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Random Encounters => Everything Else => Topic started by: Flisch on February 04, 2008, 01:29:30 pm

Title: Debate with sense
Post by: Flisch on February 04, 2008, 01:29:30 pm
Recently I had a discussion with someone, who said that it could be possible for alien organisms to 'see smell' or to 'hear light'.

I on the other hand think, that it doesn't work, because I think that the senses like smell, taste, vision, ... are just illusions. Our visual picture isn't nothing more than light received from various cells combined to one picture after all.
Also, even if it would be possible, where would be the point of having a 3Dimensional picture of your nose with the smells or "vibrating drumheads" due to light exposure?

What do you think? Is it possible? And does it make sense?
Title: Re: Debate with sense
Post by: Yannick on February 04, 2008, 01:32:27 pm
How about echolocation? I myself think that the bat's brain forms an image made based on the received sound.
Title: Re: Debate with sense
Post by: stuck on February 04, 2008, 01:34:15 pm
Actually, it is a well-documented phenomenon in humans. Certain people's wiring is jumbled up so that they can "see" what they hear. From what I remember, certain musicians have this ability, and a doctor with the condition described seeing a beeping noise as red daggers.

The condition is called syn­aes­the­sia.

http://www.world-science.net/othernews/060907_synaesthesia.htm (http://www.world-science.net/othernews/060907_synaesthesia.htm)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synaesthesia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synaesthesia)
Title: Re: Debate with sense
Post by: Huckbuck on February 04, 2008, 01:35:22 pm
Recently I had a discussion with someone, who said that it could be possible for alien organisms to 'see smell' or to 'hear light'.

I on the other hand think, that it doesn't work, because I think that the senses like smell, taste, vision, ... are just illusions. Our visual picture isn't nothing more than light received from various cells combined to one picture after all.
Also, even if it would be possible, where would be the point of having a 3Dimensional picture of your nose with the smells or "vibrating drumheads" due to light exposure?

What do you think? Is it possible? And does it make sense?

You say whats the point? Whats the point of life? Noone as we know it.

Anywayss... When our nose analyses the atoms we sense as smell it translates its analysation of the atoms into impulses sent to the brain. What says that a brain necessarily needs to convert theese impulses to "smell"? Why not translate it to an image? Then we would "see smell". I think it works, and I am ready to debate to death.
Title: Re: Debate with sense
Post by: Flisch on February 04, 2008, 01:57:51 pm
Recently I had a discussion with someone, who said that it could be possible for alien organisms to 'see smell' or to 'hear light'.

I on the other hand think, that it doesn't work, because I think that the senses like smell, taste, vision, ... are just illusions. Our visual picture isn't nothing more than light received from various cells combined to one picture after all.
Also, even if it would be possible, where would be the point of having a 3Dimensional picture of your nose with the smells or "vibrating drumheads" due to light exposure?

What do you think? Is it possible? And does it make sense?

You say whats the point? Whats the point of life? Noone as we know it.
To reproduce (clone) the DNA. Cells are merely a hull to spread the genes and to protect it from the harsh environment.

Anywayss... When our nose analyses the atoms we sense as smell it translates its analysation of the atoms into impulses sent to the brain. What says that a brain necessarily needs to convert theese impulses to "smell"? Why not translate it to an image? Then we would "see smell". I think it works, and I am ready to debate to death.
How would the image then look like? Basically it's just one single information: This smell stinks. How do you make a picture of just one single information?

How about echolocation? I myself think that the bat's brain forms an image made based on the received sound.
However, it's still hearing. If you hear a sound nearer to your right ear than your left ear, you can say, that its source must be coming from your right side. You can actually 'locate' it or at least give a more specific direction on where it comes from. Do you call it vision? Some owls for example have their ears located in different heights of their heads, so that they can detect prey much more precisely. Do you call this vision then? Also vision and echolocation work entirely different: Vision creates a 2-dimensional picture without depth. That's why we need two eyes, so that we can see 3-dimensional. (And even that is merely an illusion by overlaying two 2-dimensional pictures.) Echolocation on the other hand creates a real 3-dimensional picture by analizing when which sound came back to the reflection. A sound-part which comes back earlier than the other indicates, that the object it got reflected from is nearer to the animal than the other sound-part.
By the way: Can a 3-dimensional 'thing' be considered as an 'image'?

