THE PHYSICS OF THE VISION PROCESS

by Gerald Huth on January 10, 2011

The application of the results of modern physics to the initial interaction of light with the retinal surface supports the concept that  the array of receptor  outer segments can be viewed as consisting of  spatial nano-antenna structures. Following from this assumption is what I believe to be a fundamental revision of our thoughts about the traditionally accepted vision process. In this new view, light interacts in the interreceptor spaces (i.e.,with receptor ‘appositions’) and not within the body of individual receptors. Antennas being spatial entities interact with the wave nature of electromagnetic radiation. The millions of these individual retinal structures (‘devices’) function in the ‘near field’ of the light wave ( sub-micron dimensions), and in the very fast, femtosecond (10-15 second) time domain. As explained below, each retinal device translates the absorbed wave nature of light into an electron particle therefore effecting a “quantized interaction” at each site ( I propose that this terminology be used in place of “a photon interacts…”).

Implied  in this construction is the premise that the  eye evolved to  interact with the wave nature of light. There is no inconsistency in this explanation – the logic follows directly from the wave nature of electromagnetic radiation to pure geometry without any resort to an interim (and unexplainable) photon interaction. In fact, it can be seen that image formation in the vision process is actually a direct material embodiment of the physical laws for the refraction of light – no ‘design’!

Retinal antennas are seen to be geometrically defined by the cone/rod morphology of the retina  and are sensitive to (in antenna terminology “tuned to”) only three narrow light wavelengths. These  correspond to what have been improperly termed in the past the three, “primary colors”. Moreover,it is seen that these wavelengths define the extreme long and short wavelength limits (700 and 400 nanometers) and an exact geometrically-determined middle (550 nanometers) of the visual band. The presence of such a fixed  wavelength reference at mid band undoubtedly underlies the color constancy of the vision process.

It is only these three narrow light wavelengths and not the sensation of colors that are sensed at this retinal plane.

The wave nature of light interacting at each of the millions of sites on the retina is translated into a materialized electron particle at each site. This electron is the fundamental signal for all of the subsequent visual image formation processes.

The diffractive plan of the retina taught be this construction substantiates past conjecture that the retina is actually the Fourier (or focal) plane of the eye and that the visual image is  synthesized from three overlapping 2-D Fourier transforms.

The area of the retina involved in image formation  extends from the central fovea to approximately 20 degrees of retinal eccentricity. It is seen from the Fourier transformation process that the fovea encodes an “outline sketch” of the image.  Beyond 20 degrees the retina is sensitive to the short wavelength limit  (400 nm) of visual response acts as wide angle “light meter” controlling through pupillary constriction light entrance into the eye. There is modern evidence that not only light intensity but wavelength controls this constriction.

The hues that we term color are subsequently synthesized from a ratio of intensities on either side (i.e.,towards longer and shorter wavelengths) of the geometrically determined mid band reference point in the manner described by Edwin Land.  Land termed the signals from these two regions “lightnesses”. Whether this synthesis occurs in the underlying retina or in the visual cortex of the brain is yet to be determined. Land’s work is now substantiated as forming the basis for color vision.

It is seen that these  processes involved in the detection and transformation of light from electromagnetic wave to electron particle at the retinal outer segments  function in  the very fast femtosecond (or 10-15 seconds) time . This adds an entirely new dimension to our thoughts about vision directly connecting it with the domain of quantum physics.

GCH

Ojai, CA

1.10.11

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