Tag Archives | senses

Scientists Create Proteins To Enable Human Eyes To See A Wider Color Spectrum

Body modification to expand the realm of the senses, New Scientist reports:

Researchers have altered the structure of a protein normally found in the human eye so that it can absorb a type of red light that we cannot normally see. The new protein could, in theory, give us the ability to see reds that are currently beyond our visible spectrum.

Colour vision in nearly all animals depends on specialised chemicals called chromophores, which sit inside proteins and absorb different wavelengths of light. Specific protein structures are thought to determine the absorption spectrum of the chromophores within. Babak Borhan at Michigan State University and his colleagues engineered a series of mutations which altered the structure of human chromophore-containing proteins.

If these proteins were present in the eye you would be able to see red light that is invisible to you now, says co-author James Geiger, also at Michigan State University. But since objects reflect a mixture of light, the world would not necessarily always appear more red.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Researchers Develop ‘White Noise’ Smell

Ever wondered what the smell of the universe was? Yahoo! News reports on the creation of a scent that is a scientific attempt to combine all others:

Mixing multiple wavelengths that span the human visual range equally makes white light; mixing multiple frequencies that span the range of human hearing equally makes the whooshing hum of white noise. Neurobiologist Noam Sobel from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel and his colleagues wanted to find out whether a similar phenomenon happens with smelling.

The smell is dubbed “olfactory white,” because it is the nasal equivalent of white noise, researchers report today in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. What does olfactory white smell like? Unfortunately, the scent is so bland as to defy description. Participants rated it right in the middle of the scale for both pleasantness and edibility. “The best way to appreciate the qualities of olfactory white is to smell it,” the researchers wrote.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Why Some People See Sound

The senses are more intermingled than we realize — what we hear influences what we think we see, Live Science writes:

Some people may actually see sounds, say researchers who found this odd ability is possible when the parts of the brain devoted to vision are small.

Scientists took a closer look at the sound-induced flash illusion. When a single flash is followed by two bleeps, people sometimes also see two illusory consecutive flashes. They found the smaller a person’s visual cortex was — the part of the brain linked with vision — the more likely he or she experienced the illusion. On average, the volunteers saw the illusion 62 percent of the time.

“The visual brain’s representation of what hits the eye is very efficient but not perfect — there is some uncertainty to visual representations, especially when things happen quickly, like the rapid succession of flashes in the illusion,” de Haas said.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Enhanced Glasses Allow The Deaf To See Visualizations Of Sounds

Hopefully additional synesthetic devices such as smell-o-vision spectacles are in the pipeline as well. New Scientist writes:

If you can hear, you probably take sound for granted. Without thinking, we swing our attention in the direction of a loud or unexpected sound – the honk of a car horn, say.

Because deaf people lack access to such potentially life-saving cues, a group of researchers from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) in Daejeon built a pair of glasses which allows the wearer to “see” when a loud sound is made, and gives an indication of where it came from.

An array of seven microphones, mounted on the frame of the glasses, pinpoints the location of such sounds and relays that directional information to the wearer through a set of LEDs embedded inside the frame. The glasses will only flash alerts on sounds louder than a threshold level, which is defined by the wearer.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

How Advertisers Manipulate Us Through Scent And Sound

If you’ve witnessed the fetishization of “new Apple smell”, this makes perfect sense. Via the BBC:

In public spaces all over the world, companies are gunning for consumers’ attention, intruding through their ears, nose and eyes, constantly assaulting them with sounds, smells and visual props.

All the senses can be manipulated to attempt to alter consumer mood and perception. Some 83% of marketing budgets are focused on the eyes, according to Martin Lindstrom’s book Brand Sense. Stimulate two senses and the brand impact increases by 30%, rising to 70% when a third is added.

The way companies use smell and sound in addition to visual tools such as advertising posters is not obvious. The sense of smell, “has a direct connection to the emotional brain, unlike the other senses”, according to Andreas Keller, research associate at The Rockefeller University. “Evolutionarily, the emotions elicited by smells are disgust and fear – and whatever the opposites of these emotions are – and social or sexual emotions.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

What It’s Like Living Without The Ability To Feel Pain

A reminder that suffering has its purpose? 31-year-old Steven Pete was born with congenital analgesia – a rare genetic disorder rendering him unable to experience pain, though he has a sense of touch. Via the BBC, he explains that life without pain is a curse:

Steven Pete and his brother were born with the rare genetic disorder congenital analgesia. They grew up – in Washington state – with a sense of touch but, as he explains in his own words, without ever feeling pain.

