What can you learn about your world in just a moment? Have you ever wondered why the sky is blue? Or whether dogs can read our facial expressions? Don Glass and experts in their fields answer these questions and many more. Written for readers of all ages with no background in science required, How the World Looks to a Bee is the perfect armchair companion for curious people who want to know more about the science of everyday life but have only a moment to spare. With intriguing everyday phenomena as a starting point, this entertaining collection uses short tutorials and quick and simple experiments to invite readers to test the science for themselves. These fascinating and topical science stories are sure to delight the curious child in all of us.
|Publisher:||Indiana University Press|
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.80(d)|
|Age Range:||18 Years|
About the Author
Don Glass is Special Projects Director at public radio station WFIU-FM and the radio producer of A Moment of Science.
Read an Excerpt
How Does the World Look to a Bee?
To describe light in a general way, you need to specify at least three qualities: its brightness or intensity, its color, and its polarization.
Polarization is a quality our eyes don’t detect. We have no everyday words to describe polarization, so we have to resort to a more or less scientific description of it.
If we think of light as a wave traveling through spacesomething like a ripple crossing a pondwe can think of polarization as describing the direction in which the wave vibrates. The vibration in a light wave is always perpendicular to the direction the wave is traveling. But the vibration of light can be up and down, sideways, or any combination of the two.
If the vibrations are in random directions, the light is said to be unpolarized; if all the vibrations are in the same direction, it’s completely polarized. Intermediate amounts of polarization are most common.
To our eyes, polarization makes no difference. But it has been known for decades now that insects in general, and bees in particular, can detect the direction a light wave is vibrating in. Bees navigate by referring to the direction of the sun. But they don’t have to see the sun directly; all they need is a clear view of a small piece of the sky. The blue glow of the sky is polarized, and the direction and amount of polarization are different in every part of the sky depending on where the sun is. A bee can tell where the sun is by looking at the polarization of any small piece of the sky.
So bees have a dimension to their vision that we lack. In addition to color and brightness, bees see polarization. What does that sensation feel like? How does the world look to a bee? We can only wonder.
Konnen, G. P. Polarized Light in Nature. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1985.
Minnaert, Marcel. T he Nature of Light and Colour in the Open Air. New York: Dover, 1954.
Schmidt-Nielsen, Knut. Animal Physiology: Adaptation and Environment. 3rd ed. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1983.
Table of Contents
- Does Nutrisweet have calories?
- A Water Magnifier
- Conversation at a Crowded Party
- Can a Theory Evolve into a Law?
- A Cat "Flips out"
- Winter Sounds
- Hungry Lasagna
- A Wet Paintbrush
- The Glory
- Horns vs. Antlers
- Glacier "Sawdust": The Colorful Component of Mountain Lakes
- Would You Drink This?
- Tickling the Funny Bone
- The Shape of Snow
- Remembrance of Things Past for Babies
- Ravens Avian Einsteins
- Ant Antennae: Two Way Communication
- The Echo of a Train
- Old-fashioned Ice Cream Makers
- Forry, Wrong Number
- What Obesity and a Lack of Fatty Tissue Have in Common
- Look Through Your Comb at the Mirror
- Blow Out Candles with an Oatmeal Box
- Wrong Name!
- When Pop Bottles Don't Blow UpAnd When They Do
- Common Birthdays, Classic of Probability
- Take Bets on a Leaky Milk Carton
- Smells and Memories
- Big Shadows
- Half Heads, Half Tails
- Spiders Don't Get Caught in Their Own Webs
- Bilingual Brain
- The Shape of the Earth
- It's Now What You Hear – It's When You Hear It
- Weightless Water
- The Force of a Tornado
- The QWERTY Effect
- The Spinning Earth and the Weather
- The Floating Cork Trick
- On a Clear Day, How Far Can You See?
- Benjamin Franklin and the Swatches on the Snow
- Dog Facial Expressions and Humans
- Why is the Sky Blue?
- Why One Rotten Apple Can Spoil the Barrel
- Saccadic Suppression
- Dimples in Golfballs
- Why Do Cats' Eye Glow at Night?
- The Shape of Lightning Bolts
- Alcohol in Pie... and Fried Fish?
- How Time Passes in Dreams
- Why You Can Never Get to the End of the Rainbow
- Do the Best Dogs Come from the Pound?
- Cooking with Wine
- Listening Underwater
- Why Are Bells Made of Metal
- An Inverted Image
- The Elastic Ruler
- The Sweet Spot on a Baseball Bat
- Why Kids can Sleep through just about Anything
- Cold Water at the Bottom of the Lake
- Bad Grades and Biological Clocks
- The Twin Within
- The Secret Life of Hiccups
- How Does the World Look to a Bee?
- Why Mowing the Lawn Doesn't Kill the Grass
- The Consequences of Smallness
- How Dogs Eat
- The Secret of Clear Ice Cubes
- Broken Cups and Atoms
- One-way Glass
- Late Night Radio
- Why Honey Turns Hard
- Adding and Subtracting Colors
- Breaking a Coffee Cup
- Déjà vu
- A Rock in a Row Boat
- When It Smells Like Rain
- Why Popcorn Pops
- Make an Image Without a Lens
- A Rising Fastball
- Chimes For Your Ears Only
- How Can You Tell If a Spider is Dead?
- Why Fan Blades Stay Dirty
- The Legacy of the Dodo
- Get Your Bearings with Two Thumbtacks
- More Than One Way to Make a Frog
- A Dot, A Line, A Crease, A Beautiful Curve
- The Shape of Sound
- Sorting Out Musical Pitches
- Newton, Tennis, and the Nature of Light
- Roll Over, George Washington
- Don't Believe Your Fingers
- Opera Singers Cut through the Orchestra
- Curved Space in a Christmas Ornament
- Coriolis Effect
- Catch A Falling Dollar
- Illusion in a Coffee Cup
- Why Do We Put Cut Flowers in Water?
- Knuckle Cracking
- Life Without Zero
- For This You Need a Doctor?
- Two-Point Threshold
- A Mirror Riddle
- Sort Nuts By Shaking Can
- Why A Rubber Band Snaps Back
- Some Like It Hot
- Breaking the Tension
- Why 5,280 Feet?
- Balance A Yardstick Without Looking
- Heat Lightning