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Science Mag: Scallop’s eye “Fine-tuned for image formation”

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scallop eyes

We typically think of eyes as having one or more lenses for focusing incoming light onto a surface such as our retina. However, light can also be focused using arrays of mirrors, as is commonly done in telescopes. A biological example of this is the scallop, which can have up to 200 reflecting eyes that focus light onto two retinas. Palmer et al. find that spatial vision in the scallop is achieved through precise control of the size, shape, and packing density of the tiles of guanine that together make up an image-forming mirror at the back of each of the eyes. More.

The authors dare to use the term “fine-tuned,” with all its career-limiting damage?

The pecten scallop uses mirrors instead of lenses in its eyes.

Abstract: Scallops possess a visual system comprising up to 200 eyes, each containing a concave mirror rather than a lens to focus light. The hierarchical organization of the multilayered mirror is controlled for image formation, from the component guanine crystals at the nanoscale to the complex three-dimensional morphology at the millimeter level. The layered structure of the mirror is tuned to reflect the wavelengths of light penetrating the scallop’s habitat and is tiled with a mosaic of square guanine crystals, which reduces optical aberrations. The mirror forms images on a double-layered retina used for separately imaging the peripheral and central fields of view. The tiled, off-axis mirror of the scallop eye bears a striking resemblance to the segmented mirrors of reflecting telescopes. (paywall) – The image-forming mirror in the eye of the scallop Benjamin A. Palmer, Gavin J. Taylor, Vlad Brumfeld, Dvir Gur, Michal Shemesh, Nadav Elad, Aya Osherov, Dan Oron, Steve Weiner, Lia Addadi Science 01 Dec 2017: Vol. 358, Issue 6367, pp. 1172-1175 | DOI: 10.1126/science.aam9506
http://science.sciencemag.org/content/358/6367/1172

A friend offers some extracts:

In some rare visual systems in nature, mirrors are used instead of lenses to produce images (1). A remarkable example of such an eye is found in the Pecten scallop, which possesses up to 200 minute eyes lining the mantle tissue.

Perhaps the most complex optical function of guanine crystals in nature is in image formation. This function demands an extremely high degree of ultrastructural organization because light must not only be reflected but also focused. The hierarchal organization of the scallop mirror is finely tuned for image formation, from the component guanine crystals at the nanoscale to the overall shape of the mirror at the millimeter level (20). The scallop controls the crystal morphology and spacing to produce a tiled multilayer mirror with minimal optical diffraction aberrations, which reflects wavelengths of light that penetrate its habitat and are absorbed by its retinas. The mirror forms functional images on both retinas, which appear to be specialized for different functions.

The crystal morphology, multilayer structure, and 3D shape of the scallop’s eye mirror are finely controlled to produce functional images on its two retinas. Understanding the strategies that organisms use to control crystal morphology and arrangement for complex optical functions paves the way for the construction of novel bio-inspired optical devices (39, 40). In particular, the resemblance of the scallop’s tiled, off-axis mirror to the segmented mirrors of reflecting telescopes provides inspiration for the development of compact, wide-field imaging devices derived from this unusual form of biological optics.

And it all somehow just happened, with no underlying design…

Thought: The way things are going, the war on reason and common sense required to protect Darwinian naturalism will run into problems with the English language, and any other language that is needed to convey meaning. Could researchers buy the right to use conventional meaningful terms now and then without Darwin’s Dobermans let loose on them? Maybe they could apologize in advance and pay a fee… with a special fine levied if the paper is cited anywhere?

See also: Researchers: Earth’s first trees were also “most complex”

Darwinism vs science: Even flu bugs are complex

and

What becomes of science when the evidence does not matter?

5 Replies to “Science Mag: Scallop’s eye “Fine-tuned for image formation”

  1. 1
    Axel says:

    What a blessing that happenstance can be retro-happenstanced.

    For the naturalist, applied engineering must be the harnessing of happenstance.

    I wonder, if I were set loose in a laboratory, in due course, I could turn out something God would have been proud of ? If not on my own, perhaps, with Duane Doberman as my trusty research-colleague ? A kind of supercharged happenstance.

