'I'm always looking for the Hows and the Whys and the Whats,' said Muskrat, 'That is why I speak as I do. You've heard of Muskrat's Much-in-Little, of course?'
'No,' said the child. 'What is it?'
- The Mouse and his Child. Russell Hoban.

Go here to find out more.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

The new 'flip' colours

Iridescent colours are not uncommon in the beetle world. But they are less common in man-made technology. The nano-structures that give this beetle its metallic appearance, are complex. Combine this structural colour with pigments, and there is an astonishing range of colour effects that can be seen on the elytra (wing-covers) of Coleoptera species.

But, using different processes, technologists are working on coatings and fibres that copy these alluring and exciting effects. We have car coatings. Soon we will have textiles, lipstick, hair colours... clothing and fashions are about to get much more eye-catching!

100 years ago technology like this would have been considered impossible. I'm sure I read about this stuff in a sci-fi book back in the late sixties.


  1. How clever! It's amazing how much insects have given to man's progress and there's surely a lot more to come.

  2. Hi ho YP. Thanks for popping in... good to hear you're still out there. Any impact from the tsunami near where you are?

  3. Amazing paint. I'm sure I've seen silky scarves that are iridescent.
    If TVR had managed to get the power to weight ratio of a flea then they would still be in business.

  4. Oh, beautiful!! Slightly distracting though, perhaps, on the road in the sun?

    Can't wait for the hair colour!! I want purple/pink/green, please!

  5. Tsunami? Thailand is absolutely unaffected I am pleased to say. Met an NZ woman in a downtown bar last night. She was drunk and kept grinning, "I'm a Kiwi but my mother is Samoan". Very interesting discussion! Not!

  6. Katherine said...
    Adrian - 'shot' silk has warp and weft of different colours and does have a very similar effect. Thanks for reminding me... This is part of my Masters project. I'll have to reference you in the bibliography.

    Jay, interestingly enough, these effects seem almost more brilliant in the shade. I think the beetles look like patches of water or sunlight on the floor or leaves in the rainforest. ie anything but tasty beetles...

    YP. I suspect that in most parts of the world pubs are not the first choice for interesting conversations. But I may be wrong, it's been a long time since I went in one. Glad to hear you're not washed away.
    The shores of NZ had some unusual, but smallish water movements, but luckily it coincided with low tide.

  7. I've had this open for ages trying to think of the name and, thanks to Adrian, it's come to me. The word I was looking for was 'watered' for silk fabric used for many things but, in particular, I recall it being used for lining suitcases and so on. I assume that's what you refer to as 'shot' silk.

    I thought that the one thing that TVR had almost achieved was the power to weight ration of a flea! They were probably one of the most difficult production road cars to keep on the straight and narrow never mind the twisty and narrow.

    Iridescence is absolutely fascinating. I'd love to see the TVR in real life. Even the 'plain' tiny ladybird in my last post has an iridescent elytra.

  8. AH! Watered silk. That's the stuff. In lieu, yesterday I discovered the cheaper and more available taffeta. I've Bought Up Large. Im going to see if I can make some taffeta beetles...

  9. Amazing what nanotechnology can do. It is not harmless to produce though.

  10. Yes Ben. Although I understand that the solvent-based car coatings which were quite nasty are being or have been replaced by water-based applications.