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Extra Senses

More possible genetic engineering
  [vote for,

Linked are a couple things I found that have been previously posted and are at least vaguely related to this Idea.

We know that at least some birds can directly sense the Earth's magnetic field and use it to fly long distances to reach particular destinations. And we know that sharks can directly sense electric fields. Both of these things (and perhaps others in Nature waiting to be discovered) are natural biological characteristics that are consequences of certain genes, or sets of genes, getting expressed.

Some day humans might like to enhance themselves with new senses, beyond the usual six or so (it happens that some blind humans can do limited echo-location, like bats and dolphins; perhaps a general enhancement of that is worthwhile?).

Other extensions to existing senses are reasonably obvious; many insects can see ultraviolet, for example. And some animals (like snakes) can see infrared. Not to mention, recent research shows some of humanity's color-vision genes are on the X chromosome, giving women an advantage over men, in color- perception. And we all know that dogs and other animals can hear higher-pitched sounds than us (and some, like elephants, can hear lower-pitched sounds).

Logically, the way to go about doing such enhancing will involve genetic engineering --transferring existing genes from one organism's chromosomes to another organism's chromosomes is practically routine these days. We simply need to identify all the relevant genes, first.

Vernon, May 19 2016

Magnetic sense 1 Quick_20and_20dirty_20cyborg
As mentioned in the main text. [Vernon, May 19 2016]

Magnetic sense 2 Injectible_20Compass
As mentioned in the main text. [Vernon, May 19 2016]

Human echolocation http://www.sciencem...e-use-batlike-sonar
As mentioned in the main text. [Vernon, May 19 2016]

Female color vision https://www.asu.edu...encolors_090104.htm
As mentioned in the main text. [Vernon, May 19 2016]

About infrared and ultraviolet detection https://askabiologi.../colors-animals-see
As mentioned in the main text. [Vernon, May 19 2016]

For [8th of 7] http://www.gocomics...sequitur/1998/02/15
Seems that perhaps females simply don't care about "account overdrawn".... [Vernon, May 19 2016]

Well, halo there... http://iovs.arvojou...g0070548300004.jpeg
[2 fries shy of a happy meal, May 21 2016]

See near-IR without genetic modification http://amasci.com/amateur/irgoggl.html
by [wbeaty] [notexactly, Jun 03 2016, last modified Nov 08 2018]

See thermal IR without genetic modification (maybe) http://amasci.com/weird/humanIR.html
[notexactly, Jun 03 2016]

Hear radio waves without genetic modification (maybe) http://amasci.com/tesla/earplas.html
But it does seem to be genetic [notexactly, Jun 03 2016]


       // Female color vision //   

       Could there be an enhancement to Female Monochrome Vision that allows them to notice that it says "OVERDRAWN" on the bottom of their bank statements ?
8th of 7, May 19 2016

       //Logically, the way to go about doing such enhancing will involve genetic engineering -- transferring existing genes from one organism's chromosomes to another organism's chromosomes is practically routine these days. We simply need to identify all the relevant genes, first.//   

       If ever something was GM magic, this is it. We know enough to swap colour receptors in the eye, but that's about it. If you want ultrasonic hearing, you can't just plug in a bat gene and away you go. You'd have to modify the entire developmental pathway of the ear, involving somewhere between tens and hundreds of genes and, more particularly, regulatory elements, very few of which we understand at all. Then you'd need to allocate parts of the brain to make sense of the information.   

       Almost infinitely simpler to do it prosthetically. You want ultrasonic hearing? You can have it tomorrow in the form of a heterodyning hearing aid. Want it by GM Magic? Give us a few decades; and then a few more if you also want it to be turn- on-and-offable.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 19 2016

       See ? We've been telling you, again and again, cybernetics and prosthetics are the way to go, not muddling round with DNA molecules ...   

       Besides, that sort of thing can only be compiled in at build time. What happens when your kid gets to be a teenager and suddenly decides they don't want ultrasonic hearing any more ? Try to imagine the sulks ... and it's ALL YOUR FAULT ....
8th of 7, May 19 2016

       [MaxwellBuchanan], some of what you are talking about refers to the "homeobox" or "hox" genes, which are responsible for the overall form of an organism *and* its parts, like organs. Thus relatively minor mods to the genes responsible for the formation of the cochlea should allow both higher-frequency and lower- frequency hearing.   