  2. 2
    polistra says:

    Not all that unusual. Vertebrate retinas are also concave mirrors behind a lens. Our rods and cones face the surface of the mirror, not the lens. The mirror is easily visible in cats when their eyes seem to “shine” at night.

  3. 3
    Dionisio says:

    “The authors dare to use the term “fine-tuned,” with all its career-limiting damage?”

    No risk of career-limiting damage whatsoever.

    Because as we all should know by now, the alleged fine-tuning -which is just an illusion- is a (surprisingly unexpected) product of the almighty modern synthesis RV+NS+…+ a few co-options here and there and the powerful evo-devo formulation that they have all figured out [Dev(d)=Dev(a)+Delta(d,a)].

    All that stuff working in natural concert through a very long time. Bingo!

    That’s all.

    We just don’t understand it. It’s our fault.

    Ok? Our fault.

    🙂

  4. 4
    Tom Robbins says:

    the universe fined tuned for life, and life fined tuned – just chance and “selection” of course! LOL… Think about all the systems in a creature, every step would have to survive multiple random mutations – well we know neo-darwinism is dead, but some people still elevate random mutation, which is almost always deleterious, to some kind of intelligent agent (of course they would never admit it) – fortunately Biology is changing, recognizing many non-random “mechanisms” like jumping genes, orphan genes, HGT, even though they have no idea how these non-random mechanisms, which sure look more like a reused idea/code – for instance jumping genes and HGT, when we find it, always seems to convey some positive information – if these mechanisms were random, nothing would survive any change within limits. New theories like “natural genetic engineering” which makes me giggle, as it relies on some kind of bootstrap to get to the level where this “engineering” can take place – so I guess life fought entropy and all odds, then developed a storage system that contains non-material information, and systems that can decode this information, but it had to have the proteins there at the same time to keep it alive to become “smart” enough to decide to replicate and divide, then it started benefiting from jumping genes and HGT, symbiotic relationships, also all by chance and necessity – so dumb – everything I learned about evolutionary biology was wrong – but then again it took until 1965, the year of my birth, to replace the steady state universe with the big bang. http://www.thethirdwayofevolution.com

  5. 5
    PaV says:

    Polistra:

    Use your ability to reason; dogmatism only obscures.

    Read this:

    Perhaps the most complex optical function of guanine crystals in nature is in image formation. This function demands an extremely high degree of ultrastructural organization because light must not only be reflected but also focused. The hierarchal organization of the scallop mirror is finely tuned for image formation, from the component guanine crystals at the nanoscale to the overall shape of the mirror at the millimeter level (20). The scallop controls the crystal morphology and spacing to produce a tiled multilayer mirror with minimal optical diffraction aberrations, which reflects wavelengths of light that penetrate its habitat and are absorbed by its retinas. The mirror forms functional images on both retinas, which appear to be specialized for different functions.

    You wrote this:

    Not all that unusual. Vertebrate retinas are also concave mirrors behind a lens. Our rods and cones face the surface of the mirror, not the lens. The mirror is easily visible in cats when their eyes seem to “shine” at night.

    You’re missing the point. This is a case where it is as if 200 cat eyes are reflecting light in a coordinated way to some brain that is able to reconstruct all of these reflections. It is amazingly complex. It is an utter rejection of random processes.

    Nobel scientist, and physics legend, Richard Feynmen, in his book, QED, explains how light can be reflected from a surface using a series of mirror fragments placed at various angles and locations, yet ‘summing up’ all the information being reflected.

    IOW, in a lighted room, Richard Feynman stand at one end, and through the use of these mirror fragments, strategically placed, I can see Richard Feynman without looking directly at him, but, instead, at the ‘angle of reflection’ based on the plane within which the mirrors lie. Do you think those mirrors in the lighted room could arrange themselves randomly? And if you believe that, then explain how this information ends up getting processed.

    Here’s ENV’s take on it.

    In particular:

    In particular, the resemblance of the scallop’s tiled, off-axis mirror to the segmented mirrors of reflecting telescopes provides inspiration for the development of compact, wide-field imaging devices derived from this unusual form of biological optics.

    IOW, analyzing what scallops do, humans can now “design” better, more powerful reflecting mirrors.

    “Darwinism is true, therefore design is wrong.” This is dogmatism, not science.

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