Over the Rainbow
Other Worlds Seen by Animals
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 are those just over and just under the rainbow humans can see naturally - in the infrared and ultraviolet parts of the spectrum, respectively. These regions of light - invisible to us - were discovered about 200 years ago in inspired experiments by Frederick William Herschel and Johann Wilhelm Ritter. Since then there has been a great deal of work involving IR and UV light, and many practical applications of them have been developed.
More recently, we have also come to understand that a variety of animals can see these parts of the spectrum, particularly the ultraviolet, even though we cannot, and that animals that can see IR and/or UV light live in a visual world that is totally unfamiliar to us. This lecture will discuss animal vision beyond the rainbow that humans see from the perspective of measurement science. And it will discuss influences of ultraviolet radiation in technology, astronomy and on climate.
Charles W. Clark is a theoretical atomic, molecular and optical physicist at the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) where he is a Fellow and serves as the NIST Co-Director of the Joint Quantum Institute of NIST and the University of Maryland. He is also the Physical Sciences Editor of the NIST Digital Library of Mathematical Functions and co-editor of the NIST Handbook of Mathematical Functions. He previously served as Chief of the Electron and Optical Physics Division at NIST and as Program Manager for Atomic and Molecular Physics at the Office of Navel Research.
His main research activities have been in the area of ultracold gases; quantum information and communications; and atomic and molecular phenomena on surfaces, in condensed matter, and in nuclear reactions.
Charles is a Fellow of the National Institute of Sciences and Technology, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Institute of Physics, the Optical Society of America, and the American Physical Society. He has received numerous awards for his research and service, including NIST's Condon Award (twice), the Mahan Prize of the Optical Society of America, US Department of Commerce Silver and Gold Medals, and the NIST Bronze Medal. He has served on numerous editorial, review and advisory boards and has been an author on several hundred research publications.
He earned a BA in Mathematics and Physics at Western Washington State College and an MS and PhD in Physics at the University of Chicago.