Squid Skin is Like an LED Screen

Television images are sometimes displayed on giant LED (Light Emitting Diode) hoardings. Instead of a fluorescent screen with an electron beam scanning side to side over it, the LED screen is a large array of tiny glowing lights, independently controllable. The lights are individually brightened or dimmed so that, from a distance, the whole matrix shimmers with moving pictures. The skin of a squid behaves like an LED screen. Instead of lights, squid skin is packed with thousands of tiny bags filled with ink. Each of these ink bags has miniature private muscles to squeeze it. With a puppet string leading to each one of these separate muscles, the squid's nervous system can control the shape, and hence the visibility, of each ink sac.

' In theory, if you wire-tapped the nerves leading to the separate ink pixels and stimulated them electrically via a computer, you could play out Charlie Chaplin movies on the squid's skin. The squid doesn't do that, but its brain does control the wires with precision and speed, and the skinflicks that it shows are spectacular. Waves of colour chase across the surface like clouds in a speeded-up film; ripples and eddies race over the living screen. The animal signals its changing emotions in quick time: dark brown one second, blanching ghostly white the next, rapidly modulating interwoven patterns of stipples and stripes. When it comes to changing colour, by comparison chameleons are amateurs at the game.


Folksonomies: biology explanations

/pets/large animals (0.524476)
/home and garden/home furnishings/lamps and lighting (0.462812)
/art and entertainment/movies and tv/movies (0.444962)

squid skin (0.994131 (positive:0.389631)), Screen Television images (0.799926 (neutral:0.000000)), squid behaves (0.771094 (negative:-0.256391)), Charlie Chaplin movies (0.722707 (positive:0.687513)), Light Emitting (0.557573 (neutral:0.000000)), ink sac (0.549066 (neutral:0.000000)), ink bags (0.543871 (neutral:0.000000)), separate ink (0.542898 (neutral:0.000000)), separate muscles (0.540219 (neutral:0.000000)), electron beam (0.532092 (neutral:0.000000)), fluorescent screen (0.528965 (neutral:0.000000)), giant LED (0.522317 (neutral:0.000000)), large array (0.506227 (positive:0.541923)), puppet string (0.503645 (negative:-0.620899)), interwoven patterns (0.500230 (negative:-0.389483)), LED screen (0.495089 (positive:0.541923)), eddies race (0.492817 (negative:-0.371940)), comparison chameleons (0.488312 (negative:-0.250162)), colour chase (0.481569 (positive:0.261959)), living screen (0.467642 (positive:0.245515)), speeded-up film (0.466885 (negative:-0.391097)), quick time (0.465675 (positive:0.462669)), lights (0.396957 (positive:0.223807)), shimmers (0.300262 (positive:0.856815)), Diode (0.281998 (neutral:0.000000)), ripples (0.268764 (negative:-0.371940)), nerves (0.267192 (neutral:0.000000)), pixels (0.264171 (neutral:0.000000)), hoardings (0.259378 (neutral:0.000000)), visibility (0.258208 (positive:0.400848))

Charlie Chaplin:Person (0.799974 (positive:0.687513)), Light EmittingDiode:FieldTerminology (0.718560 (neutral:0.000000)), nervous system:FieldTerminology (0.694118 (negative:-0.241941)), one second:Quantity (0.694118 (neutral:0.000000))

Charlie Chaplin (0.977888): dbpedia | freebase | yago
Light-emitting diode (0.966142): dbpedia | freebase
Light (0.872101): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Lighting (0.824128): website | dbpedia | freebase
Nervous system (0.798713): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
LEd (0.718762): website | dbpedia | freebase
Nerve (0.710162): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Diode (0.681294): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc

 Unweaving the Rainbow: Science, Delusion and the Appetite for Wonder
Books, Brochures, and Chapters>Book:  Dawkins, Richard (2000-04-05), Unweaving the Rainbow: Science, Delusion and the Appetite for Wonder, Mariner Books, Retrieved on 2011-09-21
Folksonomies: evolution science