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December 14, 2008 - Bug-Eyed

One of my greatest wonders when it comes to insects is what they "see" or what sensory input they might be receiving from their many eyes, and what it becomes after processing within their small but amazing insect brains.
Some caterpillars have six pairs of eyes, some arachnids have eight eyes, with some insects such as the mantids having two large compound eyes, and three smaller eyes between them. 
What can they possibly be seeing, and how can they possibly parse all that information into usable data for their tiny brains?  We humans have such "large" brains and can't seem to figure out all of our sensory information. Without all of our previous associations, memories, shapes, and perceptions to compare them to, they often flit through without becoming any type of "intelligence" to us at all.
The other day during the clean-up / clean-out at Wood Lake, we came across this intriguing-looking optical device made from a beautiful turned-wood barrel and multi-prism lens.

Purported to be a "prismatic insect eye", I was drawn immediately to it. 
It is similar to a kaleidoscope when you first look through it and start rotating it around, but then if you hold it stationary and move your head you get quite different results.
My first instinct was to put it up to my little camera, but there wasn't time in the middle of the task, so it had to wait until now for me to have a little session with it.

It seems to reproduce colors quite well, and I played around by looking at my single LED flashlight for a while, producing this molecular model similar to the element magnesium. Sort of. Well it has twelve "electrons" anyway. Whatever it is, I'm sure Wesley could induce it to grow into a dilithium crystal during one of his lab projects.

I then went mobile and condensed our refrigerator down into it's own planet. You' would think it's internal atmosphere would be too cold to support life, but we have much evidence to the contrary on that point.

Next I tried the old photographer's technique of holding the camera and lens together and spinning around in the office chair. 
This produced the labyrinthine house of cards derived from my desk organizer. 
Again, there is a lot of symbolism at work here. This is a bit too close to reality for me though.

I'm not exactly sure what this is. Perhaps a pile of Krugerrand, but I think I would remember leaving a pile of Krugerrand around the house. Perhaps a geometrical meteor shower reflected in the gold shingles? Yeah, that's probably it.

This I recognize as our extremely expensive and dirty linen window curtain, with my laminated maple leaf stuck in the window corner for highlight. It also somehow reminds me of stacks of toilet paper. 
What would Freud think? What would Kafka think? And what's more, how do these insects get anything done when they have to sit around and psycho-analyze all the visual-input constantly coming in through their many eyes?
Insects truely are: Amazing Creatures.

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