Light – The Journeyman;

Hello everyone,

Last week we started with a new concept to write and publish our articles. This editorial hopefully gave you an idea of what we will try to establish on our blog and how we will try to integrate guests for specific topics. So before I start my run on the topic “Light” I would like to remind you, that you have the possibility to get in contact with me. You can participate on our blog for specific topics. Please, send a mail to if you are interested.




“In your life you may choose desolation
And the shadows you build with your hands
If you turn to the light
That is burning in the night
Then the journeyman’s day has begun”

– Bruce Dickinson, et al.

Today, I try something completely different from my previous articles and show you my approach to light. My understanding of the phenomenon, the history and philosophy. You will see that nature, technology and philosophy are the pillars on which this article lies. The text draws also inspiration from music and history. I will take you on a small journey of Biomimetics.



I believe that we as humans are very fascinated about light. Most times we are not certain about the specific phenomenon. So is the reflection of landscape on this lake’s surface.; LIGHT

Reflection by Nat Wilson

When you look at this picture, do you think about the reflection of light, or are you just enjoying this image? If you enjoy it, then please ask yourself the question of why?! For my part, I could give you an immediate answer to that question: symmetry. [1] As you see, neither the answer is useful, nor would it have an impact on your consciousness. So I will go forward to:

  • A rainbow.
  • The change of an object’s shape under water.
  • A fire inflamed by burning glass.

There are endless examples of such wonderful pictures and effects. All of these effects are generated by light and its specific behaviour. We were not the first who talk and think about this phenomenos and so I take you back in time, to the advocates of naturalism.



The Greek philosophers are remembered as the first ones, who tried to describe the light as a specific phenomenon. Pythagoras, Democritus, Plato, Euclid, Aristoteles and others, all of them encountered the nature of light in their own way.  They knew about light’s linear diffusion. Also the law of reflection was not a mystery anymore and burning glass was mentioned in a comedy of Aristophanes, about 400 BC. Plato mentioned the optical morphing of shape of bodies when they were put under water in his “Politeia” – Republic about 380 BC. The popular Allegory of the Cave is also part of this work. In this allegory the light has the role as the source of information. In the Analogy of the Sun, light is used dependent on the sun as a source of power, the good, truth and knowledge. [2][3][4][5][6]


To See, Vision


“I am the one who opens his eyes and there is light; when his eyes close, darkness falls.”

– Ra, Turin papyrus, 1300 BC

One of the first theories about the eye was something that we call today LiDAR, Light detection and ranging. This theory provides the idea, that our eyes were emitting light. This light travels through the environment to objects and turns back to the eyes, where our image of the world is created. When you think that you know that from somewhere else, then you are right. It just describes the basics of a speed trap. Today we know that the analogy of LiDAR is wrong and we should use a term like “passive LiDAR”. Our eyes don’t emit light, but they collects it to create our image of the world. So Plato was right to connect our knowledge to light!? [7][8]


The Eye

Actually we know only ten different eye layouts, which is astonishing if you think about the following facts…

Eyes actually detect light via photoreceptor cells. These cells alone could be called eyes.

Depended on the construction pattern of the eye, the light is usually transported to photoreceptor cells. There are no other applications. Maybe this statement makes no sense in general, but think about the versatility of other evolutionary developments!

The first eyes evolved among life forms about 600 million years ago. But in the course of evolution, the eye was developed about 40 times from different species. Further investigations show that the same or equivalents genes are responsible for the eye evolution. This leads to the assumption, that all eyes have the same ancestor.

Nearly all kinds of image generation that we use in our technology are existing in nature. There are only 2 technologies which nature never developed: the zoom and the Fresnel lens. A lens designed for the usage in lighthouses.[9][10][11]


Artificial Adaptation

The first trials to copy the human eye did not aim to copy the function itself. It was a try to restore the countenance of a human being. Not only that we need eyes to interpret our world, the missing of the organ itself counts to the classic pictures of horror. So it is not unexpected that the first trials of copying eyes were used to create aesthetic prosthetics. The oldest known eye prosthetic was found in today’s Iran and is about 4800 years old. [12]

The future will show if an artificial eye will exist- maybe in a form that we never expectd to see.

Artificial retinas are one of those diverse fields of research. In 2011 the first bionic implants were done. [13]

Samsung showed 5 weeks ago how they approach the challenge and presented an artificial eye based computer chip technology. It detects hand gestures with 2000 frames per second. The chip operates with a different architecture: IBM’s TrueNorth-Chip. The classic von-Neumann-architecture is going to be obsolete. IBM’s chip works like a neural network and consists of neurons. The energy consumption is determined with 300 mW. A biological brain needs 100 million times less energy for the same task. [14][15]

There is a track which leads to perfection and nature is the guide. We, as Biomimetic practitioners, should never forget that, if we go for it, we never copy an organ or nature itself, we produce technology.

The journey is over and maybe you see technology as different thing than before.


„Deep gray, came to mourn
All the colors of the dawn
Will this journeyman’s day be his last?“

– Bruce Dickinson, et al.




[2] – Prof. Dr. J. Jahns





[7] The Magic of Light – The Hudson River Museum (2002)




[11] Blindspots – The many ways we cannot see – Bruno G. Breitmeyer





Jan Berger

I'm Jan and I'm exploring this world since 1986. I work as an laboratory technician for surface analytics in the wonderful city of Villach/Austria. Before that I studied Bionik/Biomimetics in Energy Systems (MSc) and I have a degree as a Bachelor of Engineering for Renewable Energy Engineering. My favorite topics are membranes (biological and mechanical ones) and trees. Besides my job I administrate this blog and other homepages. Besides I do a bunch of other geeky stuff including lecturing biomimetics.

Schreibe einen Kommentar

Deine E-Mail-Adresse wird nicht veröffentlicht. Erforderliche Felder sind mit * markiert