Is an artificial eye close to reality?
And can blind people see colour by touch?
Also in this week's column:
Is an artificial eye close to reality?
Asked by Leo Sanualio of Green Acre, New South Wales, Australia
A California researcher predicts that an artificial eye is "in sight" in the near future. Dr Armand Tanguay Jr, professor of electrical engineering at the University of Southern California is currently building the world's first implantable camera for the blind.
In addition, Dr Tanguay predicts, by 2014 we will see the introduction of a 1,000-electrode implant that will allow the blind to recognise faces and read half-inch type.
[Source: Dr. Armand Tanguay Jr, Department of Electrical Engineering, University of Southern California. Reference: Stroh, M. (2005) "We see the future better than 20/20", Popular Science, June 2005, p. 59]
Can blind people see colour by touch?
German scientists are baffled by a blind woman proving on TV that she can "see" colours by touch - at least enough to tell one colour from another.
Gabriele Simon, 48, from Wallenhorst, Germany, revealed her ability on Germany's most popular TV show Wetten Dass. She uses her fingertips to recognise the different colours of various t-shirts and blouses while blindfolded.
Ms Simon says: "It took me 20 years to master this skill. It is a combination of pure learning and concentration. This ability really gives me more independence, as I don't need to ask my mother about what to wear anymore."
[Source: Dominican Today (Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic) 17 October 2005.]
What's worse: Reading in bad light or doing close activities?
Prolonged near activity is more hazardous to one's vision than dim light. This is according to Dr Michael Lawless of the Department of Ophthalmology at the Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney, Australia.
"Near activities" refer those done "closer than arm’s length", such as reading, playing video games, doing homework, or staring at a computer screen.
Dr Lawless claims that Taiwanese research has demonstrated a link between extensive periods of time doing near activities and the development of myopia in children.
According to a study published in the August 2006 Optometry and Vision Science, one of the four major risk factors for developing adult myopia is " high proportion of time spent performing near tasks". The six researchers, led by Dr M A Bullimore are from the Ohio State University College of Optometry in Columbus.
Stephen Juan, Ph.D. is an anthropologist at the University of Sydney. Email your Odd Body questions to email@example.com
Blind see colors by touch?
Here is a simple experiment. I did this many times as a kid with a near 100% success rate.
Get a Nerf brand football (american football) that has one side black and the other side any other color. (Mine was black and bright orange. I'm sure they still sell them.) Keep the football away from any intense lightsource such as sunlight coming in through a window. This will make ensure that it has a uniform temperature and one side is not over-heated. Close your eyes and hold the football in your hand turning it over and over until you have no idea which is the black side. Keeping your eyes closed turn the ball more slowly and feel the temperature of the ball with your finger tips. After some practice you can sense a very slight difference in temperature between the two colors. The warmer side is the black side. I could guess it nearly every time. I guess I was pretty board in those days. Try it before you knock it.
I'm long-sighted and have been since I was a kid (I'm now 27). Does that mean I don't have anything to worry about re: miopia? Does it mean I'm better off trying to encourage miopia? Does it not really mean anything?
I'd love to know...
Cheers & God bless
Sam "SammyTheSnake" Penny
Seeing Colours by Touch
The classics never die. Despite the legions of fraudsters that have visited this well, it still pays out.