Artists take on The Smaller Majority

Last night I saw the amazing David Byrne and St. Vincent in concert, which made me wonder once again what it means to be an artist. It is a person, I have come to believe, who holds a joystick to your endocrine system, and with a flick of a wrist holding a pick (or a…

The Eye

Like the Eye of Sauron, this eye never sleeps. The Red-eyed tree frog (Agalychnis callidryas) from Costa Rica has the upper part of the lower eyelid translucent, allowing the frog to see its surrounding even with the eyes closed. The eyelid carries a pattern of golden lines that obscure the normally highly visible red iris…

The benefits of constant rain

I am not a big fan of cold, rainy days, like the one we are having today in Boston, and so I need to remind myself that this type of weather actually produces one of the richest, life-friendly environments imaginable. Not in Massachusetts, however, but in the mountains of Papua New Guinea. In 2009 I…

The rarity of blue

The other day I was listening to Radiolab in my car (if you don’t know this program, give them a listen), and the topic of the episode was our perception of colors. I was struck by the statement that the color blue is exceptionally rare in nature and, as a consequence, philologists claim, this is…

Three-striped poison arrow frog

Although this blog is still in its infancy, and I really do not deserve to go on vacation after only a few weeks of running it, I will not be able to update the blog until mid-August. I will try, but chances are slim. Since I will be spending the next 10 days in the…

Macro lenses: shorter is better (often)

What is the best lens for macrophotography? In an earlier post I argued that long lenses, 100mm and more, are great for photographing small subjects that are easy to scare off, and need to be photographed from a distance. They are also handy if you want to isolate your subject from its background. But what…