Shrimp eyes inspire new CD, DVD technology

August 15, 2011

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. vivid (adj.) [viv-id] – (to seem to look) realistic or life-like
Example: Movies in 3-D format are more enjoyable to watch because the images are more vivid.

2. detect (v.) [dih-tekt] – to sense or notice something
Example: The manager detected some problems in the company.
3. naked eye (idiom) [ney-kid ahy] – eyes that are not assisted by any instrument
Example: Very small particles are not visible to the naked eye.

4. distinguish (v.) [dih-sting-gwish] – to recognize the difference of one thing from another
Example: It is hard to distinguish her from her twin sister.

5. mimic (v.) [mim-ik] – to copy or resemble something
Example: Little kids like to mimic older kids.

Read the text below.

The eye of the peacock mantis shrimp leads a group of international scientists to create a better CD and DVD technology that is able to store larger data and produce more vivid images.

Peacock mantis shrimps have eyes that can identify about 100,000 colors, ten times more than what human eyes can see. More importantly, they are one of the few creatures that can detect circular polarized light (CPL), the light used to create 3-D movies.

CPL occurs when light, which travels through air in the form of waves, rotates and forms circles.

Since humans cannot detect CPL through their naked eyes, present technology makes use of devices called waveplates that change the direction of light waves. This enables humans to detect CPL. Waveplates allow eyes to distinguish more colors therefore creating better quality images. Waveplates also alter the direction of light waves so that specific data can be stored in high-tech communication systems such as CDs and DVDs.

However, current waveplates can only detect CPL in few colors whereas peacock mantis shrimps can detect all CPL colors. To get the similar effect, Engineering Science professor Aklesh Lakhtakia and colleagues from National Taipei University of Technology created a waveplate that mimics the lens of peacock mantis shrimps.

The said waveplate is made from different layers of very small wires called nanorod. This structure changes light waves without decreasing the amount of light that gets through. With this technology, people may soon be able to watch movies with much better quality.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A
·         Can you give examples of technological advancements that seem to be inspired by animals?
·         What other animal abilities do you think should be mimicked by technology for human benefit?

Discussion B
·         What are the advantages or disadvantages of 3-D movies?
·         What is a good movie viewing experience for you?

August 15, 2011