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Posts Tagged "vision"

Anecdotes from the Archive

Anecdotes from the Archive: Taking On the Monocle Problem

Eyewear has always carried both positive and negative consequences for those who wear it either out of necessity or fashion. This article from March 11, 1911 gives a bit of background on one of the more prevalent eyewear options of the time, the monocle: "The ridicule which was cast upon the wearers of spectacles and [...]

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Beautiful Minds

Wanted: America’s Most Inspiring Dreamers

Dream

50 years ago today, Martin Luther King inspired a nation with his I Have A Dream Speech. What if Martin Luther King was never allowed to put his revolutionary dream into action, stifled by an educational climate that promotes conformity, efficiency, and standardization? In our nation’s standards-based, standardized testing educational culture, there is no incentive [...]

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Expeditions

Investigating adaptive camouflage at sea

Guaymas harbor

Editor’s Note: Julie Huang is an undergraduate geophysics major at the University of Chicago. She is working as a summer intern with the Stramski lab at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, Calif., and is currently on board the University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System research vessel New Horizon. This is her first experience at [...]

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Guest Blog

Will Carrots Help You See Better? No, but Chocolate Might

Bunches of carrots

I can’t count the number of times I have been asked by patients if carrots really can improve their eyesight. I think some are looking for carrots to be a magical cure for their refractive error. They want to eliminate their need for glasses and want carrots to give them perfect 20/20 vision. While proper [...]

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Illusion Chasers

Remembering David Hubel (February 27, 1926 – September 22, 2013)

David Hubel

Hubel had an irreverent attitude towards science “with a capital S”.

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Observations

This Psychedelic Shrimp Will Get You Hammered [Video]

peacock mantis shrimp hammer club

The psychedelic-looking peacock mantis shrimp (Odontodactylus scyllarus) has a decidedly non-peacenik way of getting a meal: clubbing it. This small (3 to 18-centimeter-long), solitary stomatopod wields two dastardly hammer-like appendages. At just 5 millimeters wide, each dactyl club can generate a force of 500 Newtons. That’s enough punch to shatter the glass of a standard [...]

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Observations

Giant Eyes Help Colossal Squid Spot Glowing Whales

giant squid eye

Giant and colossal squid can grow to be some 12 meters long. But that alone doesn’t explain why they have the biggest eyeballs on the planet. At 280 millimeters in diameter, colossal squid eyes are much bigger than those of the swordfish, which at 90 millimeters, measure in as the next biggest peepers. “It doesn’t [...]

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Observations

Jumping Spiders Use Blurry Vision to Catch Quick Prey with Precision [Video]

To figure out how far away our dinner plate is our brain melds the slightly different images coming from our two eyes. Other creatures, including many insects, move their heads to glean how far a piece of food might be. But jumping spiders (Hasarius adansoni) don’t seem to possess either of these abilities. So how [...]

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Observations

Color-Changing Dots Earn Best Illusion of the Year Award

Go ahead, give the video below a spin—pun fully intended. Focus on the white dot in the middle. Did the dots appear to stop changing color when they began to rotate? If so, give the animation another look: the dots change color throughout, but their spinning motion somehow suppresses the viewer’s ability to detect those [...]

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Observations

Retinal implant to restore partial sight approved for use in Europe

retina,vision

After decades of development and years of clinical trials, an optical prosthesis capable of restoring at least partial vision to those suffering from retina-damaging diseases will hit the market. Second Sight Medical Products, Inc., said Wednesday that its Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System has been approved for sale throughout most of Europe. Sylmar, Calif.–based Second [...]

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Observations

Background noise: Elderly drivers might have a brain region to blame for declining driving skills

seniors driving can have trouble seeing close objects moving because of brain

Debate about older adults’ driving skills often touches on obvious impairments, such as failing vision and heavy medication use. But a new study suggests a deeper neurological explanation for why seniors have a hard time spotting obvious objects on the road: They might actually just be better at perceiving large-scale movement in the background, an [...]

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Observations

Night sight: Our eyes scan the action in our dreams

Our eyes swivel restlessly in their sockets during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, an aptly named period of intense dreaming that makes up 20 to 25 percent of total sleep time. Whether this fidgeting is random or serves a function has never been clear, but a new study suggests that our eyes shift their gaze [...]

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Observations

Why so many artists have lazy eyes, and other things art can teach us about the brain

cave drawing brain art mind

NEW YORK—When ancient denizens of central France painted leaping horses on the cave walls at Lascaux, they might not have had the late Renaissance understanding of how to illustrate perspective and three dimensions. But they did, with simple black lines, give the implication of depth, showing the far pair of limbs behind the closer pair. [...]

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Observations

Forget x-ray vision, these fish have UV vision

uv fish vision damselfish

Ever wish you had a secret code that you could use to communicate with a select few? Researchers have found that one little breed of fish actually has one. The Ambon damselfish (Pomacentrus amboinensis) can see detailed ultraviolet (UV) patterns on their fellow fishes—and detect the lack of these lines in other similar species, according [...]