Actually, it is a well-documented phenomenon in humans. Certain people's wiring is jumbled up so that they can "see" what they hear. From what I remember, certain musicians have this ability, and a doctor with the condition described seeing a beeping noise as red daggers.

The condition is called syn­aes­the­sia.
Isn't that more like an association? If I'm getting told of some event, I'm having a certain picture in my head of this event. Or if I think of a person, I can "see" their face in my mind.
Title: Re: Debate with sense
Post by: stuck on February 04, 2008, 02:02:13 pm
No. Follow the links and read them.
Title: Re: Debate with sense
Post by: Yannick on February 04, 2008, 02:03:23 pm
Yes, it can be seen as an image. Simple by the fact that the bat, who is practically blind can navigate as if he could see in the dark. It's all just an illusion like you said yourself, because it all just depends on how the brain processes it.
Title: Re: Debate with sense
Post by: Yokto on February 04, 2008, 02:14:17 pm
Flisch said i should post so....



syn­aes­the­sia is one thing. It is assosisating one sense with a other to put it simple. Some people have smiler experience when seeing numbers from different colors for different number to seeing internal pictures of forms and shapes. Most people are believe to have limited syn­aes­the­sia. Some of it may be culture wile others seems more natural.



Now sensing you world with other sense and gaining a sense of how things are also exist. Most humans have a very limited abilities of this beyond sight. That is simply because out brain works with sight all the time. But we can learn to sense our world in more detail with our other sense to. Best documented cases of this are people who are blind but can still get a picture how the world looks like with there hearing.

And as we all know other sense are more dominant in some animals. Hammerhead sharks are a lot more depended on there other sense the there sight compared to other sharks. Specially there ability to detect electrical currents. Moles use vibrations and bats echolocation.
Title: Re: Debate with sense
Post by: Flisch on February 04, 2008, 02:18:06 pm
Yes, it can be seen as an image. Simple by the fact that the bat, who is practically blind can navigate as if he could see in the dark. It's all just an illusion like you said yourself, because it all just depends on how the brain processes it.
Do you consider your hearing as an image?

I define image as a 2-dimensional copy of the surroundings. But maybe I'm confusing it with picture or whatever. :-\

No. Follow the links and read them.
Well, I read it, and I still think, that it's just a kind of association. Just that it's alot more distinctive. However, if it's like it's said in the links, then I must be a synesthete too, since I think of an actual image, when I hear/read/imagine a number. Or I got a special picture/image in my mind, when I'm listening to music. Where's the difference between association and synesthesia?

Warning - while you were typing a new reply has been posted. You may wish to review your post.

@Yokto: So you define image as sensing the surroundings?
Title: Re: Debate with sense
Post by: Yokto on February 04, 2008, 02:24:48 pm
I do not define it to tell the truth. It is up to you that made the topic.
Title: Re: Debate with sense
Post by: Ultramarine on February 04, 2008, 02:48:20 pm
I do not define it to tell the truth. It is up to you that made the topic.

Yeah he's right about this one.
Title: Re: Debate with sense
Post by: Yokto on February 04, 2008, 02:50:45 pm
I do not define it to tell the truth. It is up to you that made the topic.

Yeah he's right about this one.

I am always right.

>_>

<_<
Title: Re: Debate with sense
Post by: stuck on February 04, 2008, 03:53:29 pm
No. Follow the links and read them.
Well, I read it, and I still think, that it's just a kind of association. Just that it's alot more distinctive. However, if it's like it's said in the links, then I must be a synesthete too, since I think of an actual image, when I hear/read/imagine a number. Or I got a special picture/image in my mind, when I'm listening to music. Where's the difference between association and synesthesia?

