Saturday, February 26, 2005

Seeing like a blind man

Wasn't planning on blogging again today, but I had to link to these two stories from The New Scientist. The first is a story about a blind Turkish painter. It reminds me of a story I read in the New Yorker last year about the visual cortex and visual abilities in the blind. One blind man had memorized the dimensions of his roof and could fix it, alone, at night. He had such powerful spacial reasoning, he always knew exactly where he was on the roof. It's intriguing stuff, and has some glorious sci-fi implications. For example, as we understand mind-machine interfacing better, could it be possible to train blind and sighted men and women to interpret radar or sonar signals as visual ones? Imagine a submarine guided by a sonar system hooked up to a blind pilot, so that he "sees" just as a while might. Or imagine a blind soldier "staring" at the sky with a powerful radar system.

The other story is a quick blurb about a British company that has offered to make wedding rings by growing partners' bone tissue. I haven't yet decided whether it's more cool than grisly. But it's definitely bizarre enough to become a good conversation-starter.


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