       I'm sure that some of what you are talking about is quite real, like copying the electric-field sense of sharks. I see the copying of that as a more longer-term thing, than a short-term thing. Dare you say we will *never* be able to learn enough about genetics to do it?
Vernon, May 19 2016

       /Then you'd need to allocate parts of the brain to make sense of the information/   

       I was thinking about this in the context of the Isis and Augi stories. A lot of the apparatus in the brain that makes sense of sensory inputs is probably sitting there idle. It is difficult to grow bat ears and hook them up appropriately. But could one sidestep that with a prosthesis which then delivered the input to that region of brain, perhaps magnetically?   

       I have some worries about unused brain regions and their competence to do real work. Can someone blind from birth see if his eyes are repaired? A good side project would be to exercise the nondominant parts of the brain which could do work but don't, instead coasting along with the strong side doing everything.
bungston, May 19 2016

       //[MaxwellBuchanan], some of what you are talking about refers to the "homeobox" or "hox" genes, which are responsible for the overall form of an organism *and* its parts, like organs.//   

       Actually no, because I was assuming that people would still want the usual numbers of limbs and vertebrae in pretty much the conventional arrangements. Hox genes are highly pleiotropic, but their main effect (and the only one we really mostly understand) is on body segmentation, and the assigning of segments to functions (in humans as well as in more obviously "segmented" animals). You really, really don't want to go pissing around with hox genes unless you really know what you're doing and/or would like major alterations to your personal geometry.   

       The things I am talking about are more subtle, and almost completely not understood. Ask a developmental biologist why the cochlea grows in a spiral, and he'll be stumped. Ask him why the human cochlea has a different shape from that of a fruitbat and he won't have a clue. What you need to understand, [Vernon], is that we really have almost no idea whatsoever how _any_ genes influence things like shape and proportion, except in cases of extreme abnormality.   

       For example, we know which mutations produce short legs (achondroplasia) in bassett hounds. But we haven't even the faintest inkling of an idea of which genes make their heads domed, or why their dewlaps are longer than in other breeds. We don't know why your pinkie is shorter than the other fingers; we don't know why your cousin's ears stick out; we don't know what genes gave Marilyn Monroe that particular smile.   

       What you propose will, of course, eventually be possible. But in the blinding light of modern molecular genetics, few people realize how little we understand about some very, very basic things. At the moment, trying to do what you propose would be roughly equivalent to asking Leonardo da Vinci to change the architecture of a microprocessor.   

       So, I contend, this idea is a prime example of GM Magic - see help file for details.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 19 2016

       8th is married? Is she having counselling?
po, May 19 2016

       So far we've concluded only that [8th] has regular contact with a female stereotype.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 19 2016

       [MaxwellBuchanan], if it can be done at all, then it is not magic. "When" doesn't matter here at the HalfBakery.
Vernon, May 19 2016

       Again, I respectfully refer you to the help file.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 19 2016

       I was thinking briefly about this the other day. About what came before senses evolved. The earliest form of sensing was likely to be electrical field detection through ionic differences across cell membranes. This would have paid off, or at least tipped the balance, even without any specialisation that would lead to future development of specific sensory organs or systems. This implies quite poorly that we all have latent electro-sensory capabilities. That’s as far as I got to in said brief thinking.
Ian Tindale, May 19 2016

       " Dare you say we will *never* be able to learn enough about genetics to do it? "   

       No, but I do dare say - well, never mind, [Max] just said it.
normzone, May 19 2016

       //This implies quite poorly that we all have latent electro-sensory capabilities.//   

       A more direct proof can be had with the aid of a paperclip and a conventional 13A socket.   

       As to the idea, well, whatever. As an alternative, wouldn't it be cool if we all had superpowers? Just add nanotech.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 19 2016

       Whatever that female color vision gene, is I seem to have picked it up.   

       What does this mean?
Did I absorbed my twin sister in the womb or something?

