Michael Land obituary

Michael Land obituary

Michael Land obituary 150 150 icnagency

By: Daniel Osorio | Michael Land obituary | Neuroscience | The Guardian

Neuroscientist whose research revealed the many ways animals from shellfish to spiders perceive reality

The neuroscientist Michael Land, who has died aged 78 from respiratory disease, was the Marco Polo of the visual sciences. He visited exotic parts of the animal kingdom, and showed that almost every way humans have discovered to bend, reflect, shape and image light with mirrors and lenses is also used by some creature’s eye.

His research revealed the many different ways in which animals see their own versions of reality, often to find members of the opposite sex. His 1976 discovery that prawns focus light not by lenses, but with a structure of mirror-lined boxes, helped lead to the discovery of a method to focus X-rays, and in the 1990s he developed a simple device to track humans’ gaze as they move their eyes while doing everyday tasks.

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