Nautilus

Looking at Art Through Different Eyes—Like a Bee

There is more to the world than meets the human eye, a fact that hit home for the 18th-century astronomer Sir Frederick William Herschel when he discovered infrared light—a wavelength of light that lies just outside the visible portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. We can feel its heat, but we can’t see the light—not without special equipment designed to be sensitive in this regime.

It’s somehow fitting that this invisible form of radiation is now used by infrared telescopes to “see” through interstellar dust in our universe to image distant, hidden galaxies, among other celestial objects—not to mention the increasingly common use of infrared (IR) photography here on Earth. A simple image of a park on a sunny day is transformed in the infrared into an eerily surreal landscape, simultaneously familiar and alien

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from Nautilus

Nautilus8 min read
Why Is the Human Brain So Efficient?: How massive parallelism lifts the brain’s performance above that of AI.
The brain is complex; in humans it consists of about 100 billion neurons, making on the order of 100 trillion connections. It is often compared with another complex system that has enormous problem-solving power: the digital computer. Both the brain
Nautilus16 min read
The Road Less Traveled to Fusion Energy: This privateer is developing a way to power the world with water and borax.
The modern quest for Promethean fire is underway in an anonymous office park in Foothill Ranch, California, an hour southeast of Los Angeles. In the park, along a meandering drive, you will find a huge, modern warehouse building with “TAE Technologie
Nautilus6 min read
Mice on Acid: To get a legal hallucinogen to market, rodents need to take the first trip.
In the bowels of an animal research facility at Oxford University, mice are stirring in cages. Half of them have been given an injection of saline solution and behave like the docile house pet of your local fifth-grader. The other half have been give