How the World Looks to a Bee: And Other Moments of Science

How the World Looks to a Bee: And Other Moments of Science

by Don Glass (Editor)


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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780253046260
Publisher: Indiana University Press
Publication date: 03/17/2020
Pages: 248
Sales rank: 1,145,181
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 space—something like a ripple crossing a pond—we 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

  1. Does Nutrisweet have calories?
  2. A Water Magnifier
  3. Conversation at a Crowded Party
  4. Can a Theory Evolve into a Law?
  5. A Cat "Flips out"
  6. Winter Sounds
  7. Rust
  8. Hungry Lasagna
  9. A Wet Paintbrush
  10. The Glory
  11. Horns vs. Antlers
  12. Glacier "Sawdust": The Colorful Component of Mountain Lakes
  13. Would You Drink This?
  14. Tickling the Funny Bone
  15. The Shape of Snow
  16. Remembrance of Things Past for Babies
  17. Ravens Avian Einsteins
  18. Ant Antennae: Two Way Communication
  19. The Echo of a Train
  20. Old-fashioned Ice Cream Makers
  21. Forry, Wrong Number
  22. What Obesity and a Lack of Fatty Tissue Have in Common
  23. Look Through Your Comb at the Mirror
  24. Blow Out Candles with an Oatmeal Box
  25. Wrong Name!
  26. When Pop Bottles Don't Blow UpAnd When They Do
  27. Common Birthdays, Classic of Probability
  28. Take Bets on a Leaky Milk Carton
  29. Smells and Memories
  30. Big Shadows
  31. Half Heads, Half Tails
  32. Spiders Don't Get Caught in Their Own Webs
  33. Bilingual Brain
  34. The Shape of the Earth
  35. It's Now What You Hear – It's When You Hear It
  36. Weightless Water
  37. The Force of a Tornado
  38. The QWERTY Effect
  39. The Spinning Earth and the Weather
  40. The Floating Cork Trick
  41. On a Clear Day, How Far Can You See?
  42. Benjamin Franklin and the Swatches on the Snow
  43. Dog Facial Expressions and Humans
  44. Why is the Sky Blue?
  45. Why One Rotten Apple Can Spoil the Barrel
  46. Diamonds
  47. Saccadic Suppression
  48. Spoonerisms
  49. Dimples in Golfballs
  50. Why Do Cats' Eye Glow at Night?
  51. The Shape of Lightning Bolts
  52. Alcohol in Pie... and Fried Fish?
  53. How Time Passes in Dreams
  54. Why You Can Never Get to the End of the Rainbow
  55. Do the Best Dogs Come from the Pound?
  56. Cooking with Wine
  57. Listening Underwater
  58. Why Are Bells Made of Metal
  59. An Inverted Image
  60. The Elastic Ruler
  61. The Sweet Spot on a Baseball Bat
  62. Why Kids can Sleep through just about Anything
  63. Cold Water at the Bottom of the Lake
  64. Bad Grades and Biological Clocks
  65. The Twin Within
  66. Limeys
  67. The Secret Life of Hiccups
  68. How Does the World Look to a Bee?
  69. Cottonmouth
  70. Why Mowing the Lawn Doesn't Kill the Grass
  71. The Consequences of Smallness
  72. Antimatter
  73. How Dogs Eat
  74. The Secret of Clear Ice Cubes
  75. Broken Cups and Atoms
  76. One-way Glass
  77. Late Night Radio
  78. Why Honey Turns Hard
  79. Adding and Subtracting Colors
  80. Breaking a Coffee Cup
  81. Déjà vu
  82. A Rock in a Row Boat
  83. When It Smells Like Rain
  84. Mirages
  85. Why Popcorn Pops
  86. Make an Image Without a Lens
  87. A Rising Fastball
  88. Chimes For Your Ears Only
  89. How Can You Tell If a Spider is Dead?
  90. Why Fan Blades Stay Dirty
  91. The Legacy of the Dodo
  92. Get Your Bearings with Two Thumbtacks
  93. More Than One Way to Make a Frog
  94. A Dot, A Line, A Crease, A Beautiful Curve
  95. The Shape of Sound
  96. Blinking
  97. Sorting Out Musical Pitches
  98. Newton, Tennis, and the Nature of Light
  99. Roll Over, George Washington
  100. Don't Believe Your Fingers
  101. Opera Singers Cut through the Orchestra
  102. Curved Space in a Christmas Ornament
  103. Coriolis Effect
  104. Catch A Falling Dollar
  105. Illusion in a Coffee Cup
  106. Why Do We Put Cut Flowers in Water?
  107. Knuckle Cracking
  108. Life Without Zero
  109. For This You Need a Doctor?
  110. Two-Point Threshold
  111. A Mirror Riddle
  112. Sort Nuts By Shaking Can
  113. Why A Rubber Band Snaps Back
  114. Some Like It Hot
  115. Breaking the Tension
  116. Why 5,280 Feet?
  117. Balance A Yardstick Without Looking
  118. Heat Lightning

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