Thursday, November 10, 2011

Five Senses and Nine Planets... Right? I Disagree.

Everyone knows about the "Five Senses".  We're taught at a very young age to understand these five basic input methods and to utilize them the best we can in our daily life in order to best understand the world around us:


Sometime what we learn in school can be limiting, however.  Especially things that we learn at a very young age and, for the remainder of our lives, believe to be true.  When I was little I was also taught that there were "Nine planets"... that has been the topic of several astronomical discussions over the past 10 years or so, and it is clearly an issue of the actual definition of the word "planet".  No one wants to add more planets to the "line-up" just because there's... only supposed to be nine!

You see what I'm saying, right?  It's a social, sometimes psychological struggle to shift one's paradigm from believing one thing, to believing something different.  Once a belief, or a fundamental understanding of something is ingrained into our minds, it can be VERY difficult to change that belief.

I believe that there are more than five senses.  And before you go directly to the comments section for your rebuttal, hear me out.  Again, this debate will lie in the definition of the word "sense" and whether or not each "sense" has a dedicated organ.  But to me, a sense can be related to a "channel" for information input, not necessarily an organ.

Some other senses I believe that we, as a human race, have and should be exploring and encouraging are:
"Extra" Sensory Perception (ESP)

Echolocation - Obviously, this is the first one I'm going to discuss.  As far as organs go, this sense uses primarily the ears, but I believe it also uses the nervous receptors in the skin as well ("touch"), as vibrations and pressures from sound can easily be felt on the skin.

Proprioception - This is the sense of the physical positioning of one's own body; joints, limbs, orientation, etc.  We talk about this in depth in martial arts classes.  If you close your eyes and move your arms around, you have the sense of where they are.  It's an interesting sense and you can read more in this article on proprioception written by Bruce Lee's daughter, Shannon.  Some people have been known to lose this sense due to brain injury or other trauma and it is completely debilitating.

Interoception - This is our sense of the physiological well-being of our bodies.  It's how we sense our stress levels, our mood, disposition, etc.

Equilibrioception - Our sense of balance, called equilibrioception, makes use of our eyes, ears and sense of proprioception, above.

Altitude - When we have a head cold our ear drums generally are generally very sensitive and can even pick up on slight pressure changes due to altitude.  A similar feeling can be experienced when scuba diving as the water pressure changes when you dive deeper.  Didn't think you had a built in altimeter (or depth meter) did you?

ESP - An amazing sense that may be controversial and experienced differently by different people.  I know I've experienced certain intuitions that I can't describe.  I believe that information can be transmitted many other forms.  What are your thoughts?

I think this list is probably the tip of the iceberg and if you can think of more, please post in the comments!

I think it would be best to teach children about the "Senses" as opposed to the "Five Senses".  This would eliminate the psychological limitations for future generations.  If a new sense, is discovered, or developed, it would be in our best interest as a species to teach and further develop that sense.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Learning Echolocation - A Moment of Clarity!

In my daily echolocation training, I routinely close my eyes while walking down the hallway in my office building.  It helps when it is very quiet and there aren't any other people walking around (for many reasons..).  Generally I just allow my ears to open up and notice the differences in the sounds depending on where I am in the hallway, what type of pants I'm wearing (I find that my pant legs brushing against each other actually act as a pretty good beacon sound), which shoes I'm wearing, weather I'm walking on a carpeted or non-carpeted area, etc.

After becoming aware of these subtleties, you can start to realize where the walls are by the sounds reflecting from them.  It's not too hard to be able to stay aligned in the middle of the hallway using this basic echolocation method.

Today I had a bit different experience.  In my building, there are several bends in the hallway which are generally more difficult to detect.  A right angle turn is easy, because you will suddenly notice a "hollow-ness" off to one side and you will know that the hallway opens up to that side.  However my hallway has several 45 degree bends which are much more difficult and I generally am too confused by the signal change to know exactly when the turn is coming.  Today as I approached one of these 45 degree hallway bends I kept an open awareness to all of the signals coming in, but tried not to think about it too much. When I did this and approached the bend, I felt a complete shift in my subconscious understanding of where I was.  It was as if the whole environment shifted around me.  I actually felt the walls and I felt the opening ahead of me simply change position.  My body understood the change and almost automatically course corrected.

I think something I've been struggling with is over analyzing the actual science of what's happening and not just being aware of the big picture.  Today I learned that it's easy to over analyze and start thinking about all the actual sounds instead of just feeling your surroundings.  Try not worrying about the details so much and just "relax into it".

I'm certain that confidence played a role in being able to ignore some of the details and relax, so it's still important to simply close your eyes and walk around even if you have no sense of echolocation and have no idea what you're listening for.  This will help build the confidence and comfort level of walking with your eyes closed and eventually lead to the ability to relax.

Good Luck!  Let me know what you find!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Science of Echolocation in Bats - Active Sensing

Followers! I just found this great publication from Nachum Ulanovsky at the Weizmann Institute of Science. It was just published this past May and has some great information on the physics of object recognition, texture recognition, beacon signal mechanics, the radar equation and all sorts of other fun stuff. So forget the books I posted earlier today, CHECK THIS OUT!

Echolocation Books:

Sorry I've been slacking off here.  For everyone out there looking for more information on echolocation check out these:

Listening in the Dark: The Acoustic Orientation of Bats and Men

Echolocation in Bats and Dolphins

The Sonar of Dolphins

ABC News Specials Medical Mysteries Series-Episode #3

Echolocation in Whales and Dolphins

The Neural Basis of Echolocation in Bats (Zoophysiology)


Perception: Philosophy of perception, Illusion, Déjà vu, Direct realism, Gestalt psychology, Animal echolocation, Chemotaxis, Nothing

Transmitting Beam Patterns of the Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops Truncatus) : Investigations in the Existence and Use of High Frequency Components Found in Echolocation Signals

Free 10-Minute Audio Lesson: Learn the Echolocation Click

Learn echolocation clicks with a free audio lesson
Learning how to click is one of the first steps to becoming an effective echoloator. This lesson provides clicking samples of a variety of different clicks and descriptions of when they might be most useful. This lesson has been used by O&M instructors all over the world.

Despite popular belief, it's easy to make your clicking quite subtle or unnoticeable even in quiet settings. There are many different clicks for different situations. I explain all of these in great detail and give examples of where, why and when they can and should be used.

Get your free lesson now:

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