Well, you might have it, actually. They predict it ranges from one in 20000 to 1 in 28. The best tests, it seems, are those that check if you hold a mental image permanently. I think all people form a mental picture in their mind of certain concepts, but the thing about synesthetes is that it isn't really a mental picture for some of them, more of a direct interference in their optic nerve, for instance.

I think the best instance of this is the guy who can taste sounds. The sound of f, for him, tastes like sherbet. I don't think that you form a mental association of sherbet and f, but rather the wiring gets convoluted.
Title: Re: Debate with sense
Post by: Oviraptor on February 04, 2008, 03:57:37 pm
You could definitely "see" the world using only smells. However, touch would be a very necessary part of being able to make sens of the smells. In fact, touch is probably the most important sense for all animals (meaning it's always necessary, not that it's always the most developed) that can "visualize" their environment. Picture an organism with olfactory organs spread out along its body. By sensing the differences in each organ, they can get a rough idea of what is around them. But without touch, it wouldn't be very effective. This is because of wind.

Here is a list of pros and cons for different senses for visualizing an environment:

Light: Pros: Very fast. It works well for both very long and very short distances without losing much information. Cons: Very easy to form optical illusions, especially without depth perception.

Sound: Pros: Pretty fast. Work pretty well for long distances, and very well for short ones. Cons: Not as fast as light. Shape has significant effects on what "image" your "brain" will reconstruct.

Touch: Pros: Very Fast. Works very well for very short distances. Gives you a completely undistorted "map" of what you touch (most humans aren't highly attuned to seeing with their touch, so their brains' warp it into "seeing" what you think you are touching). Cons: Doesn't work well at all for long distances (except for vibrations). You nearly always have to touch something for you to have an image of what it looks like.

Electricity Pros: Fast. Works well in water. Good for semi-close distances. Cons: Doesn't work very well outside of water. Only works on things that give of a charge. Because of the nature of electricity, it's better for finding the general direction then creating an image of the world. Touch would be needed to get more then a general idea of your environment.

Taste Pros: Pretty fast. Gives you very detailed information on whatever you taste. Cons: Of no use for making an image without the sense of touch.

Smell Pros: Gives you detailed information on whatever you smell. Cons: Very slow when compared to the other senses. Of no use for making an image without the sense of touch. Even then, smells can only give you a very general view of the world. Touch would probably end up being dominant.

Note: Taste and smell senses differ only in that taste is generally sensing solids and smell is fluids (as used by me).

Or at least that's the way I perceive it. I tried to order them from most to least effective. The bottom three become much more effective when they are combined with touch.

Edit: If anything needs clarifying, ask, because I will otherwise assume you know what I meant.
Title: Re: Debate with sense
Post by: Yokto on February 04, 2008, 04:27:34 pm
There is also the question of active and passive senses. Sonar is a active one for example and if differs a lot form passive hearing. Sight is for most part a passive sense but some creatures can produce light to help them see things. (Like humans with out technology.)
Title: Re: Debate with sense
Post by: Oviraptor on February 04, 2008, 04:54:28 pm
In my list, I made no distinction between active and passive senses, but I don't think it really changes anything I said. Also, I put them in the order I would perceive as most to least effective, but I guess that is something that's at least semi-subjective.
Title: Re: Debate with sense
Post by: Yokto on February 04, 2008, 04:57:45 pm
Well it does have a impact. hearing without active hearing is not that effective unlike sight.
Title: Re: Debate with sense
Post by: Oviraptor on February 04, 2008, 05:01:01 pm
Well, if you read my sound description, it should be fairly obvious that I assumed active sound and passive sound was used. I simply meant that I didn't specify which I meant, not that I didn't think it would make a difference.
Title: Re: Debate with sense
Post by: Yokto on February 04, 2008, 05:09:53 pm
Yes but i felt that it was worth noting. Else i would not have said anything.

Hmm.... A active smell system? That sounds interesting.
Title: Re: Debate with sense
Post by: Huckbuck on February 05, 2008, 07:27:36 am
You could definitely "see" the world using only smells. However, touch would be a very necessary part of being able to make sens of the smells...

