Some people read their daily newspapers to find out what’s happening around the world, like what crazed group killed which innocent people; or which egotist most recently issued some proclamation denouncing somebody. I skim over all that, and only slow down and read articles that grab my imagination. That happens a lot when I read a weekly column called “At Home” by Marni Jameson. I’ve never met Marni, but I feel as if I know her because I so frequently laugh out loud while I’m reading about her home and family.
In today’s column, she dropped in a bit of information that I’ll probably think about for days. Maybe the rest of the world already knows this, but I was drop-jawed to learn that peacock feathers and butterfly wings don’t get their bright colors from pigment. Not a smidgen of pigment is in their wings or feathers. All that astonishing color comes from the way the surfaces of their wings and feathers are layered to refract and reflect light. I don’t know why, but that delights me.
According to Marni, a Japanese company is using the technique to make colored fabrics that don’t contain any dye. That blows my mind, too. For some reason, the idea of a bright printed fabric whose color hasn’t been imprinted into the fabric but sort of hovers above it because of the way light interacts with its weave makes my heart beat faster. It’s just another example of how incredible life is, and how magical nature is, and how much we can learn from it.
Marni mentioned a serious science book about the wonders of nature. It’s “Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature. The author is Janine Benyus, who Marni says founded the Biomimicry Institute in Missoula, Mont. (I was once in love with a man from Missoula, Montana, but that’s another story.) Even though it’s truly a science book and I probably would only understand one word in ten, I think I have to read it.