Seeing With Your Tongue and Listening to Colour

By Anupum Pant

I’m always fascinated when I see one sense organ do the work of some other sense organ. Like breathing from your eyes ( not really) or seeing with your ears (really) listening to colours etc…

not available in your country

Solving The Technical Problem (Not available in your country): Today, I stumbled upon a video whose title was “Blind Learn To See With Tongue“. It was uploaded on YouTube by CBS – an American TV network. The sad part is that they had tweaked the videos settings which did not allow me to watch it. It wasn’t available in India.

Whenever someone says I can’t do something, I’m almost always prepared for it. This time, I had this extension installed on Chrome called ZenMate. It’s perfectly legal (available on chrome store) and works very smoothly. It allows you to surf the internet with total control. With it installed, you can totally forget about your physical location and fool the websites which place a location restriction for access, like Spotify and Youtube’s “not available in your location” videos. I haven’t tried other things but it should allow Indians to access stuff from websites like Hulu, Pandora and Netflix. (Even if it may seem out of place, I wasn’t paid by ZenMate to write this. I really recommend it.)

The Customary David Eagleman talk

Now, whenever I come across something that has to do with seeing things with an organ that is not really meant for seeing, I remember this very-old TED talk by David Eagleman. And I like to attach it to my blog because I can’t really explain this amazing ability of the Human brain as well as he does. He basically segues his talk to discuss how brain can learn to interpret various kinds of signals to produce an image. So, here it goes. Watch it and read on…

Since it is clear that seeing is the ability of the brain, not eyes, we can comfortably move on to see how you could even see with your tongue – Tasting the light.

Seeing with the Tongue

A device called BrainPort can help you do that. The contraption consists of a camera that sits on your forehead and sends information to a small computer. The information is processed, converted into electrical pulses, and then sent to an array of electrodes touching your tongue. The brain processes these signals and converts them into an image.

At first, of course the brain doesn’t know the trick to process visual signal from the tongue, but it learns. Gradually the device becomes a part of your body and you start seeing with your tongue! Just like Neil Harbisson can listen to colour. In fact, he can see more colours than our eyes can see because the technology allows him. He can see infrared and ultraviolet too!

Listening to Colour – TED talk


Hit like if you learnt something from this article.

Carrots Don’t Really Make your Eyes Better

By Anupum Pant

I have been lied about taste areas on the tongue, gas station & cellphones and what not! I feel everything I have ever known is wrong. And here we have one other myth that got busted today. I always thought was true. Thanks to the following Vsauce video (0:28 seconds) which opened my eyes and sent me to research on this topic.

I was so sure about carrots helping your eyesight that I had never questioned this belief. My parents told me, the doctors told me, my teachers and every one else (even Kawaii) told me.

Eat more carrots. Carrots will improve your vision.

eat more carrot kawaii

The truth about carrots

The truth is, carrots of course are good for the health of your eyes like any healthy diet is, but they don’t improve your vision. You won’t start seeing in the dark if you eat more carrots. Your normal diet gets you enough of vitamin – A to keep your eyes healthy. Carrots do no extra magic.

Carrots contain a substance called beta-carotene, which gets converted into vitamin – A and as everyone knows vitamin – A is good for your eyes. Of course the lack of vitamin – A in your diet could land your eyes in a problem. But you normally get enough of it through a normal diet. You don’t need carrots to keep your eyes disease free. Any more of vitamin – A supplied by carrots isn’t going to make your vision better. 

What is more interesting is how this propaganda started…

The Interesting Myth Origin

Turns out, “carrots make you see better” was a widespread World war II propaganda, clearly a bold faced lie which was used to save London from the tyranny of Nazi. It probably did better than the best email scam ever. The lie blew up, and today it has reached almost every living kid. I’m pretty sure even textbooks mention this.

During the WWII, the Royal Air Force started using radar to spot Luftwaffe bombers at night. But they wanted to keep this trick of their’s a secret. To achieve secrecy What did they do? They started a propaganda.

A story came into existence. According to it, a very skilled British Pilot, “Cats’ Eyes” who ate a lot of carrots, had developed a night-vision of sorts, and had gained the ability to spot German bombers at night by just tweaking his diet habits. British civillians loved the story and started eating more carrots. They thought it would improve their vision and they’d start seeing at night. The story spread like wild fire. Who would have known that the Cats’ eyes story was a propaganda issued by the Navy to conceal their use of radar technology.

[Read more]

The propaganda of course did save London.

Too much of anything is bad

FYI: Like too much of anything, even too much of Vitamin – A can be toxic. Deaths rarely happen due to this. But, they do!
Also, eating too much carrot may overdose your body with beta-carotene and could cause Carotenemia. As a result, your skin would turn yellow. It looks like jaundice, but it’s harmless and easily reversible.

Bizarre Creature – The Tongue Eating Parasite

By Anupum Pant

Background

Firstly, if you are eating something, or you are weak at heart, then go away. It isn’t going to be a pleasant one today because we are going to look at a really bizarre, and probably one of the most grossest creature ever – The tongue eating parasite.

Not that it is really needed here, but in case someone comes searching for it, the scientific name of this isopod is Cymothoa Exigua. It is one of those very large group of animals that includes crabs and lobster – called Crustacean. This one lives in the ocean and is parasitic. That means this creature lives and benefits at the expense of the other, called the host (fish in this case).

Changing Sex

Protandry hermaphroditism: Another interesting thing about these isopods is that the adult males can turn themselves into females. When a creature changes sex from male to female, it is called Protandry. This changing of sex at some point in life is called Sequential hermaphroditism. So, the tongue eating parasite is a Protandric Hermaphrodite. But that isn’t even what we came here for…The main tongue eating part is coming…

The Life of Cymothoa Exigua

The life cycle of this parasite starts with these little ones attaching themselves to gills of, say a Snapper(or others). They enter the body of a fish through gills. When they mature inside, all of them are males. Later, since they are Protandric Hermaphrodites, one of these matured males turns into a female. During this time the males are still attached to the gill arches.

The male that turns into a female, goes to the base of the tongue of this fish and attaches itself to it. It feeds on the tongue and destroys it. Then the parasite attaches itself to the stub and starts acting as a prosthetic tongue!

If you are not in a mood to read, the woman in the video below explains it nicely.

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