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Observations

Untreated vision problems linked to dementia in the elderly

Elderly people with untreated poor vision are significantly more likely to suffer from Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia than their clear-sighted counterparts, according to a study published online February 18 by the American Journal of Epidemiology. What’s more, the study suggests that vision problems may be a contributing factor in the development of [...]

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Octopus Chronicles

How Does That Crazy Camouflage Octopus Disappear? [Video]

camouflage disappearing octopus video

The vanishing octopus is back. This stunning cephalopod, caught on video by Roger Hanlon, a senior scientist at the Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory, has been making the rounds online again. The spectacular camouflaging act, made popular by ocean explorer David Gallo’s 2007 TED Talk, captures some of the octopus’s most impressive transformations. In the [...]

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Octopus Chronicles

Unusual Offshore Octopods: Telescope Octopus Has Totally Tubular Eyes

telescope octopus

Big eyes can be a big benefit—allowing an animal to see potential prey and predators coming from a wider field. For the octopus, this is especially important in the open ocean, where knowing what is around—or above or below—you is crucial for survival. One type of octopus has taken a different approach to wide-angle vision. [...]

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Octopus Chronicles

Unusual Offshore Octopods: The See-Through “Glass” Octopus [Video]

glass octopus

Octopuses that live in the deep open ocean are difficult enough to find. But try locating a “glass” octopus, which is nearly transparent. Floating in the dim midwaters, this gelatinous octopod looks almost like a be-suckered jellyfish. Rather than camouflaging like most known octopus species, the Vitreledonella richardi has taken this alternative approach to hide [...]

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Octopus Chronicles

Deadly Octopus Flashes Bright Blue Warning with Super-Reflective Skin [Video]

blue-ringed octopus flashes blue warning muscles iridophores

The diminutive blue-ringed octopus (Hapalochlaena lunulata) looks like a sweet, possibly even fantastical creature. Often measuring less than 20 centimeters long and covered with dozens of bright blue rings, it spends most of its time hiding out in shells or rocks near the beach. But don’t be fooled—this little cephalopod is trouble. One small nip [...]

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Octopus Chronicles

Polarized Display Sheds Light on Octopus and Cuttlefish Vision–and Camouflage

octopus

Octopuses are purportedly  colorblind, but they can discern one thing that we can’t: polarized light. This extra visual realm might give them a leg (er, arm) up on some of the competition. And a team of researchers has created a new way to test just how sensitive cephalopods are to this type of light. Their [...]

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Streams of Consciousness

What Is Vertigo? [Video]

vertigo_Lars_Plougmann

  // Learn what causes dizziness in this new video from Scientific American‘s Instant Egghead series. In this short movie, I explain how your inner ears work to help you balance, orient yourself and see what’s around you in a stable fashion. When your inner ears don’t function well, you may stumble, fall, vomit and [...]

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Streams of Consciousness

A Transformation of Light: How We See [Video]

Courtesy of Erwss, peace&love via Flickr.

    Editor’s note: Brain Basics from Scientific American Mind is a series of short video primers on the brain and how we feel, think and act. Below is a synopsis of the second video in the series written by a guest on this blog, Roni Jacobson, a science journalist based in New York City. [...]

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Streams of Consciousness

Brain Benefits for the Holidays? Stuff the Stocking with Video Games

happy face superimposed over man

Happy holidays! As the year draws to a close, one thing I’m celebrating is the fun I’ve had helping put together the magazine I edit, Scientific American Mind. I am looking forward to working on new articles and projects in 2013. (We have some surprises in store.) I’m pleased about my growing and attentive audience [...]

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Streams of Consciousness

Watch the Incredible Shrinking Woman [Video]

“Big” me. “Little” me. Watch these two versions of me–which are really the same size–explain why I appear petite in one place on screen and large in another. The reason, in short, is that I have been trapped in a clever visual illusion, one invented 78 years ago by American opthalmologist Adelbert Ames Jr. In [...]

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Streams of Consciousness

An Artist Reveals How He Tricks the Eyes

deli in poughkeepsie

A few years ago, James Gurney, a celebrated artist and author, stood before his easel to paint a deli in Poughkeepsie. Surveying the scene before him, he was immediately overwhelmed with literally millions of details. People strolled by. Insects fluttered overhead. Signs poked out from the store and up from the street. Every tree had [...]

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Symbiartic

Need Proof That We’re Visual Beings?

In our introductory post, we wrote “let’s face it. We’re visual beings.” Here’s proof:

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Talking back

How The Brain Tells a Volvo from a Maserati?

James DiCarlo is a professor of neuroscience in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT who researches visual object recognition in primates. I had a chance to interview him in late May at the 79th Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Symposium on Quantitative Biology that highlighted  research findings on the topic of cognition. In [...]

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