Cambridge Science Centre


My Favourite Exhibit: Pinhole camera

Written on 17 Apr 2013 in Blog

Which came first, the camera or the eye?

Yes, it was definitely the eye, but eyes are just natural cameras, and eyes are so good at capturing images that cameras have been designed to work in the same way!

We have camera eyes, just like a lot of other animals: lions, monkeys, fish. But some of our more distant relatives do too. Squid, snails and even some jellyfish have advanced camera eyes, but they’re a little bit different to ours, so we know that they evolved independently.

I think that the eye evolution exhibit here at the Science Centre is great because it demonstrates how natural selection has led to many distantly related animals having advanced camera eyes.

This exhibit has two big models of different types of eye: a camera eye, and a simpler pinhole eye. At first, it doesn’t seem like there’s much difference between these; the camera eye has a lens at the front, that’s all. But when the visitors see the clear image that it creates, in comparison to the fuzzy shadows seen through the pinhole eye, they understand just how important that lens is!

These giant plastic eyeballs show how much of an advantage any animal would gain from having a camera eye, so we can clearly see why this structure has been so successful in evolution.

Written by Rachel Inglis