Earth — The Mystery of Our Colorful Home

Apollo 8, Apollo astronauts, beauty, birds of paradise, butterflies, Carl Sagan, color, crystals, Don Davis, earth, Earthrise, emerald, flowers, Frank Borman, gem stones, insects, Io, Jim Lovell, lunar limb, Mars, Moon, natural selection, Neptune, peacock, Physics, Earth & Space, rainbows, reef fish, sexual selection, solar system, space art, surprise, Uranus, Venus
“Oh my God! Look at that picture over there! There’s the Earth coming up! Wow, that’s pretty!” These were the words William Anders spoke to the other two Apollo 8 crew members, Jim Lovell and Frank Borman, just before he took the now famous “earthrise” picture on December 24, 1968. Since then, other Apollo astronauts and even unmanned lunar spacecraft have taken similar pictures (see above). Notice how Anders reacted to the view of Earth rising over the lunar limb; these were obviously spontaneous reactions to something that caught him off guard. He expressed surprise and noted how pretty it looked. These are expressions of beauty. A beautiful thing surprises us. The fact that the earthrise pictures have been reproduced so many times speaks to their universal appeal. Probably most…
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How Butterflies “Evolve” by Design

beauty, butterflies, caterpillar, cortex (gene), Douglas Blackiston, Drosophila, Elena Casey, Evolution, foresight, Georgetown University, Heliconius, helicopter, hotspot gene, Illustra Media, Intelligent Design, larvae, Lepidopterans, light waves, Martha Weiss, Metamorphosis, Model T, Monarch butterflies, moths, New Scientist, odors, Paul Nelson, photonic crystals, pigmentation, PLOS ONE, Royal Society Biology Letters, South America, tobacco hornworm moths, University of Liverpool, wing patterns
Butterflies, those universally loved flying works of art, offer many reasons to celebrate design in nature.  They showcase aesthetic beauty beyond the requirements of survival (see “Beauty, Darwin and Design,” featuring Paul Nelson).  Their migrations show foresight over multiple generations.  The one-gram Monarch butterflies astonish biologists with their exceptional endurance to survive hardships while flying thousands of miles on paper-thin wings (see “2-Minute Wonder: A Monarch’s Journey“). Their navigation systems exhibit stunning accuracy to arrive at locations they have never seen. Their keen senses can find the right host plants from miles away; they can smell very faint pheromones for mating; and they can distinguish precise angles of sunlight for orientation and timing of migration.  Their wing scales, organized into “photonic crystals,” give precision control of light waves to create…
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