Jasmine Malone

Biggest docu-happening this week

In HIGHLIGHTS on October 20, 2010 at 4:33 pm

Sooo, how hot was Horizon this week? This science blogger was literally blown away. Firstly, I am not ashamed to admit that I learned so much from the whole thing; every segment of the documentary was another revelation and I was on the edge of my seat throughout!

For starters, what were they talking about: illusions (this blog is sort of one, but more on that another time). What are illusions? We all know. Have you ever received those emails with all the amazing pictures-within-a-picture in them? Examples include the one with what appears to be a simple floral pattern until you look closer and see a couple doing something rude. Another example, one that I find often reflects how I feel, is this one:

Wowzers. And then there was the bit about how most colours are a figment of our amazingly clever little brain that literally translates the three primary colours into other colours for practical purposes (turns out all my favourite colours do not even EXIST! Sacre bleu indeed!). Thank you, dear brain, for giving me all the chic colours of the rainbow because clearly if I had to rely on nature mine would be a very dull fashion life.

And just when you thought you’d heard it all, we meet this amazing lady that can actually SEE her sense of taste, sound, touch and smell as different colours and shapes. No, I did not get this wrong, neither am I hallucinating, I assure you. All us tres banal humans have five senses: sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch. Those with the rare disorder of synaesthesia, however, have the wires of their senses crossed so that one sense works normally but also translates into another. For example, a person with synesthesia will see and understand the number 1, but will also feel it has a colour to it, giving it a whole new dimension. The lovely lady interviewed by Horizon is an artist, and paints her visions of everyday things, like so:

This is what the sea sounds like

You can read more about her life on her blog.

And don’t get me started on the blind cyclist who is able to get around by using sound to guide him. He simply clicks his tongue, and with a quick measure of the soundwaves in his surrounding area he knows which way the path goes. Incredible! That and the fact that he can do all that high-brow processing at once, when I can hardly work out the back-brake system.

So watch it, and tell me. Do you see what I see? Because what I saw was amazing.

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  1. Love it! Great info (and humor… ;) !

  2. I heard about synesthesia on Guardian science weekly podcast (http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/blog/audio/2010/sep/20/science-weekly-podcast-mysteries-of-the-brain) a bit ago – it’s absolutely crazy isn’t it? I’m kinda jealous! Will have to watch this Horizon, and mega congrats for getting linked in to the Beeb :)

  3. VS Ramashadran has done some really cool work on the link between creativity and synesthesia. He suggests that there is an organic correlate to these. Check out his ted talk too: http://www.ted.com/talks/vilayanur_ramachandran_on_your_mind.html

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