FW: [glaucus] Research about the Sea Mouse

Geoff Read g.read at niwa.cri.nz
Thu Jan 4 18:18:50 EST 2001

The citation in Nature is given below, but first:

> http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/sci/tech/newsid_1099000/1099278.stm
> A humble marine worm with a talent for optical engineering may hold the
> clue to new communication technologies. 
> Little is known about the sea mouse but its spines are exciting
> physicists


The BBC journalist: "The spines are made of protein and have a defensive 
role. Their colour acts as a warning to predators."

It is not the large spines that are iridescent but the fine capillary chaetae.  
And in the article the authors actually say "The biological function of the 
iridescence is unknown, but it may be related to species recognition or to 
courtship."!!  Also can I be a sceptic and say that  iridescence, not that 
unusual to be seen in polychaete chaetae, would be hard to prove to be 
other than foremost an irrelevant side-effect of the mode of 'engineering' of 
the chaetal structure. Occam's razor applies.

> Researchers in the UK and Australia said the technical wizardry of the
> lowly sea mouse could be copied ...

Umm. But possibly not right now, eh? :-)

Parker, A. R., R. C. McPhedran, D. R. McKenzie, L. C. Botten, & N.-A. P. 
Nicorovici. 2001. Photonic engineering: Aphrodite's iridescence [brief 
communication]. — Nature 409, 36 - 37(6816):36-37.

  Geoff Read <g.read at niwa.cri.nz>

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