Mathematics Awareness Month

Department of Mathematics
University of Kansas
invites you to attend

Why are Birds Blue?
The Mathematics and Physics
of Structural Colors in Birds.

Richard O. Prum

Associate Professor

Department of Ecology

& Evolutionary Biology

Curator, Division of Ornithology

KU Natural History Museum

University of Kansas

Images of several birds
Interdisciplinary Research

April 6, 1999
4:00 pm
120 Snow Hall

(Refreshments will be served before the talk.)

Rainbows, soap bubbles, and the blue sky provide common examples of structural colors in the physical world. Many of the colors of organisms are also structural colors that are produced by the scattering of light waves by biological objects. The seminar will present a review of the anatomy and physics of the structural colors of birds. The talk will present the concepts of incoherent and coherent light scattering, and how mathematics can be used to analyze the relationship between biological structure and the great variety of vivid colors these structures produce. Lastly, the speaker will present recently developed applications of Fourier analysis to study the physics of structural color production by quasi-ordered tissues in avian feathers and skin.

Fourier analysis of tissues.

This talk will be accessible to
undergraduate students.