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Medicine Idle

You, Too, Can Learn Echolocation 133

The Narrative Fallacy writes "Wired reports that with just a few weeks of training, you can learn to 'see' objects in the dark using echolocation the same way dolphins and bats do. Acoustic expert Juan Antonio Martinez at the University of Alcalá de Henares in Spain has developed a system to teach people how to use echolocation, a skill that could be particularly useful for the blind and for people who work under dark or smoky conditions, like firefighters — or cat burglars. 'Two hours per day for a couple of weeks are enough to distinguish whether you have an object in front of you,' says Martinez. 'Within another couple weeks you can tell the difference between trees and pavement.' To master the art of echolocation, you can begin by making the typical 'sh' sound used to make someone be quiet. Moving a pen in front of the mouth can be noticed right away similar to the phenomenon when traveling in a car with the windows down, which makes it possible to 'hear' gaps in the verge of the road. The next level is to learn how to master 'palate clicks,' special clicks with your tongue and palate that are better than other sounds because they can be made in a uniform way, work at a lower intensity, and don't get drowned out by ambient noise. With the palate click you can learn to recognize slight changes in the way the clicks sound depending on what objects are nearby. 'For all of us in general, this would be a new way of perceiving the world,' says Martinez."
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You, Too, Can Learn Echolocation

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  • Re:Dubious (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 04, 2009 @09:24PM (#28583769)

    I'm saddened by your narrow world-view. You honestly do not think it's possible to fine-tune your brain to automatically discern variances in reflected sounds, in much the same way that it has been doing it for thousands of years?

    I thought this 'story' was sensationalist as it was kind of obvious to me. Thus I was very surprised to find your post.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 04, 2009 @09:43PM (#28583817)

    This would be utterly useless for firefighters as they all wear SCBA which requires a full face mask. Further more your ability to hear those clicks are again reduced by gear over your ears, radio chatter and the often very dense smoke around you soaks up large volumes of noise.

    This would take serious adaptation to make it even remotely feasible for someone in that scenario. If you're on a hose crew you can just outright forget it all together.

  • by wagnerrp ( 1305589 ) on Saturday July 04, 2009 @10:16PM (#28583941)

    But repeatedly snapping my fingers around my head while stepping forward allowed me to appreciate the changes in acoustics well enough to know where walls and other large objects were. On the other hand, it's not quite good enough to avoid stepping on toys left out by my two year old.

    Normally one would just turn on the lights, as it's less likely to wake the two year old than incessant clicking or snapping of fingers.

  • Re:Dubious (Score:3, Insightful)

    by JWSmythe ( 446288 ) <> on Sunday July 05, 2009 @03:39AM (#28584985) Homepage Journal

        I've seen documentaries on Big Foot, the Loch Ness Monster, and UFO's. Does that mean I should believe all the crap that's spewed about them? If they are real, there has been so many bogus accounts put out there, you'd never know when the truth was presented.

        And yes, that was el Chupacabra that you saw outside your window last night. Beware! It's going to eat your goat, and then eat your SOUL! :)


  • Re:No duh (Score:2, Insightful)

    by V!NCENT ( 1105021 ) on Sunday July 05, 2009 @05:57AM (#28585411)

    Can one hug an activity?

    I know my responce is a little bit too serious, but for the love of everything that's holy; the internet is not a place (I read it on the internet), but it's a medium!

    That way we can shut those dead-tree-media (news papers) readers up. "Nah, you just read it on the internet so it's not true." -"Your newspaper is 'on' the internet too, so than your newspaper is wrong too? The internet is a medium, just like that collection of dead trees and ink you'r holding right now".

  • Re:No duh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lordsid ( 629982 ) on Sunday July 05, 2009 @06:09AM (#28585439)
    It's not really important that its new or not. Everyone bemoaning this article so far has done so because they "heard" of a few people doing it. Well that really doesn't help the masses. To do that you need a way to reproduce the technique for other people who could use to learn it. The point is they developed a system to TEACH it, not just the method of echolocation itself.

The party adjourned to a hot tub, yes. Fully clothed, I might add. -- IBM employee, testifying in California State Supreme Court