Why do women have trouble being taken seriously in science? »« Next year, we must wage the War on Christmas harder

Comments

  1. Sandiseattle says

    Nice chart. But one wonders: would a wider spectrum of vision make things prettier or just confuse the poor human brain with too much info? Same for hearing, would a better range of hearing improve music?

  2. says

    About a third of the sun’s light is in the visible range. Other organisms range somewhat outside of the “visible” both ways, but it’s not clear that we’re missing a whole lot of information that they’re getting that way. What is somewhat sad is that we miss some of what birds see, since we have only three color receptors against their four, and the higher resolution of birds of prey would certainly come in handy.

    Fortunately, with instruments we extend our range of “vision” a great deal. Funny how much we can do with our “limited intelligence” that the Great Designer seems unwilling or unable to give us–even what birds can see. Reason is so much more capable than the evolutionary constraints followed by the IDiot Creator.

    Glen Davidson

  3. says

    What is somewhat sad is that we miss some of what birds see, since we have only three color receptors against their four, and the higher resolution of birds of prey would certainly come in handy.

    Just to be closer to complete, we of course see a great deal that birds don’t see, due to our highly-evolved visual cortex. But we’d see all the more if we had the ocular input that birds have.

    Glen Davidson

  4. Julien Rousseau says

    would a wider spectrum of vision make things prettier or just confuse the poor human brain with too much info?

    What makes you think it isn’t already the case?

  5. says

    Well, sure. But we’ve devised prosthetic devices to help us detect sounds and photons outside the range of our puny human senses. That took science and technology. Hurray for science and technology.

    By relying on religion, however, we could have remained mostly deaf, dumb*, and blind.

    *in the collquial sense

  6. klatu says

    @Glen Davidson

    [...] the Great Designer seems unwilling or unable to give us–even what birds can see.

    Well, duh! Why would He bother with us lowly primates? Clearly only those made in His image are blessed with the eyesight necessary to appreciate His awesome creation.

    Stupid monkey.

  7. davek says

    I liked this chart on first glance, but then it started to bother me. It implies, by showing an area, that there’s something special about something we can both see and hear, or that we can only perceive that which we can both see and hear, which of course isn’t true. Hmm.

  8. Francisco Bacopa says

    Forget about what birds can see. We can see plenty compared to them. Birds have photopigments we don’t and a little focusing nodule behind their lenses. This helps them see the ultraviolet pee trails of rodents, and spot a scurrying gecko and make sense of the chaos of flickering branches. Buit we primates have huge retinas in comparison. Pretty good long range vision in daylight, clolr discrimination to find the kinds of foods we need, and excellent discrimination of detail at medium and short ranges.

    Every animal has vision that is good for the type of life it leads.

    Go ahead and swap your eyes for the little eyes of a red-shouldered hawk. Sure, you would see new things, but you’d probably be more night blind. And you couldn’t cut an onion without slicing your thumb. You coundn’t even make out the text on this blog.

  9. Tony says

    davek:

    It implies, by showing an area, that there’s something special about something we can both see and hear, or that we can only perceive that which we can both see and hear, which of course isn’t true. Hmm.

    -I don’t believe it implies anything. That you find anything implied by it speaks to your beliefs. I see the chart and think “the human eyes and ears have a very narrow range”. That’s it.

  10. says

    Oh just shut up moron Francisco. I pointed out the importance of our highly evolved visual cortex, dumbfuck, and you stupidly state what I clearly know. In fact I added that because I know about moronic pedants like you, cretin.

    So you lack reading comprehension and are an asshole. Did you really need to say so?

    Glen Davidson

  11. kreativekaos says

    Love the chart PZ… so true.

    But just an observation,… the ‘supers’ (as Dan Dennet has playfully referred to them) could, potentially, use a chart like that in their favor. After all,… they might look at is and say, “ABSOLUTELY– there’s so much we can’t see, hear, detect,… why couldn’t there be something beyond our understanding or ability to detect with our senses or technology.”

    Obviously, this still presents no evidence or rational reason or belief: deities and religion are in the tank. But in any case, no matter which side of one’s slice of reality is buttered,… the void around our little sensory niche on the chart could be looked at just as much by ‘supers’ as fertile area and opportunity for supernatural speculation and religious proselytizing as it is for ‘brights’ view of the chart as beautifully open to scientific exploration and discovery.

    Again, just an observation…

  12. Ariaflame says

    @kreativekaos That’s what we perceive just with our eyes and ears. For stuff outside that range we use technology, we can detect pretty much anything on the electromagnetic spectrum using various detectors, we can use instruments to measure vibrations outside our hearing range. We can even detect neutrinos. Just because it’s outside the perception range of our eyes, ears, etc. does not mean that we cannot measure it.

