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The Dazzling Physics of Peacock Feathers

If you spend enough time watching a peacock shake his tail feathers, you start to see weird things. We were so impressed with a peacock’s magnificent tail feathers that scientists assumed for a long time that a bird with the longest or brightest tail feathers would be the most attractive to peahens. But a new study by a team led by Roslyn Dakin of the University of British Columbia studied the way they vibrate those feathers. At the proper frequency, it makes the colors even brighter, and the “eyes” of the feathers stand out without appearing to move themselves.

(YouTube link)

The obvious shake is called “train rattling,” while the fine-tuned vibration is called “train shivering.” That’s where the real optical illusion comes in. No wonder peahens are impressed! Read details on the study at Gizmodo. -via the Presurfer


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