9 November 2023

Winter Lecture: wingtip decoys and stealth cloaks – the acoustic defences of moths

Join Professor Marc Holderied for November’s Winter Lecture to discover how moths use acoustic defences and why this can help us in our ever-noisier world.

Invisibility cloaks are fantastic devices in popular culture, featuring in everything from Harry Potter to Star Trek. But something similar can also be found in the natural world. Recent studies in silkmoths (Saturniidae) have revealed that they too have a powerful stealth cloak.

These night-flying insects have remarkable acoustic metamaterials. They use their furry bodies and the thin layer of overlapping scales on their wings to absorb the sounds used by echolocating bats, creating a fascinating acoustic camouflage. This discovery helps us to not only highlights the remarkable adaptation of moths but also holds tremendous potential for replicating this exceptional natural sound absorber in noise control applications that can profit us all.

In this illustrated lecture, Marc will use innovative acoustic tomographies to visualise how moths’ fur and scales provide acoustic cloaking. Understanding this can help us in the struggle to maintain healthy living and working environments.

Speaker: Professor Marc Holderied is a sensory ecologist and bio-acoustician with strong links to bio-inspired engineering. Marc’s international research excellence is in the emerging fields of acoustic camouflage and biosonar navigation, with a continued passion for acoustic arms races and wildlife acoustics. He develops lepidoptera-inspired noise control solutions and as international consultant for the automotive industry helps establish Ultrasonic Vision technology. He studied Biology at the University of Erlangen, Germany (1997 Diploma, 2001 PhD) and since 2005 leads the BASElab at the University of Bristol, UK.

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How to take part

Thanks to the generous sponsorship from the Friends of Bristol Museums, Galleries & Archives , this season’s Winter Lectures will be held in person at M Shed and online via Zoom.

If you are attending in-person, please arrive 15 minutes before the advertised start time to take your seat. Parking in the area can be difficult so you may want to allow extra time to find a space if you are driving to the venue.

If you are attending online, this lecture will take place over Zoom. Details of how to join the session will be in your registration email.

About the Winter Lectures

Bristol Museums have delivered a Winter Lecture Series between October and April every year since 1948. Past speakers have included many of the leading experts of their time and some famous faces.

Today, the Winter Lectures are sponsored by the Friends of Bristol Museums, Galleries & Archives and are free and open to all. Lectures are all connected in some way to Bristol Museum’s amazing collections and cover a range of subjects including geology, natural history, archaeology, art and world cultures.