The Sixth Sense, Seventh Sense and More…

By Anupum Pant

Do this. Close your eyes and try to touch the tip of your nose with an index finger. If there’s nothing wrong with you, you’ll do it right. Even with no lights on, when you can see nothing at all, you’ll be able to put food exactly in your mouth. What explains this ability. None of the 5 senses are primarily involved here. There are a couple of other senses too which justify the amount of fantastic things our bodies can do.

At school I was taught, “there are five senses” – Sight, hearing, taste, smell, touch. No one ever mentioned anything more than that. Five was the number, and since it could get you demoted, scared, I never dared to question the traditional textbook science. Turns out, just like I was lied about the tallest mountain, carrots, taste areas and several other things, I just discovered that, for all my life, I had been lied about one more thing. About the number of senses.

Let’s keep aside animal senses today and see what we’ve missed in school that has to do with just human senses. Beyond the five senses we were taught about, there are at least 10 more senses that every healthy human being has. Ten, or at least a handful of them should probably be mentioned somewhere in the school textbooks to give kids the picture of what a sense exactly is. In fact, some put the number of senses humans have to as high as 21.

Kinesthesia: The one sense that I was talking at the start of this article allows you to remain precisely aware of every little muscle and joint movement. As a result, you are able to locate parts of your body without seeing or involving any of the 5 traditional senses. Let’s call it the 6th sense.

Skin Sensors: Our skins are responsible to make us feel the touch. But, the skin is in fact, much more complicated than that. The skin has at least five different kinds of specialized nerve endings. Taken one at a time, these allow you to feel pain, heat (temperature), cold (temperature), itch and pressure. So, you can count each one of them as a different kind of sensor. Consequently adding 4-5 more senses to our list.

Balance: In the presence of good amount of gravity, our bodies are naturally able to tell “Up” from “Down”. In simple words, on the earth, we are able to stand up and balance ourselves. The inner ear makes this possible. That is another sensor. You’d count it as one when you put it in a robot, but not when it is present in the human body?

Just to add, being able to perceive time is another beautifully complex sense.

And there are a couple of others too. That said, clearly, humans don’t just have 5 senses. There are more.

[Wikipedia]

World’s Most Relaxing Music and a Trick to Waking Up Happy

By Anupum Pant

Warning: I like to boast in public because it helps me stick to my resolutions better. Following is a paragraph that brags a bit, so please understand…

Phew! It’s been 179 days since I started this website and there isn’t a single day I’ve missed writing something here. Some days the articles were good, other days they were awful. Good or not, at least I slept a little smarter everyday. As a result, I have documented 179 good pieces. You can check them in the archives right now. Be my guest and since it is sunday, take some time to read through some of them, find mistakes, comment etc.This, thankfully, is the 180th article that is being written on the 180th day. That’s pretty huge for me. I’ve never done something this big ever in my life before. Trust me, it is a very tough commitment. If you wish to, acknowledge it in the comments. It will mean a lot to me.

However, today due to some other important work, my article writing ritual got delayed (happens a lot), and now it’s more than an hour past midnight. Thanks to my public boasting, I will still have to keep up. No sleeping before I write something. Or, I will simply have to get shamed in public (if someone even keeps a track of my progress). Probably my sleep will have to suffer today. So I thought, to sleep efficiently, let me learn a bit about sleep!

59 Seconds again!

And as always, the YouTube channel 59 seconds came to my rescue. I love the channel so much, I’ve mentioned it in at least 5 different posts before.

Anyway, the host, Richard Wiseman has a new book in the market – Night School: Wake up to the power of sleep. It talks about the science of sleep. Whenever he has a new book, there are a few interesting videos that come up on his channel that share a very cool tidbit from the book. The book is definitely on my read list, but will have to do with a related video for now.

World’s Most Relaxing Music

One of the videos this time is one hour-long and plays a scientifically constructed music that according to the professor is the world’s most relaxing piece of music. If you keep playing it in the background while sleeping, it will help you sleep better. I’ve tried this one when I took a nap in the afternoon one day. I can vouch for it. I actually had a very relaxing nap that time.

