PetaPixel

Dietary Experiment Claims to Successfully Extend Human Vision Into Near Infrared

Update: Since we published this, a reader and retinal neuroscientist wrote up a rebuttal, explaining why this couldn’t possibly work in humans. Click here to read his full explanation.


eyeiris

Mind = Blown. A camera sensor might fall short of the human eye in a lot of respects, but one area where it exceeds it is infrared. The sensor can see it (sometimes with a little bit of help), but humans can’t… or can they?

A crowd-funded experiment maintains that they can, given a little bit of dietary help. And they just got their first positive results, successfully extending human vision to 950nm!

The experiment was created by Science for the Masses, who describe themselves as, ” a group of research minded individuals from a variety of backgrounds interested in exploring non-institutional open source science,” and the project reached full funding in October of last year on the scientific crowdfunding site Experiment.

Screen Shot 2014-08-23 at 1.09.53 PM

This particular project raised just over $4,000 in order to test the theory that, by limiting Vitamin A1 in the diet and supplementing it with A2, you could increase human production and use of something called porphyropsin — the protein complex that grants near infrared (NIR) vision to freshwater fish — and thus grant humans completely natural NIR vision.

They believed the answer to the question was yes, and based on their initial results posted three days ago, they were right! In the electroretinogram (ERG) results below, notice the spikes at 950nm:

charts

For those of you who don’t keep this kind of information handy, NIR falls between about 800nm to 2500nm on the electromagnetic spectrum. According to the update, they were already getting flashes at 850nm before the dietary shifts, but the flashes at 950 are completely new and very exciting results.

You can get into the details about the experiment here, and read more about the results over on the official update, but if the data continues to move in this direction, it’s quite possible their test subjects will begin seeing further and further into the NIR spectrum as time goes on.

So… care to upgrade your eyes with a bit of NIR capability? Cause there’s a diet for that…

(via Image Sensors World)


Image credits: Eye iris by Petr Novák, Wikipedia


 
  • OtterMatt

    Huh. That’s actually really cool. I dunno how it would be useful practically, but it’s certainly pretty amazing.

  • MichaelMJames

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    ====================================

  • http://chrisvallephoto.com /CVP

    I learned about this in college, and the Prof said the that the military had explored it, with similar results, but found that there was a medical/physiological downside that precluded long-term use of the high doses required to produce a measurable effect.

  • Luís Antunes

    One good thing, with proper glasses to filter out all the other light spectrum, is getting everyone naked at the beach :)

  • DrVan

    I’m assuming NIR stands for near infrared? It’s not explained in the article at all (not even mentioned in the body). This is terrible reporting. Does petapixel even have editors?

  • Rob Elliott

    I can see Special Forces getting use out of it.

  • https://www.flickr.com/photos/trevor-dennis/ Trevor Dennis

    It would round this story off very nicely if Vitamin A2 came from eating carrots ;-)

  • Lambert Schlumpf

    I hate the use of acronyms (which are totally unknown in my mother tongue) because most of the time they make you waste time rather than saving ink. Hey, who’s gonna print an article anyway?

  • alexcookemusic

    The article makes no mention of the methodology, the sample size, the control group… nothing that legitimizes this as science. If you want to do research independently, that’s great, but there’s a reason large independent scientific firms still follow a certain protocol.

  • Matteo

    They lack a negative control. They are not scientifically proving what they claim. What’s on the y? What’s the baseline for a normal fed individual?

  • Alan Klughammer

    I agree with others, this is very questionable science. Especially the part implying that further diet will enhance this further.

  • brendawbov

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    ……………

    ============================== ——-

  • Rob Elliott

    that is why they are running trails for which they are in early stages of.

    I’m sure if they find tangible evidence, or testable evidence other studies in this field will be had.

  • Rob Elliott

    Are you a backer? have you read the brief? From what is known publicly they have 4 subjects a control and three on the diet.

    I don’t know the methodology and you may very well be right, but they do have some form of control.

    I think if they have success then it may spark other experiments in other labs. I’d be really surprised if DARPA didn’t get involved if the subjects started having improved NIR vision particularly if it helped night vision without the aid of goggles.

    From what I’ve seen this seems to be a more a proof of concept study then anything.

  • http://www.defivestudios.com/ Valter Von D

    I just want a nice shine job.

    I mean really just kill a few people get thrown in a slam where they’ll tell you you’ll never see daylight again and dig up a doc, pay him 20 menthol kools to do a surgical shine job on your eyeballs so you can see who’s sneaking up on you in the dark.

  • http://www.defivestudios.com/ Valter Van D

    I just want a nice shine job.

    I mean really just kill a few people get thrown in a slam where they’ll tell you you’ll never see daylight again and dig up a doc, pay him 20 menthol kools to do a surgical shine job on your eyeballs so you can see who’s sneaking up on you in the dark.

  • jrconner

    Rather dangerous, I think. Safer to stick to night vision technology.

  • D.G. Brown

    I’ve always wanted to see IR, but I imagine that trying to use it in practice would be headache-inducing at minimum. The problem is that fringe colors are much hard to focus on and result in a lot of squinting (violet/blue LED Christmas lights are right on the edge of my vision and those things give me quite the headache).

  • D.G. Brown

    Technically you can already do this, at least the filtering part, with some success. Just make sure that your filters also block UV light (not just visible) or else you can do serious damage to your eyes.

