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06 - eyes through evolution



white screen with cut out pictures of two eyes, shut. Underneath a title ‘physique’ and the subtitle ‘evolution/ adaptation’ reads.
close-up picture of the machine, where a label is shown. It has a hand icon and it reads (in Dutch): ‘plaats je hand over de photoresistor om het licht te regelen’.

As a part of the final assignment for the semester (our integration project) we were asked to make an arduino installation. This could be anything, as long as it had something to do with the subject: 'the senses'. To complete this assignment we had to perform some research (why you did what you did and what the underlying 'scientific' reason was).

The design aspect was not the most important part, the thing was: it had to work.

background information

I decided that I wanted to do something with the eyes and soon enough I was googling the influence of light on our eyes. You know that your pupils open up in low light, this to let more light in. And when it's bright, they get smaller to let in less light. But I wondered what the evolutionary aspect would be if we live in a low light-environment (say underground)?

My research question became: "How would we look if our daylight should suddenly decrease or increase sharply? Would we develop extra senses over the years and / or would our current senses disappear / adapt?" It lead me - among other things - to the Astyanax Mexicanus or the Blind Cave Fish, a fish species that mainly lives in caves. Since this species lives in completely dark environments, their bilateral eyes (or visible / visual perceptible "eyes") completely disappeared over millions of years. Although its pineaal eye is still present, making it still able to see shades of light. Some of these species live outside caves and those that do, still have 'real' eyes. This really intrigued me.

We had to work with an analogue input and digital output. The most important aspect was the light input, measured by using a lightsensor. By connecting the light sensor to my Arduino installation and programming it in a way that certain levels of light equaled certain levels of adaptation, the installation was complete.