       The only explanation is that you are one of those XX testosterone -insensitive folks, 2 fries.
bungston, May 19 2016

       Well, it's not Klinefelter syndrome where guys have an xxy chromosome... or at least I don't match the profile.
I'd pit my color vision skills against anyone on the planet though. Every subtle hue change on the hue tests stand out like sore thumbs to me.

       Must be my kaleidoscope eyes...   

       If you could ever modify your genetics for hearing ultrasonic audio, perceive electric fields, and see a wider light spectrum, your appearance will be an obstacle to mate, having descendance, and pass on those great genes.
piluso, May 20 2016

       Are you saying that I personally would be rendered unattractive by these improvements? Because from where I am starting it is going to take much, much more than that.   

       Or maybe you imply that my new abilities will make my own potential mates seem unappealing because I will be able to see their auras and hear their bowels gurgling from a distance. Fortunately for them, my standards are already set very low.
bungston, May 20 2016

       // Must be my kaleidoscope eyes... //   

       Your eyes are triangular, and rattle when they're shaken ? Wow ... cool !
8th of 7, May 20 2016

       More prismatic really, being three dimensional and all, and they shake themselves, but yeah other than that... it's pretty cool.   

       This is how I see bright light sources, [link], but they are overlaid by a torus of magnetic-field looking lines, caused by the interference pattern of aligning colors of the spectrum which rotate as the point source or I move in relation to one another, which is not shown in the image.   

       It's quite pretty, but can make especially sunny days after it rains a bit bothersome with all of the reflected glints casting their own auras.   

       Looks to me like corneal ulceration or, possibly, something cataracty (or pre-cataracty) in the lenses. You should definitely see an opthalmologist.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 21 2016

       // cataracty //   

       A kaleidescope, and now a waterfall as well ? That's not a problem for an optometrist, it's an opportunity for a travel agent...
8th of 7, May 21 2016

       Tshh- boom.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 21 2016

       // Looks to me like corneal ulceration or, possibly, something cataracty (or pre-cataracty) in the lenses.//   

       It's caused by something called Higher Order Abberations of the eye. Just a funky shaped cornea that wasn't detectable before the advent of lasic surgery screening.
Like so many other perceptual things in life, I thought that everyone saw light the same way I do.

       I think that might be part of human nature, to believe yourself to be normal until finding out otherwise one quirk at a time.   

       ...normal is overrated.   

       Actually, further to the thing I was on about earlier, the latent electrosensory capability. One question arises — how do we know we have a sense? What comprises a sense? In other words, is a sense something that brings information to the conscious fore, always, and if it doesn’t it isn’t a sense because that is what a sense involves. Or, can it be defined that a sense ‘acts’ upon information even if we have no conscious detection of that action. For example, I might lie in the sun, on a foreign beach, and get sunburned. I might have no idea I’m getting sunburned at first, but my skin is sensing it and acting upon it yet I am not aware of that.   

       The earliest life forms (earlier than the birds, and they were pretty early this morning) may have developed electro-sensory discrimination, which may have given advantage over life forms that had no sensory capability whatsoever, not even direct touch. Later, this electro-sensory sense could refine into light sensing, and then vision, and touch, and other such specialisations. However, if we’re all walking around today with latent electro-sensory capability, we certainly have no way of bringing this to the conscious fore, and have no interpretive means to take that information and turn it into signals that mean something for us. On the other hand, it may be that ‘action’ is being taken, when electric field differences are ‘sensed’. We just have no way of knowing we are even sensing anything, and in turn, no real way of knowing what action is resulting from any sensing, if any sensing is going on. We probably no longer have any interpretive apparatus for a sense that only existed to alert us to proximity of other things, prior to actually bumping into them (or being eaten by them). After all, we now have newspapers (or the Metro).
Ian Tindale, Jun 27 2016

       "Bomb, return to the bomb bay ..."   

       // my skin is sensing it and acting upon it //   

       Not exactly - your skin, or rather molecules within your skin, are reacting to incoming UV photons. "Sensing" and "acting" imply the existance of a feedback loop, albeit a reflex. Many very simple organisms which lack a nervous system or brain - plants, jellyfish, geography teachers - demonstrate phototropism, or will seek nutrients or avoid damaging stimuli, but they don't "sense" the stimulus - they react locally. Light falling on a plant stem inhibits the local production of auxins, which reduces the growth rate on that side, causing the growing stem to bend toward the light source - a negative feedback system.   

