Over the Rainbow: The Other World Seen by Animals

OSA Special Seminar: Over the Rainbow: The Other World Seen by Animals
Tuesday, February 17, 2015 - 4:15pm to 5:15pm
Spilker 232
Charles W. Clark (University of Maryland)
Abstract / Description: 

Much of what we understand about the world comes from our eyes, which sense the colors from red to violet that are expressed in the rainbow. Yet we know that this patch of colors is just a small island in the vast electromagnetic spectrum, which extends from radio waves to gamma rays. Two unseen regions of great importance to us are those just over and just under the rainbow - the infrared and ultraviolet, respectively. These were discovered about 200 years ago in inspired experiments that anyone can understand, originally conducted by Frederick William Herschel and Johann Wilhelm Ritter. Only recently has it come to be understood that a variety of animals live in a visual world totally unfamiliar to us, particularly in the ultraviolet.

I will discuss this from the perspective of measurement science, and demonstrate other influences of the ultraviolet in technology, astronomy and climate change.

This seminar is sponsored by Stanford OSA.


Dr. Charles W. Clark is a theoretical atomic, molecular and optical physicist. A Fellow of the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Clark is the Physical Sciences Editor of the NIST Digital Library of Mathematical Functions (http://dlmf.nist.gov) and co-editor of the NIST Handbook of Mathematical Functions (Cambridge University Press, 2010). He is the NIST Co-Director of the Joint Quantum Institute (JQI - http://jqi.umd.edu ), a joint institute of NIST and the University of Maryland. In collaboration with Victor Galitski, Clark designed and taught the Coursera course, "Exploring Quantum Physics" https://www.coursera.org/course/eqp For more about Dr. Clark, see http://j.mp/JQ1cwc