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Concept: Reflection


The Saharan silver ant Cataglyphis bombycina is one of the terrestrial living organisms best adapted to tolerate high temperatures. It has recently been shown that the hairs covering the ant’s dorsal body part are responsible for its silvery appearance. The hairs have a triangular cross-section with two corrugated surfaces allowing a high optical reflection in the visible and near-infrared (NIR) range of the spectrum while maximizing heat emissivity in the mid-infrared (MIR). Those two effects account for remarkable thermoregulatory properties, enabling the ant to maintain a lower thermal steady state and to cope with the high temperature of its natural habitat. In this paper, we further investigate how geometrical optical and high reflection properties account for the bright silver color of C. bombycina. Using optical ray-tracing models and attenuated total reflection (ATR) experiments, we show that, for a large range of incidence angles, total internal reflection (TIR) conditions are satisfied on the basal face of each hair for light entering and exiting through its upper faces. The reflection properties of the hairs are further enhanced by the presence of the corrugated surface, giving them an almost total specular reflectance for most incidence angles. We also show that hairs provide an almost 10-fold increase in light reflection, and we confirm experimentally that they are responsible for a lower internal body temperature under incident sunlight. Overall, this study improves our understanding of the optical mechanisms responsible for the silver color of C. bombycina and the remarkable thermoregulatory properties of the hair coat covering the ant’s body.

Concepts: Light, Refraction, Temperature, Thermodynamics, Reflection, Black body, Geometrical optics, Fresnel equations


Arctic reindeer experience extreme changes in environmental light from continuous summer daylight to continuous winter darkness. Here, we show that they may have a unique mechanism to cope with winter darkness by changing the wavelength reflection from their tapetum lucidum (TL). In summer, it is golden with most light reflected back directly through the retina, whereas in winter it is deep blue with less light reflected out of the eye. The blue reflection in winter is associated with significantly increased retinal sensitivity compared with summer animals. The wavelength of reflection depends on TL collagen spacing, with reduced spacing resulting in shorter wavelengths, which we confirmed in summer and winter animals. Winter animals have significantly increased intra-ocular pressure, probably produced by permanent pupil dilation blocking ocular drainage. This may explain the collagen compression. The resulting shift to a blue reflection may scatter light through photoreceptors rather than directly reflecting it, resulting in elevated retinal sensitivity via increased photon capture. This is, to our knowledge, the first description of a retinal structural adaptation to seasonal changes in environmental light. Increased sensitivity occurs at the cost of reduced acuity, but may be an important adaptation in reindeer to detect moving predators in the dark Arctic winter.

Concepts: Fundamental physics concepts, Light, Refraction, Electromagnetic radiation, Eye, Wavelength, Season, Reflection


Children are notoriously bad at delaying gratification to achieve later, greater rewards (e.g., Piaget, 1970)-and some are worse at waiting than others. Individual differences in the ability-to-wait have been attributed to self-control, in part because of evidence that long-delayers are more successful in later life (e.g., Shoda, Mischel, & Peake, 1990). Here we provide evidence that, in addition to self-control, children’s wait-times are modulated by an implicit, rational decision-making process that considers environmental reliability. We tested children (M=4;6, N=28) using a classic paradigm-the marshmallow task (Mischel, 1974)-in an environment demonstrated to be either unreliable or reliable. Children in the reliable condition waited significantly longer than those in the unreliable condition (p<0.0005), suggesting that children's wait-times reflected reasoned beliefs about whether waiting would ultimately pay off. Thus, wait-times on sustained delay-of-gratification tasks (e.g., the marshmallow task) may not only reflect differences in self-control abilities, but also beliefs about the stability of the world.

Concepts: Decision making, Critical thinking, Environment, Reliability, Reflection, Task, Flipism


Fast dynamic control of skin coloration is rare in the animal kingdom, whether it be pigmentary or structural. Iridescent structural coloration results when nanoscale structures disrupt incident light and selectively reflect specific colours. Unlike animals with fixed iridescent coloration (e.g. butterflies), squid iridophores (i.e. aggregations of iridescent cells in the skin) produce dynamically tuneable structural coloration, as exogenous application of acetylcholine (ACh) changes the colour and brightness output. Previous efforts to stimulate iridophores neurally or to identify the source of endogenous ACh were unsuccessful, leaving researchers to question the activation mechanism. We developed a novel neurophysiological preparation in the squid Doryteuthis pealeii and demonstrated that electrical stimulation of neurons in the skin shifts the spectral peak of the reflected light to shorter wavelengths (greater than 145 nm) and increases the peak reflectance (greater than 245%) of innervated iridophores. We show ACh is released within the iridophore layer and that extensive nerve branching is seen within the iridophore. The dynamic colour shift is significantly faster (17 s) than the peak reflectance increase (32 s), revealing two distinct mechanisms. Responses from a structurally altered preparation indicate that the reflectin protein condensation mechanism explains peak reflectance change, while an undiscovered mechanism causes the fast colour shift.

Concepts: Nervous system, Light, Structure, Color, Spectrum, Reflection, Iridescence, Chromatophore


Much of the global burden of disease is associated with behaviors–overeating, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and physical inactivity–that people recognize as health-harming and yet continue to engage in, even when undesired consequences emerge. To date, interventions aimed at changing such behaviors have largely encouraged people to reflect on their behaviors. These approaches are often ineffectual, which is in keeping with the observation that much human behavior is automatic, cued by environmental stimuli, resulting in actions that are largely unaccompanied by conscious reflection. We propose that interventions targeting these automatic bases of behaviors may be more effective. We discuss specific interventions and suggest ways to determine whether and how interventions that target automatic processes can enhance global efforts to prevent disease.