       There is no remote processing in such a case, unlike a cat being hit by a paintball - in that case, the pain signal from the point of impact is transmitted to the brain, which reacts by causing the cat to run away, HAHAHAHAHA !!
8th of 7, Jun 27 2016

       It depends how wide the feedback loop is, and how we consider feedback, or whether it has to go through a conscious decision making process in order to properly qualify as feedback, rather than the local effect of response. It seems, and usually is, that a local effect as you describe is a ‘low level’ dumb consequence of some stimuli, compared with a ‘high level’ more intelligent analysis of affairs followed by a prepared calculated response.   

       For example, when people get a job, and continue to not get sacked for several decades in a row, they start to feel as though they’ve successfully pulled the wool over the eyes… I mean, they’re successful, and then they start showing signs that they’re staying put, so they get a dog to indicate territory that isn’t going anywhere soon, and possibly proliferate offspring, to demonstrate that their genitals work, all of which has the effect of causing schools and parks to be built in the area, and before you know it, life forms start to leave the water and walk around and breathe air for a while.   

       Contrast that ‘low level’ chemical response with a ‘higher level’ feedback loop, of a fly accidentally on a rapid trajectory to a human eye. The fly is seen by the eye and the eyelid is shut long before the unnecessary brain has even been told that by the way, this just happened and the eye was shut just in time, so never mind, go back to sleep. Again, no actual conscious decision making was involved, so maybe it wasn’t sensed in the sense of making sense using our conscious awareness to pontificate on holding a meeting to decide on what exactly to do.
Ian Tindale, Jun 27 2016

       There's a YouTube channel called Cody's Lab where a guy does science up in his ranch. One such science that he did was to surgically implant a rare-earth magnet into his fingertip under the skin. He was then able to sense magnetism and electricity through his fingers - being able to tell, for example whether a particular wire was plugged into the mains and feeding current or not. I'd find a link, but corporate web-browsing.
zen_tom, Jun 27 2016

       My theory is that when you’re young, you think you have more senses than you in fact have, and the senses you in fact have you think are more complete and perfect than they in fact are.   

       As one gets older, one experiences what society incorrectly calls failing vision, hearing, etc. This is an incorrect perspective. What is really occurring is that as one gets older we reject bullshit and can now accept a correct and realistic assessment of how incomplete and tenuous our sensory capabilities were all along. We simply stop fictionalising the missing bits we were hitherto under the illusion contained real information when younger.   

       Our vision and hearing etc. was always like that, it just took until halfway through our lifetime to realise that most of the focus, the intensity, the definition and the accuracy was not provided by the sensory apparatus we have, but synthesised by the brain to make things seem super-real — the alternative being too scary for a youngster.
Ian Tindale, Jun 28 2016

       /However, if we’re all walking around today with latent electro-sensory capability, we certainly have no way of bringing this to the conscious fore, and have no interpretive means to take that information and turn it into signals that mean something for us./   

       My latest endeavor with the Isis and Augi characters deals with this exactly notion, if anyone feels like visiting the Spinal Cord Intercept page.
bungston, Jul 01 2016

       [Ian] are you implying that bifocals, although commonly touted as "lenses", are actually some sort of psychoactive thing?
MaxwellBuchanan, Jul 01 2016

       Indeed. The ability to hear one another on a loud tube train is merely the illusion that one should be able to hear one another, especially if they’re friends. By the time one reaches a normal age (i.e. in the ’50s), one realises this was bullshit all along, one was fabricating everything “heard” but the contextual chances of guessing correctly, especially when younger, was quite high enough. And if it were guessed incorrectly it hardly mattered. Similarly, lenses correct for fiction. I can hardly read my phone unless held out at arms length (at which distance it is now too small to read). However, when I was young, we didn’t have phones like that, so I probably must’ve couldn’t have then either, but of course imagined I could. It is just that people go round telling people that as they get older the senses deteriorate. It isn’t. As you get older, the bullshit deteriorates.
Ian Tindale, Jul 01 2016

       That doesn't at all jibe with political leanings, though.
RayfordSteele, Jul 02 2016


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