Barcodes in Nature

I have used the barcode as a symbol of precise analysis, in all its beauty. Mixed light is sorted into its rainbow of component colours and everybody sees beauty. That is a first analysis. Closer detail reveals fine lines and a new elegance, the elegance of detection, of the bringing of order and understanding. Fraunhofer barcodes speak to us of the exact elemental nature of distant stars. A precisely measured pattern of stripes is a coded message from across the parsecs. There is grace in the sheer economy of unweaving intimate details about a star which, one had thought, could be found only through the costly undertaking of a journey lasting 3,000 human lifetimes. On another scale, we find a similar story when we look at the formant stripes in speech, the harmonic barcodes of music. There is elegance, too, in the barcodes of dendrochronology: the stripes across ancient Sequoia wood which tell us precisely in which year BC the tree was seeded, and what the weather was like in every one of the intervening years (for weather conditions are what give tree rings their characteristic widths). Like Fraunhofer's lines transmitted across space, tree rings transmit messages to us across time, and again there is a supple economy. It is the power - the fact that we can learn so much by precise analysis of what seems so little information - that gives these unweavings their beauty. The same is true, perhaps even more dramatically, of sound waves in speech and music - barcodes on the air.


Folksonomies: nature language barcodes

/technology and computing/hardware/computer peripherals/printers, copiers and fax/scanners (0.568579)
/art and entertainment/shows and events/beauty contest (0.453020)
/style and fashion/footwear/shoes (0.447326)

precise analysis (0.973782 (positive:0.320098)), precisely measured pattern (0.958348 (negative:-0.243608)), exact elemental nature (0.899875 (neutral:0.000000)), ancient Sequoia wood (0.866336 (positive:0.321318)), barcodes (0.859143 (positive:0.235074)), tree rings (0.854126 (negative:-0.309508)), harmonic barcodes (0.817160 (positive:0.235074)), new elegance (0.729240 (positive:0.768334)), formant stripes (0.722137 (negative:-0.248645)), Mixed light (0.673080 (neutral:0.000000)), sheer economy (0.665962 (positive:0.857817)), characteristic widths (0.660276 (neutral:0.000000)), costly undertaking (0.660202 (positive:0.710153)), supple economy (0.644847 (positive:0.699338)), component colours (0.643063 (positive:0.825285)), distant stars (0.634359 (neutral:0.000000)), coded message (0.630496 (negative:-0.243608)), fine lines (0.619356 (positive:0.768334)), similar story (0.612358 (neutral:0.000000)), sound waves (0.596173 (neutral:0.000000)), weather conditions (0.585348 (negative:-0.364064)), Fraunhofer (0.499676 (neutral:0.000000)), beauty (0.476810 (positive:0.676612)), speech (0.402331 (negative:-0.248645)), music (0.402164 (positive:0.235073)), dendrochronology (0.373765 (neutral:0.000000)), everybody (0.373054 (positive:0.825285)), symbol (0.372911 (positive:0.706591)), Closer (0.369490 (positive:0.768334)), details (0.356878 (positive:0.300994))

Fraunhofer:Company (0.782484 (neutral:0.000000)), unweaving:City (0.489109 (positive:0.857817))

Tree (0.984088): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Dendrochronology (0.775971): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc | yago
Sequoia (0.729872): dbpedia
Light (0.696092): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Acoustics (0.663195): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Star (0.629809): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Dendrology (0.628006): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc | yago
Aesthetics (0.597510): dbpedia | freebase

 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