As science explores the deepest parts of the
oceans, new discoveries
seem to come at a bewildering rate. The conditions deep in the ocean
are very harsh — cold temperatures, limited amounts of light or any
other kind of energy, and massive pressures. To design anything that
can exist in this harsh, alien world is a challenge, and we are just
now beginning to design equipment able to travel deep in the ocean and
see what is there.
Most animals see by having lenses that bring light to a focus on the
retina of the eye where specialized cells carry the message to the
brain. There are a number of problems with lenses. They can only look
straight ahead of the animal, they are thick and bulky, and there is
always a loss of energy and intensity as the light passes through the
lens. Dr. Julian Partridge at the University of Bristol in England has
studied an unusual fish called the brownsnout spookfish during a deep
sea observing tour. The fish has two segments to its eyes. The lenses
of the fish are set so as to see above the fish, and there are mirrors
in the eye enabling the fish to see below it and to the sides.
Concave mirrors are used in most large telescopes. They have great
light gathering ability, can handle unusual angles of light, and do not
lose as much light energy as lenses. In the spookfish, organic crystals
that have high reflectivity line the eye and are arranged so that their
focal point is on the retina. This is a highly sophisticated design,
and gives the fish visual acuity not seen in other forms of life. The
fish is being studied to see how we can use the advantages of this
system in our own designs.
This is just one more of a long series of cases where scientists and
engineers look at the design God has built into living things so that
we can imitate it to produce something that can benefit mankind.
Reference: Popular Science,
April 2009, pages 10 –11.
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