Concepts: Psychology, Behavior, Motivation, Human behavior, Reflection


INTRODUCTION: Simulation-based education is a learner-active method that may enhance teamwork skills such as leadership and communication. The importance of postsimulation debriefing to promote reflection is well accepted, but many questions concerning whether and how faculty promote reflection remain largely unanswered in the research literature. The aim of this study was therefore to explore the depth of reflection expressed in questions by facilitators and responses from nursing students during postsimulation debriefings. METHODS: Eighty-one nursing students and 4 facilitators participated. The data were collected in February and March 2008, the analysis being conducted on 24 video-recorded debriefings from simulated resuscitation teamwork involving nursing students only. Using Gibbs' reflective cycle, we graded the facilitators' questions and nursing students' responses into stages of reflection and then correlated these. RESULTS: Facilitators asked most evaluative and fewest emotional questions, whereas nursing students answered most evaluative and analytic responses and fewest emotional responses. The greatest difference between facilitators and nursing students was in the analytic stage. Only 23 (20%) of 117 questions asked by the facilitators were analytic, whereas 45 (35%) of 130 students' responses were rated as analytic. Nevertheless, the facilitators' descriptive questions also elicited student responses in other stages such as evaluative and analytic responses. CONCLUSION: We found that postsimulation debriefings provide students with the opportunity to reflect on their simulation experience. Still, if the debriefing is going to pave the way for student reflection, it is necessary to work further on structuring the debriefing to facilitate deeper reflection. Furthermore, it is important that facilitators consider what kind of questions they ask to promote reflection. We think future research on debriefing should focus on developing an analytical framework for grading reflective questions. Such research will inform and support facilitators in devising strategies for the promotion of learning through reflection in postsimulation debriefings.

Concepts: Sentence, Question, Emotion, Reflection, Student, Reflections, Teamwork


The cholesteric-liquid-crystalline structure, which concerns the organization of chromatin, collagen, chitin, or cellulose, is omnipresent in living matter. In technology, it is found in temperature and pressure sensors, supertwisted nematic liquid crystal displays, optical filters, reflective devices, or cosmetics. A cholesteric liquid crystal reflects light because of its helical structure. The reflection is selective - the bandwidth is limited to a few tens of nanometers and the reflectance is equal to at most 50% for unpolarized incident light, which is a consequence of the polarization-selectivity rule. These limits must be exceeded for innovative applications like polarizer-free reflective displays, broadband polarizers, optical data storage media, polarization-independent devices, stealth technologies, or smart switchable reflective windows to control solar light and heat. Novel cholesteric-liquid-crystalline architectures with the related fabrication procedures must therefore be developed. This article reviews solutions found in living matter and laboratories to broaden the bandwidth around a central reflection wavelength, do without the polarization-selectivity rule and go beyond the reflectance limit.

Concepts: Crystal, Light, Refraction, Liquid crystal display, Reflection, Birefringence, Liquid crystal, Cholesteric liquid crystal


A method is proposed for theoretical estimation of the level-crossing rate of the underwater acoustic communication signals that are reflected from the ocean surface. The variation in the reflection coefficient of the moving ocean surface causes the intensities of the received signals to fluctuate. In this work, the reflection coefficient is obtained by modeling the time-varying characteristics of the ocean surface based on rough surface scattering theory. The surface of the ocean is modeled by Gaussian processes that are characterized by ocean spectra such as the Pierson-Moskowitz and Durden-Vesecky spectra. Furthermore, Gaussian random functions with a particular correlation time are incorporated to model the surface that continuously varies over time. Then the standard Periodogram analysis is applied to estimate the autocorrelation function. Finally, the level-crossing rate is calculated with the negative curvature of the autocorrelation function. For verification, comparison of the simulated results with the measured data is provided.

Concepts: Scientific method, Variance, Mathematics, Spectral density, Reflection, Correlation function


Our homes and workspaces are filled with collections of dozens of artifacts laid out on surfaces such as shelves, counters, and mantles. The content and layout of these arrangements reflect both context, e.g. kitchen or living room, and style, e.g. neat or messy. Manually assembling such arrangements in virtual scenes is highly time consuming, especially when one needs to generate multiple diverse arrangements for numerous support surfaces and living spaces. We present a datadriven method especially designed for artifact arrangement which automatically populates empty surfaces with diverse believable arrangements of artifacts in a given style. The input to our method is an annotated photograph or a 3D model of an exemplar arrangement, that reflects the desired context and style. Our method leverages this exemplar to generate diverse arrangements reflecting the exemplar style for arbitrary furniture setups and layout dimensions. To simultaneously achieve scalability, diversity and style preservation, we define a valid solution space of arrangements that reflect the input style. We obtain solutions within this space using barrier functions and stochastic optimization.

Concepts: Time, Space, Reflection, Optimization, 3D computer graphics, Steve Roach, Arrangement, Ambient music


The Effects of Sound in the Marine Environment (ESME) Workbench is a software tool designed to predict the impact of anthropogenic sounds on marine mammals. The ESME Workbench ( allows the user to use site-specific environmental data such as bathymetry and sound-speed profiles to predict sound propagation in a wide range of scenarios and to record the sound exposures received by virtual animals. The acoustic propagation models use range-dependent depth profiles and depth dependent sound speed profiles to compute the received sound level for simulated animal from each simulated source. The propagation models use bottom and sea surface characteristics to account for losses that occur during reflection at these boundaries. Sound sources are specified through parameters such as source location, frequency, intensity, and beam pattern. The animal behavior is simulated using the 3 MB animal movement model. We will provide hands-on demonstrations at the meeting for those interested in learning more about the ESME Workbench. [Funded by ONR.].

Concepts: Oceanography, Animal, Acoustics, Frequency, Sound, Reflection, Intensity, Sonar