playlist

Rethinking how we use the senses

Fascinating and perspective-shifting, these talks demonstrate the ways the 5 senses are being used to build new windows into how we see the world and interact with our surroundings.

  1. 20:34
    David Eagleman Can we create new senses for humans?

    As humans, we can perceive less than a ten-trillionth of all light waves. "Our experience of reality," says neuroscientist David Eagleman, "is constrained by our biology." He wants to change that. His research into our brain processes has led him to create new interfaces — such as a sensory vest — to take in previously unseen information about the world around us.

  2. 11:15
    Wanda Diaz Merced How a blind astronomer found a way to hear the stars

    Wanda Diaz Merced studies the light emitted by gamma-ray bursts, the most energetic events in the universe. When she lost her sight and was left without a way to do her science, she had a revelatory insight: the light curves she could no longer see could be translated into sound. Through sonification, she regained mastery over her work, and now she's advocating for a more inclusive scientific community. "Science is for everyone," she says. "It has to be available to everyone, because we are all natural explorers."

  3. 13:03
    Daniel Kish How I use sonar to navigate the world

    Daniel Kish has been blind since he was 13 months old, but has learned to "see" using a form of echolocation. He clicks his tongue and sends out flashes of sound that bounce off surfaces in the environment and return to him, helping him to construct an understanding of the space around him. In a rousing talk, Kish shows how this works — and asks us all to let go of our fear of the dark unknown.

  4. 9:35
    Neil Harbisson I listen to color

    Artist Neil Harbisson was born completely color blind, but these days a device attached to his head turns color into audible frequencies. Instead of seeing a world in grayscale, Harbisson can hear a symphony of color — and yes, even listen to faces and paintings.

  5. 7:04
    Jennifer Pluznick You smell with your body, not just your nose

    Do your kidneys have a sense of smell? Turns out, the same tiny scent detectors found in your nose are also found in some pretty unexpected places — like your muscles, kidneys and even your lungs. In this quick talk (filled with weird facts), physiologist Jennifer Pluznick explains why they're there and what they do.