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Human eyes possess an extra 'hidden sense'


Posted on Thursday, 2 July, 2015 | Comment icon 24 comments

The human eye can pick up more than most people realize. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 Laitr Keiows
Scientists have revealed that our eyes possess an ability that most people aren't even aware of.
A new study has revealed that the human eye is capable of seeing polarized light, an ability that is more traditionally associated with vision in animals such as bees, ants and fish.

Scientists now believe that this 'hidden sense' would have proven extremely valuable to our distant ancestors as a navigational aid and could in the future make it easier for doctors to screen people for signs of age-related macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness.

"Generally, light is a mixture of polarizations, but sometimes - for example in parts of the sky, on your computer screen and in reflections from water or glass - a large percentage of the waves are oscillating in the same orientation and the light is strongly polarized," said Dr Shelby Temple.

One way to see polarized light is to look for what is known as "Haidinger's brushes", a short-lived visual effect that resembles yellow and blue bow-tie shapes that quickly fade after a few seconds.

"You can see Haidinger's brushes if you look at a blank white portion of an LCD screen on a computer, tablet or phone," said Dr Temple.

"Tilt your head from side to side and faint yellow brushes should become visible."

Tests carried out on volunteers found that the average polarization sensitivity threshold was 56%.

"As 2015 is the Unesco International Year of Light, we are delighted to have been able to use 21st-century technology to gain new insight into an effect that has interested and entertained scientists for more than 160 years," said co-author Dr Juliette McGregor.

Source: Yahoo! News | Comments (24)

Tags: Eye, Light, Vision

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #15 Posted by pallidin on 3 July, 2015, 5:10
I see something, but it doesn't look like brushes to me. Then again after cataract surgery the whole world looked different. I'm able to see further down into the UV region than before. Well, "brushes" meaning that it's not a distinct "line" What I see is a yellow "wash", angled and somewhat convoluted... very "brush-like" Edit: In my case, no more than a 1-inch wide, 1-inch curve of "brushing" yellow. Then it stops. Kind-of "feathering"
Comment icon #16 Posted by pallidin on 3 July, 2015, 5:20
It appears not to be optically retentive... it seems to go away very quickly.
Comment icon #17 Posted by pallidin on 3 July, 2015, 5:25
What this effect is supposed to mean (other than the suggestion in the article) I have no idea as to it's "meaning" in today's world. Interesting, though.
Comment icon #18 Posted by Susanc241 on 3 July, 2015, 8:13
BooHoo, I can't get my eyes to see anything remotely resembling the deion in the OP, except maybe a vague area a bit darker (on the yellowish side, I must admit) in the centre of my vision when I move my head side to side. Nothing I would ever notice unless looking for it - but is this it?
Comment icon #19 Posted by pallidin on 3 July, 2015, 15:58
BooHoo, I can't get my eyes to see anything remotely resembling the deion in the OP, except maybe a vague area a bit darker (on the yellowish side, I must admit) in the centre of my vision when I move my head side to side. Nothing I would ever notice unless looking for it - but is this it? That would be it. It's faint and goes away somewhat quickly it seems(to me)
Comment icon #20 Posted by pallidin on 3 July, 2015, 16:38
Does any one know why, say, I see only yellow and not blue? Does that mean something (That I'm not also seeing the blue), such as a propensity for eye problems or whatever? Or is that aspect "natural" and mean nothing.
Comment icon #21 Posted by Ashyne on 4 July, 2015, 1:26
I can't even see any of these Haidinger Brushes.
Comment icon #22 Posted by pallidin on 4 July, 2015, 6:05
I can't even see any of these Haidinger Brushes. Are you tilting and moving your head at the same time, while looking at a white LCD screen(not CRT)? The head tilting and motion should be like your head moving in a curve... not just to the side.
Comment icon #23 Posted by nothinglizx2 on 6 July, 2015, 4:41
if you stare at an object, say at a metal light pole during the day, look about an inch away from the pole and you can see light reflecting off of the pole.
Comment icon #24 Posted by pallidin on 6 July, 2015, 16:30
if you stare at an object, say at a metal light pole during the day, look about an inch away from the pole and you can see light reflecting off of the pole. Peripheral vision? Or are you referring to something else?


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