Naked Scientists Podcast

Naked Scientists episode

Sat, 11th Jul 2009

Here's Looking at You - the Science of Vision

Hawk eye (c) Steve Jurvetson

We seek the Science of Sight on this week's Naked Scientists, discovering how deep sea fish use clever bioluminescence and biological mirrors to cope with the darkness of the deep.  We hear how our brains choose what sights to pay attention to, and what a bees brain can teach us about how we see optical illusions.  Plus, salt-tolerant GM crops, statins stalled by sluggish blood and how the turtle got it's shell.  In Kitchen Science, we fool our eyes into seeing confusing colours...

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In this edition of Naked Scientists

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  • 18:58 - How could we make electric cars noisier?

    How annoying to make quiet cars louder! Couldn’t cars emit some kind of continuous signal that could be picked up by a device that could be held by a vision-impaired person and so, the proximity of the vehicle could then change the behaviour of that device?

  • 20:59 - Would the fungus-based anti-flea drug also kill mosquitoes?

    In your recent show, you discussed research into a synthesized neurotoxin based on compounds released by a fungus used to combat fleas and ticks on pets. One of the characteristics of the toxin mentioned was that it affected all insects, but had absolutely no effect on pets o...

  • 30:55 - Deep Sea Sight

    In the deep sea, where sunlight cannot reach, seeing is a particular challenge. We find out ways in which animals overcome this challenge, including one fish that does it with mirrors...

  • 37:15 - Paying Attention

    Information is constantly going into the brain, but how does it decide what to pay attention to and what to ignore? We find out what we know, and what we have left to learn, about this problem...

  • 51:02 - Is green for me the same as green for you?

    Is what I call green the same for the next person? In other words, is what I’m calling green grass really the same visual experience for me as it is for, say you?

  • 52:43 - What causes the Photic Sneeze Response?

    I was told that the reason we sneeze when looking at a bright light, is that the light causes our eyes to water, which drains into our noses via the tear ducts, which irritates the nose causing us to sneeze!

  • 53:38 - Ventilating an egg

    Eating a wonderful Thai chicken, I got curious about the development of the chicken within its egg. How does the oxygen come in and the CO2 go out?



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I am a Peace Corps volunteer from America living in Senegal, Africa. I wanted to let you know I love your shows. Right now I am catching up on the previous podcasts. In fact last week, while I was listening to your show, my energy efficient light bulb exploded in my room. There wasn't any noticeable change in the electrical current, what could have caused this? Sara Hollerich, Sun, 12th Jul 2009

John Langer asked the Naked Scientists: Hi Dr. Chris, Dr. Helen, Dr. Kat, et al., I love the show! I'm a researcher in drug discovery, mainly in cancer research, just outside of Washington DC, in Maryland. I stumbled upon the podcast while completing my Masters, and now I'm hooked. I podcast from the US...and speaking of which, I've got a few questions about that phenomenon...firstly, can you explain why the "Thatcherized" and inverted face (w/ the lips and eyes right side up) doesn't produce the same "oh my gosh, what am I looking at" type of response as the "Thatcherized" face? It's the same image, what does the inversion do, in terms of our perception of facial configuration, that makes it not so grotesque? Specifically, what do we/they/the naked scientists know about facial recognition that comes directly from the orientation of the eyes and they seem to be what make these images either grotesque or mundane. And, secondly, can you post the images of the "Thatcherized" Rhesus Macaques faces? I think they'd be absolutely hiiiilllllllarious for us to view, and it would be interesting to see if we spend as much time looking at the "Thatcherized" Rhesus face as the human one! Drs. Helen and Kat, your voices are so sultry! I'd love to hear you talking about non-science topics in a pub...or even discussing your favourite kitchen science debacles! Keep up the great show! Wish I were part of it... The very best regards, John What do you think? John Langer , Tue, 21st Jul 2009 RD, Tue, 21st Jul 2009

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