    However, the x-ray effect of IR light is mostly a myth :-P

  • Fullstop

    What trails are they running on to get to the early stage?

  • ksporry

    When did anyone ever use proper editing on the internet…?

  • ksporry

    they refer to the official website of the people who conducted the experiment. Rather than complaining about lack of information, read the article properly, and click the link to the experiment.

  • Matteo

    Yeah but they should show the data. You cannot just show what you want to show. With this figure nothing can be concluded because, as said, the basal level of “IR sensibility” of a control individual is missing. The profile might be the same as the one they’re showing here for people under dietary control.

  • Oskarkar

    This is going to make all the clothes transparent. What a nightmare for men!

  • nancysvalenzuela

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    ==================================

  • catlett

    Try doing some research before you write an article. Digital sensors capture infrared very well. So well that the manufacturers use an extra filter to filter IR out . lifepixel.Com makes an entire business from this.

  • Rob Elliott

    well this is a preliminary result, from the early stages of testing, which they shared on the project page. This wasn’t a press release… PetaPixel shouldn’t have carried the story or should have done a better job of explaining it.

    It isn’t any where near a final conclusion. In week 4 their entire group of test subjects (while they were burning A1 out of the system and A2 fat stores) had a very difficult time seeing colour differences. Even the control, which may have been a test anomaly (clearly it was) from an equipment malfunction, or environmental factors. This could turn out to be the same thing.

    (I got bored and read the public research in the link provided)

    This is only 2 weeks in. I wish Petapixel would have been more clear about that.

  • alexcookemusic

    That’s exactly what I did. I read the “official update,” the experiment overview and all the other updates. The only thing remotely related to properly describing the methodology is an update that seems to imply there were four initial participants, but one dropped out. You can’t even begin to approximate a normal distribution until n=30. Thanks for the lecture, though.

  • Rob Elliott

    I’m not a backer, I just read the information publicly available on their project pages, which is where this “story” is lifted from.

    The spent several months limiting A1 through diet and trying to lower body fat content to burn any A2 stored in fat in 3 subjects (a 4th dropped out) and the control which I’m assuming (not all info is public) was on a normal diet.

    In the last few weeks the subjects have started to take A2, and this seems to be the first positive result from a single test subject, that was shared just out of excitement, this isn’t a conclusion about the whole project. It is mealy a Lab Note of excitement over the first positive result.

  • Future is Now

    You’re absolutely right. This project may be promising but the evidence is very gauzy.

  • Matt Murphy

    I’m very surprised PetaPixel thinks NIR means night vision and seeing heat signatures. That is not NIR, at all. Anyone that does NIR photography knows that it is pretty much impossible to successfully shoot at night, because NIR is still light, and if there is less visible light there is way less IR light. This applies to using both an attachable IR filter, and also having a camera with its internal filters removed for shooting IR.

    Also, since this is NIR, and not absolute IR, I can’t think of any benefits of having this ability if my eyes still picked up other wavelengths of the light spectrum.

  • OtterMatt

    Night vision and IR are not the same thing. Maybe it could do something if they’re going to carry big-ass IR flashlights around with them, but if all it takes is a simple diet, that one seems like a pretty easy thing to counter. Just feed your scouts more vitamins and SF can’t sneak up on you anymore.

  • OtterMatt

    I find that easy to believe. Tampering with the human code can yield some profound results, but we’re all pretty much wired at our most stable by default. There’s a cost to everything.

  • Rob Elliott

    you are right shot of a IR flash light it wouldn’t help… not what I meant though. There are several other potential uses.

  • Larthan Delaponte

    “… the protein complex that grants near infrared (NIR) vision…”
    Unless that wasn’t there yesterday, then.. yeah.

  • OtterMatt

    Ah. Fair enough then. Carry on.

  • Samuel Ashdown

    Where did anyone compare NIR to thermal in that article? its well written and a decent descriptor of something pretty complex. Stop pissing in peoples cornflakes

  • Samuel Ashdown

    Given Vit-A’s tendency to store in fat for a great deal of time and accumulate i would be worried about toxicity if this was continued for any great time. Also acute vitamin a toxicity is particularly nasty, because it takes months to deplete. I’m not on board fro trading – irritability, vomiting, blurry vision, headaches, hair loss, muscle and abdominal pain and weakness, drowsiness, and altered mental status in exchange for slightly altered vision. Theres better drugs to do that.

  • Pete Woods

    I can’t say how many times I had to look up the definition of a certain acronym. Isn’t it proper grammar to define the acronym upon first use? e.g. “near infrared (NIR)”. Indeed according to WiKi NIR does stand for near infrared.

  • kurt9

    DIY medicine in action!

  • Terenc Blakely

    I heard that cold fusion was the cat’s meow.

  • David Govett

    Useful in combat

  • innovatology

    Is it April 1st already?

  • Russel aka ‘Rusty’ Shackleford

    Queensryche predicted this!

  • http://thevailspot.blogspot.com/ Rich Vail

    Perhaps if you contact the researchers directly…just a thought there…most scientist, who aren’t connected with proving global warming, will actually help others to match their results, and thus prove their thesis…as reproducibility of an experiment by others is the only way to actually prove a thesis. Of course climatologist closely guard their data, but these guys might help you…

  • http://www.defivestudios.com/ Valter Van D

    I can see a guest just copied and pasted my comment again, I assure you, mine was first :)