The tune is especially relaxing because, with a 90 BPM tempo and notes moving from low to high, it is scientifically designed to help you fall asleep. Here is the piece. Play it and have a good sleep.

While this would help me fall asleep, tonight I won’t have a problem with falling asleep. As I’m tired, I’d fall asleep easily. What I’m worried about is that I might get less sleep (it really doesn’t matter, I can just wake up late tomorrow). So, here is something from the same channel that, even with a shorter sleep span, would probably help me wake up happier tomorrow.

The 90-Minute rule

During our sleep, we have these cycles where our brain takes us from light sleep to deep sleep and then to a dream state. These three states make one cycle and it takes about 90 minutes to complete a cycle. If you happen to wake in the middle of a cycle, you’d wake up cranky. The trick to waking up happier is to wake up when one of this cycles is complete. There are of course apps on the Play store that help you achieve that, but I don’t have an android phone. So here is what I can do.

I can plan an alarm in a way that I complete several 90 minute cycles and wake up at the end of the last cycle. For that, if I plan to fall asleep at 2:30 AM, to complete a fair 6 hour sleep, I’d have to put an alarm for 8:30 AM. At 8:30, I’d have completed 4 cycles.

Except that these cycles don’t last for exactly 90 minutes. Some times they are more than that, other times they last for a lesser time. Still, by measuring my sleep period in 90 minute chunks, I can increase the probability of me waking up happier. Here is the video where Richard explains this…

Hit like if you learnt something today.

Build an Autonomous Toothbrush Robot in Minutes

By Anupum Pant

Background

If you are looking for a cool little science project, I think your search should end right here because today I’m sharing with you an awesome way to transform your toothbrush into an autonomous toothbrush robot. This one is just autonomous enough to move around on its own, hit obstacles, turn around and continue. But remember, since it is a fun project that can be completed within minutes (in under $5), you can’t expect a lot out of this basic bot.

Also, I did not invent this thing. I happened to stumble upon a video by Evil Mad Scientist on YouTube that taught me the basic idea of how this thing works. So, cheers to him. However, since my supplies were constrained, I felt a need to find some alternative methods to construct a similar bot. I’ve shared the original video and my own alternatives (in text) under it… You can skip reading the next two sub-headings and watch the video below them.

Here is what you’ll need:

  • A toothbrush (preferably, one with angled bristles)
  • A cellphone vibrator motor
  • Some double side tape
  • and a Button cell

Here is what you do:

Firstly, do not worry if you don’t have the exact materials mentioned above, I’ve suggested some alternative ideas after the video.

Stick on motorCute but unstable

  1. Grab the toothbrush and carefully cut off the handle, we’ll just need the head. Now, this part can be the most difficult because the plastic at the neck can be pretty tough sometimes. If you are not confident, take help from an elder.
  2. Use the double side tape to stick the motor on top of the head in a way that the rotating shaft of the motor doesn’t touch the bush.
  3. Connect the button cell to the terminals of the motor. If the whole bot starts vibrating with the motor, It’s done. Place it on the floor and watch moving…
[Video]

Alternatives

  • Suppose you don’t have a brush with angled bristles. You can just take any other toothbrush and keep it under your mattress for a day to get pressed. The straight bristles turn into angled bristles. I had to do this, so I know.
  • Now, if you don’t have a cellphone vibrator motor, you can use one of these common motors too. All you’ll have to do is stick a piece of clay or tape on the shaft to make a counter weight so the motor vibrates when it rotates. You don’t want it rotating smoothly here.
  • To make the bot turn away better from obstacles, I stuck 3 toothpicks on top of the brush in a way that one of them was sticking out in the front and the other two were pointing out from the sides to form wing like structures.

It hardly takes any effort to try it out and then you’ll have your own bot moving around on the floor of your house. It feels great to watch it move like that! If you can, try making a huge variant. Use a bigger brush, pencil batteries and a bigger motor.

[See this for more details]