Robots these days often take their inspiration from nature. Now cameras mimicking bug eyes that can look in many directions simultaneously can be made en masse, researchers say. These novel devices, each possessing hundreds of microscopic lenses, could find use as surveillance cameras on flying droids or in minimally invasive surgical operations.
The compound eyes of insects and other invertebrates are each made of up to thousands of relatively simple light-sensing facets known as ommatidia. These cover curved, hemispherical surfaces so that each points in slightly different directions. As such, compound eyes can have much wider fields of view than human eyes or regular cameras, including panoramic ones reaching nearly 360 degrees all the way around.
Like a thief in the night, the malaria parasite did its quick work and vanished inside a blood cell. But someone else was watching.
A team of Australian researchers from the ithree institute at the University of Technology Sydney, the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute (WEHI) in Parkville, and the University of Melbourne have trained a powerful GE microscope at the villain, tracking its every move. The team leader, WEHI’s Dr. Jake Baum, said the microscope provided “a quantum leap in the amount of detail we can see, revealing key molecular and cellular events required for each stage of the invasion process.
Why do humans see colors? For years the leading hypothesis was that color vision evolved to help us spot nutritious fruits and vegetation in the forest. But in 2006, evolutionary neurobiologist Mark Changizi and colleagues proposed that color vision evolved to perceive oxygenation and hemoglobin variations in skin in order to detect social cues, emotions and the states of our friends or enemies. Just think about the reddening and whitening of the face called blushing and blanching. They elicit distinct physiological reactions that would be impossible without color vision.
A few years ago Changizi left Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute where he was professor to co-found 2AI Labs with Dr. Tim Barber. Their Boise, Idaho-based research institute, funded via technology spin-offs coming out of their work, aimed at solving foundational problems in cognitive science and artificial intelligence. The move allowed Changizi to continue to conduct academic work with more intellectual freedom and less of a reliance on grants.