Look Into My Eyes: Mantis Shrimp May Hold Key to New Form of Sight
Jordan Yerman | March 22, 2008 at 06:42 amby
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Linearpolarization refers to light with photons travelingalong parallel, up-and-down wavelengths. By contrast,circular polarized light -- CPL for short -- hasphotons traveling in parallel, rotating wavelengths.It occurs rarely in nature but is widely used inhigh-tech communications. Researchers say thatunderstanding the eyes of mantis shrimps could helpengineers design better CPL systems.Many satellite systems rely on circular polarizedlight, as do devices that amplify radio signals,because CPL's tightly rotating configuration reducesdata losses during transmission. (When an antennasports something that looks like a tightly woundspring, that's for CPL.) It could someday be used inmobile phones -- invisible to our eyes, but not to themachines that detect it.Human applications aside, the discovery of a new typeof sight is a landmark unto itself, and the mantisshrimp is an odd but deserving history maker.
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