha in the US.

  6. RJ Matlock says:

    dipoly thought…black/white…what about gray…or all the colors…wahy always either neither!!!!!!!!!!!!!~!!!!!!!!!!!~!!!!~!!

  7. In fact, we have NO idea whether what I see as blue is what you see as orange.

  8. Kevin Bourrillion , isn’t that solved by asking a set of people “what colour is this?” If you ask enough people about the same item, surely you’ll find a consensus about whether something is “blue” or “orange”. It can reasonably be extrapolated that most people with similar senses and using the same language will use the same or similar words to describe the same things. Same as if you asked a hundred people what a table or a horse or the sky was, you’d (apart from joking) not be told that they were a car, a fish and the ground.

  9. No, think about it: if the color I actually see when I look at the ocean is what you would call orange, I still swear up and down that it’s “blue” anyway, because that’s the word I was taught for that color when I was little! Get it? There’s no way to know what it’s really like to see things as I see them. Let alone a butterfly.

  10. I agree that people can perceive things differently (what is warm weather to you might be cold to me, etc), and I am also doubtful that we can accurately simulate such a different method of sensing as a butterfly’s compound eyes.

    But the meanings of words are not set in stone as you first learn them. (Even ignoring the way languages change over time.) When I was little, I thought “subtle” meant “large, messy, full of things” because whenever my dad was making a sandwich, he would always say “I like subtle sandwiches!” and that was how he made them.

    On the other hand – if we are using the same words to describe the same thing, is it a problem that we may perceive them differently? My mother and I disagree on exactly where the border lies between blue and green and turquoise, but we can still recognise a blue sky and a green field, even if we confuse each other when describing shirts.

  11. Rajini Rao – have you read “Endless Forms Most Beautiful” by Sean B. Carroll? I have a feeling you might like it…

  12. Rajini Rao says:

    Thanks, Gideon Rosenblatt , it has now been “autodelivered wirelessly” to my Kindle..I look forward to reading it! Just yesterday I mentioned monarch butterflies in my lecture on sodium pumps. These pumps are on all metazoan cell membranes and drive the beating of the heart, nerve action potentials and a whole lot more. They can be inhibited by chemicals found in foxgloves and milkweed which are toxic to most animals, but not to butterflies because their version of the sodium pump carries a mutation that makes it resistant to these toxins (called cardiac glycosides). The butterflies can get away with flaunting their gaudy wings since the birds avoid eating them. Although cardiac glycosides are poisonous in large doses, small amounts are used in treating heart failure even today.

  13. Great! It was a slog for me because I am only a biologist in spirit, but I am very interested in applying biological principles to organizational design and the things he’s talking about in that book have important implications for organizational design too.

    So interesting about those toxins and how, in a way, they created beauty. Cool.

  14. Rajini Rao says:

    Please, Google+’ers, think twice before making uninformed comments on a science-based post! I understand that someone like Henry K.O. Norman (diver, grandfather, programmer) may have no clue about how a butterfly sees, but my mind boggles at the assumption that scientists do not! Butterfly vision and the study of insect compound eyes are the subject of intense scientific inquiry for decades, if not a century or more. Everything from genetics, cellular and molecular organization, biophysics, spectral tuning, quantum mechanics down to the bond length of hydroxyretinal (visual pigment) has been described.

    If you are interested in this subject, there are many resources. PubMed is one. A quick search of the term butterfly vision reveals an impressive listing of publications. The first on the list explains wing mimicry on butterfly wings in terms of insect and predator vision. Here is the abstract, just to give you guys a tiny hint of the level of research (note, this is only one of hundreds of papers) :

    Abstract Mimetic wing coloration evolves in butterflies in the context of predator confusion. Unless butterfly eyes have adaptations for discriminating mimetic color variation, mimicry also carries a risk of confusion for the butterflies themselves. Heliconius butterfly eyes, which express recently duplicated ultraviolet (UV) opsins, have such an adaptation. To examine bird and butterfly color vision as sources of selection on butterfly coloration, we studied yellow wing pigmentation in the tribe Heliconiini. We confirmed, using reflectance and mass spectrometry, that only Heliconius use 3-hydroxy-DL-kynurenine (3-OHK), which looks yellow to humans but reflects both UV- and long-wavelength light, whereas butterflies in related genera have chemically unknown yellow pigments mostly lacking UV reflectance. Modeling of these color signals reveals that the two UV photoreceptors of Heliconius are better suited to separating 3-OHK from non-3-OHK spectra compared with the photoreceptors of related genera or birds. The co-occurrence of potentially enhanced UV vision and a UV-reflecting yellow wing pigment could allow unpalatable Heliconius private intraspecific communication in the presence of mimics. Our results are the best available evidence for the correlated evolution of a color signal and color vision. They also suggest that predator visual systems are error prone in the context of mimicry.

    Ref: Bybee et al. Am Nat. 2012 Jan;179(1):38-51. Epub 2011 Dec 5.UV Photoreceptors and UV-Yellow Wing Pigments in Heliconius Butterflies Allow a Color Signal to Serve both Mimicry and Intraspecific Communication.

    P.S. I don’t mean to put anyone down, and welcome all comments. But I will defend the scientific endeavor 🙂

  15. RJ Matlock says:

    And you do well… with…Style,Class & Art info…Thx for text & post 😀

  16. Rajini Rao says:

    LOL, arianatom Ozzy , that is a unique compliment and I accept your super nice words, thanks! (+100 for the experiment in your comment!)

  17. Vladimir Nabokov would have loved the images illustrating a butterfly’s compound-eyesight. The entire gallery organized by Princeton is amazing..

  18. Rajini Rao says:

    Thank you, Marc Ponomareff . Nabokov said, “My pleasures are the most intense known to man: writing and butterfly hunting.” His drawings of butterflies were all inventions:

  19. This brings to mind an amusing anecdote about the “non-scientific” mindset… When Nabokov was a child his father hired a natural-sciences tutor to broaden his son’s horizons; this tutor was by all accounts a most charming fellow. Yet on one of their field-trips Nabokov asked him what type of bird could be uttering those interesting calls he was hearing; upon reflection the tutor replied “Oh… some little bird or other” – then proceeded on his way, contentedly smoking his cheroot and knocking the heads off dandelions with his walking-stick.

  20. Rajini Rao says:

    Marc Ponomareff , perhaps that was a good thing and Nabokov went on to more literary achievements. If he had been anything like the tutor Gerald Durrell had, on the magical island of Corfu, Nabokov could well have become a zoo keeper and author of hilarious books like My family and other animals. Have you read any of Durrell’s books? They are hysterically funny.

  21. Rajini Rao, I’m a fan of his brother Lawrence’s ‘Alexandria Quartet’ but no, never read anything by Gerald Durrell… As I love animals though, and especially humorous stories about animals, I’m definitely going to check out his work. “My Family and Other Animals” sounds like an excellent place to start.

  22. Rajini Rao says:

    You will definitely enjoy the humor and almost lyrical quality of prose in describing the Greek islands. Gerald Durrell also makes relentless fun of his siblings, including his famous brother Lawrence. I would recommend starting with My family and if you like it, Birds Bees and Relatives, next 🙂

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