New Windows

Red-throated skinkImage: Dustin Welbourne

Red-throated skink
Image: Dustin Welbourne

Here’s a good thought project for next time there’s nothing on the TV: Designing new ways of observing things you would like to see. What do you do to study creatures that don’t travel in packs or flocks, don’t use calls or song to communicate, and which can be very susceptible to rapid injury or death if trapped? You build a better observation method.

“A camera trap is a remotely activated camera that is equipped with a motion sensor or an infrared sensor, or uses a light beam as a trigger. Camera trapping is a method for capturing wild animals on film when researchers are not present, and has been used in ecological research for decades.” (Wikipedia)

I came across a project the other day, the development of new camera trap techniques by Dustin Welbourne in New South Wales. He’s trying to find a way to observe reptiles in their own habitat without disturbing them – apparently, many camera trap triggers aren’t entirely appropriate for the kind of work he does because cold-blooded animals don’t trigger the infrared sensors of many traps. So he is designing new ones.

With the development of new technologies for a specific task, you never know what you might end up seeing, or what other unexpected uses those technologies might serve.

As Mr. Welbourne eloquently quotes in his post, “Every time we open a new window on the universe we are surprised.” (Lawrence Kraus)

That’s my own goal for today – I’m going to think about new windows on the world.

The Conversation – New gadgets are opening windows on┬áreptiles