Tuesday 28th July
Fourier blues: how mathematics explains some of the beautiful blue colours in birds and other animals
Rodolfo Torres, University of Kansas
There are blue skies and blue birds over the rainbow as the song says, but not all blues are the same. The blue and green colours we see in birds, and even some of the ultraviolet that we cannot see, are produced by the way in which light interacts with ordered nano-structures in the tissues of the birds. This order in the structures can be measured using Fourier analysis, a powerful mathematical tool. Like a prism that decomposes a beam of light into a rainbow of colours, Fourier analysis transforms the geometrical arrangements observed in electron microscope images of the tissues into a mathematical rainbow of basic components that quantify order or periodicities. We will illustrate how Fourier analysis processes the images and helps decipher the colours of birds and other animals. We will use this application of Fourier analysis to present also some of its mathematical concepts and interest. The talk will be accessible to all those who are curious about some of the physics behind the bright blue and green colours found in nature and how mathematics can be used to describe such coloration.
(doors open 5.30pm, talk will be followed by a reception to which all attendees are invited)
This public lecture is part of the ICMS workshop on Harmonic Analysis and Partial Differential Equations which takes place during the week 27-31 July 2015.