February Fourier Talks 2007
FFT Blues: Fourier analysis and the structural colors of
The non-pigmentary colors of the tissues of living organisms are
produced by the physical interaction of light with structures in the tissues.
Contrary to what has been previously assumed for many decades,
we have established now that many of the blue and green colors observed
in the tissues of mammals, birds, and butterflies are the result of
coherent scattering. Using Fourier analysis we have shown that the
analyzed structurally colored tissues are quasi-ordered on the
appropriate nano-scale to produce the observed colors by constructive
Understanding the mechanisms of coloration in animals is very important
because of the role that bright colors play in communication,
courtship display, and mate selection in many species. We will describe in
this talk a fascinating manifestation of Fourier analysis and synthesis
in nature providing a way to explain coloration phenomena which are of
in behavioral and evolutionary biology.