Harun Yahya - The Fly's Eye

The Fly's Eye Is a Source of Inspiration
for New Medical Imaging Systems


An inexpensive optical system inspired by the design in the fly's eye is leading to new medical imaging devices.

The benefits provided by the use of magnetic imaging devices in medical diagnosis and therapy are indisputable. Israeli scientists are currently working to develop a new device in this field. They hope that this new apparatus, which is still in the development stage, will offer a significant advantage over those devices presently in use. That advantage is that it will be much more economical than the imaging technology employed in existing devices. Therefore, in the event that this project becomes a reality people will have the opportunity of having frequent health scans. The current magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or potentially damaging X-ray mammography are expensive in these terms:

In order to make use of light in medical imaging the small number of photons (light particles) emitted from the object being scanned have to be perceptible. This represents something of a problem in existing devices. The tissue in front of the object being scanned causes noise in the image by blurring light. In the methods currently employed this problem is overcome with expensive cameras with special shutters that block the "noise" caused by the light scattered by the tissue. That increases costs.

Researchers Joseph Rosen and David Abookasis from Ben-Gurion University in Israel have now come up with a new method. Scientists collect a number of images of the object being scanned and combine these in such a way as to produce a good image of the object. So, they get an average of the images, and the light scattered by the tissue, that is, the "noise" in the image, becomes eliminated. This combination represents a concrete solution to the difficulties encountered in existing devices. The design that constitutes the intellectual source behind this combinatorial solution is no man-made device, however. In seeking this solution the scientists were inspired by the "compound eye" that flies have been using for hundreds of millions of years. Indeed, the title they gave their study is "Seeing through biological tissues using the fly eye principle."(1)

Taking the design in the fly eye as their starting point, the scientists prepared a microlens array of 132 tiny lenses. To test their ideas, the researchers took two chicken breasts and hid a wing bone between them. They then illuminated one side of the meat with low-power optic laser and placed the microlens array on the other side. The images from the microlens were transmitted to a digital camera with a conventional lens. A computer subtracted most of the noise produced by the scattered light, revealing a clearer image of the concealed wing bone.

" 'With more microlenses and other refinements, it should be possible to boost the resolution,' Rosen says. 'With investment to develop it further, our system could in a year be seeing the bones in the palm of the hand or the root of a tooth.' " (2)

Rosen states that this device, which works on the principle of the fly eye, is promising, and imparts the welcome news that with the use of this device the uncomfortable endoscopes or "pill cameras" that have to be swallowed in abdomen scans will be a thing of the past.

The Design in the Fly's Eye

A fly moving through the air is wonderfully agile. It can change direction in a moment in reaction to the smallest movement directed towards it. It can choose whether to land on the floor, wall or ceiling of a room. The fact that the fly possesses a very superior visual system is of great importance in this. Close inspection of the fly immediately gives an idea of the reason for this agility. The fly's eye possesses a design known as the "compound eye" and which permits it to see through a large number of lenses and at a wide angle.

Image of the fly eye taken under an electron microscope

A fly's compound eye consists of a large number of optical units, each with its own optic lens, and produces a large number of images. Neural circuits from each unit take an average of the image, and a clearer image than the parasite ridden background is obtained. The fly's eye can perceive a light vibration 330 times a second. From that point of view, it is six times more sensitive than the human eye. (3) At the same time it can also detect ultraviolet frequencies in the light spectrum that are invisible to us. This system makes it easy for flies to evade their enemies, especially in dark environments.

The compound eye of the fly is a most important organ that plays a role in the visual system, a vital function with regard to the animal's survival. When this organ is examined, we see lenses that specially diffuse the light form a concave surface that provides a wide field of view and concentrates the image on one centre. The edges of these optical units on the surface are hexagonal. Thanks to their hexagonal shape, the units are located contiguously to one another. In this way no unwelcome gaps that would occur if other geometrical shapes were used, arise; the most productive use of the area is made. Although the rays from a large number of lenses would be expected to lead to a confused picture, this never happens, and the fly can see a wide field in a single image.
There is a superior design in the fly eye. This engineering principle, which has been used in human beings for the last few hundred years, has been used in flies of around 390 million years. A more general look at natural history shows that the compound eye design (in trilobites in the Cambrian period) goes back some 530 million years.

Flies have had this eye structure since the day they came into being.

To Whom Does the Design in the Fly's Eye Belong?

The question that arises is this: scientists imitate the design in the fly's eye in developing their devices. The fact tat the fly eye is used as a source of inspiration in modern technology is a clear indication of its superior design. The various components in the eye can be seen to have been arranged for a particular purpose. So how did the fly come by this design? Who arranged all these components in this way and designed the fly eye?

All the arrangements in the fly's eye show that this design was bestowed on the insect by an entity with a superior intellect. There is no doubt that it is Almighty God, the Lord of the Worlds, Who created the fly together with this perfect visual system. This superior creation in the fly is a sign of God's infinite might.

In one verse from the Qur'an God reveals:

Humanity! an example has been made, so listen to it carefully. Those whom you call upon besides God are not even able to create a single fly, even if they were to join together to do it. And if a fly steals something from them, they cannot get it back. How feeble are both the seeker and the sought! (Qur'an, 22:73)

1- Joseph Rosen and David Abookasis, "Seeing through biological tissues using the fly eye principle", http://www.ee.bgu.ac.il/%7Erosen/fly_eye.pdf
2- Judy Siegel-Itzkovich, "Fly's-eye view shines a light on disease", New Scientist vol. 181 no. 2429 - 10 January 2004, p. 23
3- Dr. Julie Palmer, University of Texas, Austin. http://www.esb.utexas.edu/palmer/bio303/group25/DROSOPHILA/compound_eye.htm