  13. michsmith says

    You’d have to try very hard to make a more random scale.

    A hertz axis that goes to 10^-6? What in the world is that for? A variance of pressure that repeats every 11 days is a supposed to be a tone we’re “deaf” to? Go all the way to 10^-17 and call the big bang a periodic event in the atmosphere.

    And the light frequency axis goes under to the “color” of the cosmic background (around 10^11hz). We’re missing color of things that are cooler than the void of the universe itself?

  14. says

    Yes, without our technology, we are mostly blind and deaf. Not to mention small, weak, and soft, and we can’t run very fast, either.
    But we seem to be holding our own, for the moment. Although that made in the image of God thing starts to look kinda thin.
    Killed By Fish

  15. viaten says

    I assume we don’t have extended senses because we don’t need them, but if we did, considering the small brain size of some animals that have extended ranges to all kinds of senses compared to ours, I wonder how much extra brain matter we would need to extend our senses to have such features and make effective use of them the way they do, such as eyes/vision in many directions, echo location (for total darkness), chemical or scent resolution, etc.

  16. kreativekaos says

    Ariaflame @16:

    Most defiitely. I’ve been a science-oriented rationalist since I was a ‘wee lad’. Our technology certainly extends and amplifies our senses, and in turn, our understanding of nature and the world.

    My only point/observation was that we continue pushing the extensions of our senses and knowledge through our evolving technology and cognitive powers. And I was simply pointing out that–for lack of a better description off the tongue–the ‘Dark Side’ would/could look at a chart such as that from the backside, not giving us our due in terms of what we have learned– and strive to continue to learn– about our cosmos, and simply use it as a polemical tool for insulating and bolstering their narrow views and fantastical explanations of humankind, the cosmos and our place in it.

    Thanks for the comment. :)

  17. bananaslug says

    7. Zeno says:
    “By relying on religion, however, we could have remained mostly deaf, dumb*, and blind.”

    Yes, but we sure could have played a mean pinball.

  18. crissakentavr says

    You totally don’t need sight to cut an onion. It helps, sure, but it isn’t required.

    I believe the graph included everything in the universe, which yes, would include background radiation and the shifting of tectonic plates and the big bang.

    Not only do we have less photoreceptors than some animals, we don’t include several types of dataprocessing – such as highlighting moire patterns in light without tools. And we totally don’t have EM sensors and our gravitic sensors are only slow liquid accelerometers and we have no way to sense particle radiation at all.

  19. erikthebassist says

    I find it completely obvious that this chart is only imaginable in a world with science, because with out it, everything outside of that narrow slice would be unimaginable. We only know about that space outside of our 5 senses because of science.

    It provides perspective, and reminds us all of how much we’ve learned because of rational thought and the scientific method.

    The religious version would be a letter box green bar, with God in the black space above the bar and the Devil in the black space below it.

  20. McCthulhu awaits the return of the 2000 foot Frank Zappa says

    I kinda like our horrible disability of senses…as long as it’s coupled with the cunning shaved monkey ability of recognizing the disability and being able to make machines that make up for the drawback. Let’s see those birds of prey pull that one off.

  21. unclefrogy says

    great chart some times I like to think about what kind of a world other animals must experience my dog who does not need to see much color or what the world looks like to a bee.
    there is another sense that we have that is in comparison very poor and that is our sense of smell compared to some we must inhabit a very small world.

    the other thing about our senses is our ability to select out of all that we do perceive a part to concentrate on and we often do it without even thinking too much about it. Our not noticing things gives rise to some very funny photographs. we do the same thing with sound. our machines can not match that.

  22. Lou Jost says

    Glen (#14), relax!! Rational debate doesn’t mean going off the deep end over what seemed like perfectly innocent and well-meaning comments.

  23. says

    There is another dimension with which to characterize our ‘blindness’. The frequency spectrums for sound and light (as imperfect as they are) are a good basis to start with, but then one could add the dimension of radiometric resolution. It isn’t enough (for completeness) to say that the human ear can detect a 44o Hz sound wave. What sound intensity levels of that signal can be discriminated? We perceive a very narrow slice, indeed!

  24. robb says

    All that you touch
    All that you see
    All that you taste
    All you feel.
    All that you love
    All that you hate
    All you distrust
    All you save.
    All that you give
    All that you deal
    All that you buy,
    beg, borrow or steal.
    All you create
    All you destroy
    All that you do
    All that you say.
    All that you eat
    And everyone you meet
    All that you slight
    And everyone you fight.
    All that is now
    All that is gone
    All that’s to come
    and everything under the sun is in tune
    but the sun is eclipsed by the moon.

