Stories tagged Infrared Cameras

Imaging
ImagingCourtesy Joe
Some pretty cool work is being done right now at the Science Museum related to imaging the Dead Sea Scrolls. You can learn more about it here.

Feb
13
2010

The Horse in Motion - Edward Muybridge: Eadweard Muybridge used photography to study animal movements - helping to answer a much debated question about whether or not all four of a horse's hooves left the ground at the same time during a gallop.
The Horse in Motion - Edward Muybridge: Eadweard Muybridge used photography to study animal movements - helping to answer a much debated question about whether or not all four of a horse's hooves left the ground at the same time during a gallop.Courtesy Eadweard Muybridge

Scientists who study animal behavior have always had their work cut out for them. For one thing, animal behavior is complex, often involving tiny movements that are not visible to the naked eye. When studying the behavior of animals in groups, this can become even more complicated. Where do you begin to look for patterns? How do you make sense of what you see?

Another difficultly of studying animal behavior comes in designing research tools and experiments that don't interfere with the animal's natural environment. If you've ever tried to walk up to a bird or a squirrel, you know how hard it can be to get close enough to take a good look. The slightest movement or sound, even smells that humans can't smell, can put animals on edge, which might alter the way that they behave.

Over the years, recording equipment and new technologies have made it possible to study animal behavior in new ways. From the invention of photography, which allowed researchers to "freeze" animals and then to set those images in motion, studying how animals move - to newer kinds of imaging techniques that allow today's scientists to observe animal behavior in difficult situations, studying imperceptible changes in their bodies and brains as they move.

This article from The Scientist magazine details how a few researchers have overcome obstacles to studying animal behavior, including the story of a researcher who uses infrared heat-sensing cameras to study the flight trajectories of bats in Brazil. Using ordinary cameras, the necessary lights would disturb the natural behavior of the bats, but infrared cameras give researchers a glimpse of how a very large group of bats behaves at night.

This technology can also be used to study the collective group behavior of other creatures, from very large elephants, to butterflies. Check out the video below to see what bat researchers in Brazil saw when they put these cameras inside a cave.