Lighting up the world of fireflies: Sara Lewis at TED2014

Originally posted on TED Blog:

Sara Lewis. Photo: James Duncan Davidson Sara Lewis. Photo: James Duncan Davidson

Sara Lewis has managed to put herself in the center of a world of wonder by becoming a world expert on fireflies. Her obsession began in grad school, sitting in a backyard in North Carolina and watching the sparks light up around her. She wondered, “How do these creatures make light? Are they talking to each other? What happens when light goes out?” As a professor at Tufts University, Lewis has been lucky enough to answer some of those questions.

Part of the beauty of fireflies, aside from the patterns of light itself, is that they “so beautifully illuminate the creative improvisation of evolution.” They have been shaped by both natural selection and sexual selection.

Lewis and other scientists have made many new discoveries about these odd glowing creatures in last 20 years. A few remarkable facts about them:

  • Fireflies are beetles.
  • There are…

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