It first became apparent to my parents that something was wrong when I was four or five months old. I began chewing on my tongue while teething. They took me to a paediatrician where I underwent a series of tests.

During my early childhood I was absent from school a lot due to injury and illness. There was one time, at the roller-skating rink. I can’t recall all of the details, but I know that I broke my leg.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Tears Of Sadness As Chemical Weapons

London-based artist Angela Rose Bracco‘s work If You can Smell it, it has Mass grapples with the power of scents and substances in our environs to influence us. She imagines a future in which women’s tears (the smell of which suppresses males’ heart rates and testosterone levels) are mass produced and used for social engineering:

Science shows us, humans are responsive to chemical signals like other members of the mammalian species. One clinical trial applied the emotional tears of women to the upper lip of men. These men experienced a decrease in testosterone levels without visually witnessing the act of crying.

Accepting this as truth concludes that in our everyday lives we are constantly receiving information on an invisible and olfactory basis. Is it possible in the near present future to mass-produce chemosignals that can be used to decrease aggression in humanity?

If You can Smell it, it has Mass is an installation of a future clinic for the production and testing of emotional tears.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

How Humanity Picked Its Colors

Our long-ago ancestors saw two basic colors: light and dark. Today we see eleven (black, grey, white, purple, blue, green, yellow, orange, red, brown, pink). Tomorrow we will see more. Empirical Zeal on “color colonialism” and the odd pattern that societies follow in erecting “color boundaries”:

Blue and green are similar in hue. Before the modern period, Japanese had just one word, Ao, for both blue and green. The wall that divides these colors hadn’t been erected as yet.

One of the first fences in this color continuum came from crayons. In 1917, the first crayons were imported into Japan… There were different crayons for green (midori) and blue (ao), and children started to adopt these names. But the real change came during the Allied occupation of Japan after World War II, when new educational material started to circulate. In 1951, teaching guidelines for first grade teachers distinguished blue from green, and the word midori was shoehorned to fit this new purpose.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Synesthesia May Explain Healers Claims of Seeing People’s ‘Aura’

Via ScienceDaily:
Researchers in Spain have found that at least some of the individuals claiming to see the so-called aura of people actually have the neuropsychological phenomenon known as "synesthesia" (specifically, "emotional synesthesia"). This might be a scientific explanation of their alleged ability. In synesthetes, the brain regions responsible for the processing of each type of sensory stimuli are intensely interconnected. Synesthetes can see or taste a sound, feel a taste, or associate people or letters with a particular color. The study was conducted by the University of Granada Department of Experimental Psychology Óscar Iborra, Luis Pastor and Emilio Gómez Milán, and has been published in the journal Consciousness and Cognition. This is the first time that a scientific explanation has been provided for the esoteric phenomenon of the aura, a supposed energy field of luminous radiation surrounding a person as a halo, which is imperceptible to most human beings...
Continue Reading

What It’s Like To Have Ultraviolet Vision

Engineer and self described nerd Alek Komarnitsky describes how post cataract surgery, he now sees an expanded color spectrum. What could the lilac glow beyond violet be — auras, pet spirits, Venus rays? Via Komar:

Numerous people who have also had their natural lens removed have written me saying they see similar to what I describe below. I’ve been very happy so far with the Crystals implant for cataract surgery. But one unexpected/interesting aspect is I see a violet glow that others do not … I’m seeing Ultraviolet light!

An eye surgeon recently wrote about blue-violet color changes after Crystalens implants and his experience is that only 3% of patients have experienced (or mentioned!) this phenomena … but some people may just have more sensitive photoreceptors, so the vast majority of the patients would not see this.

Some related interesting tidbits include during WWII, the British used aphakics for signaling using UV lights … since only they could see it.

Read the rest
Continue Reading