Deep in the abyss… Do you feel wet?

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Does [a:] as in ‘baa’ sound greener or more red? And is [i:] as in ‘beet’ light or dark in color? Even though we perceive speech and color are perceived with different sensory organs, nearly everyone has an idea about what colors and vowels fit with each other. And a large number of us have a particular system for doing so. (1)

All senses are connected.

And at the end, they whisper the same thing…

Everything is One.

All interconnected.

So that there is no point in sensing anything no more…

Wet feet.

Don’t stand in the shore.

Dive deep.

And deep in the abyss.

You will not feel wet anymore…

Filling in memories…

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When looking at a picture of a sunny day at the beach, we can almost smell the scent of sun screen. Our brain often completes memories and automatically brings back to mind the different elements of the original experience. A new study now reveals the underlying mechanisms of this auto-complete function.

The researchers made an exciting discovery: During memory recall, neurons in the hippocampus fire strongly. Additionally, neurons in the entorhinal cortex began to fire in parallel to the hippocampus. According to one researcher “The act of remembering put neurons in a state that strongly resembles their activation during initial learning.” (1)

We know what we should see.

And we see it.

We know what we should smell.

And we smell it.

But we know nothing…

And yet…

What a lovely rose…

Dipped in the ocean of the moonlight.

Can you feel the breeze?

Isn’t it strange that you don’t miss the warmth of the sun?

Invisible table…

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Making objects invisible is no longer the stuff of fantasy but a fast-evolving science. ‘Invisibility cloaks’ using metamaterials now exist, and are beginning to be used to improve the performance of satellite antennas and sensors. Many of the proposed metamaterials, however, only work at limited wavelength ranges such as microwave frequencies.

Now, scientists report a way of making a cylinder invisible without a cloak for monochromatic illumination at optical frequency.

Scientists determined that invisibility would occur when the refractive index of the cylinder ranges from 2.7 to 3.8. Some useful natural materials fall within this range, such as silicon (Si), aluminum arsenide (AlAs) and germanium arsenide (GaAs), which are commonly used in semiconductor technology. By taking a close look at the magnetic field profiles, they inferred that “the invisibility stems from the cancellation of the dipoles generated in the cylinder.”

Although rigorous calculations of the scattering efficiency have so far only been possible for cylinders and spheres, Kajikawa notes there are plans to test other structures, but these would require much more computing power. (1)

A world full of things we see.

A world full of invisible things.

Right next to you, a table.

It is clearly there. Is it?

Deep inside yourself, you.

You do clearly exist, don’t you?

Extend your hand.

Funny.

When I touch this table,

it feels like it is touching me…

Listen. So that you touch…

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Our eyes, ears and skin are responsible for different senses. Moreover, our brain assigns these senses to different regions: the visual cortex, auditory cortex and somatosensory cortex. However, it is clear that there are anatomical connections between these different cortices such that brain activation to one sense can influence brain activation to another. A study by the laboratory of Associate Professor Shoji Komai at the Nara Institute of Science and Technology (NAIST), Japan, seen in PLOS ONE, explains how auditory stimulation of the barrel cortex influences responses to tactile stimulation in mice and rats. Komai considered the barrel cortex a good model to see how sound can affect the perception of touch.

“We think our senses are distinct, but there are many studies that show multisensory responses, mainly through audio-visual interactions or audio-tactile interactions,” explains Komai.

His group found that mouse and rat neurons in the barrel cortex were unresponsive to light, but that a strong majority responded to sound. These neurons showed electrical responses to sound that could be categorized as regular spiking or fast spiking. Further, the barrel cortex appeared to treat tactile and auditory stimuli separately. “These responses indicate that tactile and auditory information is processed in parallel in the barrel cortex,” says Komai.

Additional analysis showed that the electrophysiological properties of the responses were different, with sound causing longer postsynaptic potentials with long latency, almost priming the animal to sense touch. This would be like the shuddering one does when hearing a loud boom. According to Komai, this reaction would be an evolutionary advantage for nocturnal animals such as rats and mice.

“In a nocturnal environment, sound may act as an alarm to detect prey or predators. The combination of auditory and tactile cues may yield an effective response. It will be interesting to learn how the same system is advantageous in humans,” he says. (1)

Listening. Tasting. Seeing. Touching. Smelling.

Distinct senses and yet so interconnected.

Interlinked.

But don’t be too dazzled by the light.

It usually hides the deepest shadows.

Senses do not let us sense the world as it is.

They help us break that world apart.

Every path in the dark forest of perception is connected with the others. And there is no way to tread one of them without crossing the others. The more you walk, the deeper you enter the forest. The more you walk, the more everything seems more familiar. The deeper you enter the forest, the more difficult to see the forest.

Tracing back your steps.

At the time when you started walking.

Remember…

As you entered that first path…

Well before the path had a name…

Did you see any paths?

Listen…

Touching. You.

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Researchers found that gently stroking a baby seems to reduce activity in the infant brain associated with painful experiences. Their results suggest that lightly brushing an infant at a certain speed – of approximately 3 centimeters per second – could provide effective pain relief before clinically necessary medical procedures. (1)

Touch. The most cryptic of all senses.

A gentle touch can sooth pain. A loving touch can make the cosmos a tolerable place again. We seek touch. And we miss it when it is not there. When all other things are gone. touch is the only way we have to access what “is there” beside us.

We can imagine of any other sense missing, but not the sense of touch. A sense so fundamental not because it is a way to sense the cosmos, but because it is the only way for the cosmos to Be. In a cosmos where everything is interconnected, the sense of touch is equivalent to the notion of existence itself. 

You are not just touching that table.

You are allowing the table to touch you back.

Feel the cosmos around you. Touching everything. Which in turn touches everything else in return. At the end, that familiar sense of touch ends up back to the only thing existing, the only thing you can actually touch.

You…