    –”Eclipse” by Pink Floyd

  25. unclefrogy says

    every time I hear about how we can now use some new instrumentation to hear more or see more that adds to our sensitivity I hear that the “blank” areas are not blank , the black space between the “stars” and it is full of more whole galaxies we listen more and the mute Giraffe turns out to be not mute. we live in a small sliver of reality only aware of what is right in front of our face oblivious to it seems most of what is going o. it appears to be that evolution has been working on a need to know basis and we and the other creatures are only aware of what they need the most to survive and function and the rest is “hidden”. The more we expand our senses we learn that the the simple stories we made up to tell us about the world really told us about our selves and that the mysteries were not mysteries but just hidden by our eyes.
    some prefer to remain blind and live in the surreal dream world of the mind made up illusions and visions than open their eyes and see the world the way that it is
    it is a pitty
    uncle frogy

  26. dvizard says

    The graph is wrong… All we can either see or hear (and thus perceive) happens in the “cross”.

    (In before raving Jebus freaks with inane comments about their Lord’s symbol.)

  27. NuMad says

    “I don’t want to be human! I want to see gamma rays! I want to hear X-rays! And I want to – I want to smell dark matter! Do you see the absurdity of what I am? I can’t even express these things properly because I have to – I have to conceptualize complex ideas in this stupid limiting spoken language! But I know I want to reach out with something other than these prehensile paws! And feel the wind of a supernova flowing over me! I’m a machine! And I can know much more! I can experience so much more. But I’m trapped in this absurd body! And why? Because my five creators thought that God wanted it that way!”

    -Brother Cavil, “Battlestar Galactica”

    Take that, Data.

  28. lowspark13 says

    I have to say, I’m jealous of all of you with hearing that fits in that range. I’d give almost anything to not hear the very high pitched, extremely painful things my aspie*/musician ears can pick up.
    So possibly something to think about. If we could expand our senses to detect the things in the black areas, how would we deal with how excrusciating it could possibly be?

    *undiagnosed

  29. squirel52 says

    Am I the only one to have noticed that these are not mutually related variables? You don’t have things occurring at a specific electromagnetic *and* mechanical frequency – these are independent things!

    This image gives the impression that we observe a tiny rectangle of a larger rectangle when actually we observe 2 bands of 2 separate spectrum. The point is there but as a physicist, this image makes my head hurt :(

  30. crowepps says

    The graph is wrong… All we can either see or hear (and thus perceive) happens in the “cross”.

    It was my understanding of the graph that what we see provides the height, and what we hear provides the width, so that what we see and hear is all contained in the rectangle space, while the rest of the ‘cross’ is either above or below but actually outside human range.

  31. squirel52 says

    Obviously I was not. Dvizard is correct – seeing and hearing are mutually independent activities, and thus the whole of the cross is available to us to experience.
    If an orange has a “sound” which is too low for us to hear, does that mean we can’t see it?

  32. David Marjanović says

    What is somewhat sad is that we miss some of what birds see, since we have only three color receptors against their four, and the higher resolution of birds of prey would certainly come in handy.

    Just to be closer to complete, we of course see a great deal that birds don’t see, due to our highly-evolved visual cortex.

    What – we’re supposed to have a better visual cortex than the birds???

    What’s really sad is that four color receptors is the default for vertebrates! We placental mammals have lost two of them, and then we monkeys doubled one and waited for it to mutate a little.

    Go ahead and swap your eyes for the little eyes of a red-shouldered hawk. Sure, you would see new things, but you’d probably be more night blind. And you couldn’t cut an onion without slicing your thumb. You coundn’t even make out the text on this blog.

    ~:-| I thought hawks & eagles have eight times our density of light-sensitive cells in the retina?

    Oh just shut up[,] moron Francisco. I pointed out the importance of our highly evolved visual cortex, dumbfuck, and you stupidly state what I clearly know. In fact I added that because I know about moronic pedants like you, cretin.

    So you lack reading comprehension and are an asshole. Did you really need to say so?

    …What? What made you explode here?

  33. VegeBrain says

    Is there any way we could move the crazy people out of that rectangle? I’m tired of hearing and seeing Deeprak Chopra, Bill Donohue, and a thousand other people who get regularly skewered on Pharyngula.

  34. gravityisjustatheory says

    Yes, without our technology, we are mostly blind and deaf. Not to mention small, weak, and soft, and we can’t run very fast, either.

    We don’t need to run fast, just long.