Me and Flisch debated if it would be possible to have creatures who used smell to create images, so you say that it does work in combination with touch? I won Flisch! ;) :P

I came up with one idea yesterday that Im not sure if its possible, but what if smell, vision AND hearing signals would be converted into ONE image? Would it work? If you only see light and dark with the eyes, and maybe use colors for the hearing and smell in some way it could create some sort of ultrasense. I guess you could add both electricity and echolocation to :P

Anywayss... When our nose analyses the atoms we sense as smell it translates its analysation of the atoms into impulses sent to the brain. What says that a brain necessarily needs to convert theese impulses to "smell"? Why not translate it to an image? Then we would "see smell". I think it works, and I am ready to debate to death.
How would the image then look like? Basically it's just one single information: This smell stinks. How do you make a picture of just one single information?
Title: Re: Debate with sense
Post by: Daxx on February 05, 2008, 10:03:55 am
How would the image then look like? Basically it's just one single information: This smell stinks. How do you make a picture of just one single information?

Cue Morbo.

SMELL DOES NOT WORK THAT WAY

You get far more information from a smell than just "this smells". Otherwise, how do you suppose sharks find their prey through smelling the blood? How do dogs find criminals? A smell can tell you what caused it, how long it's been there, how far away it is, whether the thing causing the smell moved. Given enough sensitivity you could smell pretty much anything, though some things wouldn't leave much of an impression. Certainly in the natural world, combined with touch it could still be a reasonably useful and potentially workable sensory system.

Besides which, look up synaesthesia (which I guess you already were asked to and ignored). People can see smells already.
Title: Re: Debate with sense
Post by: Flisch on February 05, 2008, 11:01:07 am
How would the image then look like? Basically it's just one single information: This smell stinks. How do you make a picture of just one single information?

Cue Morbo.

SMELL DOES NOT WORK THAT WAY

You get far more information from a smell than just "this smells". Otherwise, how do you suppose sharks find their prey through smelling the blood? How do dogs find criminals? A smell can tell you what caused it, how long it's been there, how far away it is, whether the thing causing the smell moved. Given enough sensitivity you could smell pretty much anything, though some things wouldn't leave much of an impression. Certainly in the natural world, combined with touch it could still be a reasonably useful and potentially workable sensory system.
Because, apparently, my knowledge about olfaction isn't as good as yours, would you be so kind to explain it on a bio-chemistrical level? And then explain how molecules, which are detected in the nose can give an answer on how far it is away? And how long this molecule has been there?
And don't link me to a wikipedia site, because I've already read it.

Besides which, look up synaesthesia (which I guess you already were asked to and ignored). People can see smells already.
Thank you, but I looked it up and didn't ignore what Stuck said. Also "People can see smells already." isn't really an answer to my question.
Title: Re: Debate with sense
Post by: Manna on February 07, 2008, 12:29:14 am
Because, apparently, my knowledge about olfaction isn't as good as yours, would you be so kind to explain it on a bio-chemistrical level? And then explain how molecules, which are detected in the nose can give an answer on how far it is away?

Well, I dont know if MY knowledge of olfaction is any better than yours but try this one out:

There is far more information processing on the visual responses from your retina then just the raw data of what comes in through your pupils. The brain uses a bit of trig and your stereoscopic vision to work out distances to objects as well as past experiences of shadows, textures and memory of any recognisable object's size to give you information about depth. This processing is all done AFTER the cones and rods have triggered as a result of light hitting them which would be the eye's equivalent to molecules of smell hitting your sensory neurons.

What I'm getting at is that a 'visual image' of locations of objects would be a result of data analysis done after you've gathered the data. For example, maybe you could have stereo-olfactic depth information similar to stereoscopic vision. It could hook into your visual cues, connecting remembered smells with visible objects. Hell, it might even be a kind of overlay over your vision with a big red x saying "I think it's coming from here"

Another option would be for the visual representation to just be a series of colours and shapes to identify the molecular structure of the smell because our brains are more highly developed for pattern recognition in visual data then any other sense.