Physics and Entomologists

Blow Fly

Blow Fly

Many physicists who are interested in light are fascinated by the iridescence of insects. In the early 1900s, physicists studied insects and tried to explain the physical means by which insects produce iridescent color. We now know that insects can produce iridescent colors by a variety of methods.

Clyde W Mason of Cornell University was interested in color and turned his attention to insects, writing a series of papers in the 1920s. He sought the help of Dr WTM Forbes and FC Fletcher of the Department of Entomology. They provided Mason with specimens and helped him with the insect identification. CW Mason expressed his appreciation in a footnote:

The writer’s ignorance of entomology would have handicapped him seriously if the advice and criticism of these gentlemen had not been available.

Modern physicists and fabrication engineers today still seek the aid of entomologists to provide specimens of interest for their studies and to help interpret the biology. As the science of biomaterials matures, entomological collections remain important resources.

C. W. Mason. January 1927. Structural Colors in Insects. III J. Phys. Chem. 31: 1856–1872
DOI: 10.1021/j150282a008

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
This entry was posted in Biomaterials, by jjneal, Taxonomy. Bookmark the permalink.

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