Navigation

I have to wander off for a couple days to Denver and NY for some nanobusiness.

 

The moon reminds me of navigation... and one of my favorite stories, probably apocryphal, about the scientists who were interested in the question of why the moth spirals into the candle flame.

 

Part 1 THE MIND:

The neurologists mapped the entire visual pathway. Navigating by the moon, the flapping wings would occlude the light hitting the eye with each flap. Based on differential flashes driven by the cadence of the wings and angle relative to the light source, the moth would involuntarily turn toward the light to balance the input to each eye. Moths evolved without flames or light bulbs to confuse them (The moon is far away and served as a fixed beacon at night; the candle flame was bright but nearby - creating a death spiral). For some reason, they studied female moths.

 

Part 2 UNIVERSAL TRUTHS:

They thought they had the answer in studying the female moths. Every moth had the same pathway. Then someone looked at a male moth, and the eye-wing linkage was missing. That visual pathway was missing altogether. All moths exhibit the same behavior, so the neurologists looked for a similar pattern to explain the phenomenon.

 

And then it hit them. The male moths had a simpler involuntary algorithm: follow the female moth.

26,072 views
100 faves
57 comments
Taken on May 5, 2006
  • ƒ/0.0
  • 0.0 mm
  • 1/320
  • 1600
  • Flash (off, did not fire)
  • Show EXIF
This photo is in 4 albums
This photo is in 1 gallery

Additional info

  • Viewing this photo Public
  • Safety level of this photo Safe
  • S Search
    Photo navigation
    < > Thumbnail navigation
    Z Zoom
    B Back to context