And now for some news on “people becoming superhuman.” A small independent research group called Science for the Masses from Tehachapi, California has figured out how to give humans night vision, allowing them to see over 50 meters in the dark for a short time!
These researchers have described themselves as “Biohackers.” What is biohacking, you ask? Well, according to a PBS article, biohacking is a way of scientists and people to get together and explore the mysteries of biology—plant, animal and even human biology. That could mean figuring out how the DNA in plants affects their growth, or how to manipulate genes from another source to make plants glow in the dark.
Science for the Masses say that they have theorized a way to enhance healthy eyesight enough that it can induce night vision. They came up with this theory after studying a kind of chlorophyll analog called Chlorin e6 (or Ce6), which is found in some deep-sea fish and is used as an occasional method to treat night blindness. “Going off that research, we thought this would be something to move ahead with,” the lab’s medical officer, Jeffrey Tibbetts, told Mic.com.
The team used their biochemical researcher Gabriel Licina as a guinea pig, injecting a very low dose of Ce6 (about 50 microliters) into his eyes. “To me, it was a quick, greenish-black blur across my vision, and then it dissolved into my eyes,” Licina said. (Keep in mind, these guys did their research before experimenting on themselves with a potentially harmful biological agent. DO NOT just experiment on yourself without knowing all the variables beforehand!!)
Licina and his team went out into a dark field to test his new superpowers. And it actually worked: It started with shapes, hung about 10 meters away. But before long, they were able to do longer distances, recognizing symbols and identifying moving subjects against different backgrounds. “We had people go stand in the woods,” he says. “At 50 meters, we could figure out where they were, even if they were standing up against a tree.” Each time, Licina had a 100% success rate.
Biohacks like these are a perfect example of where science and biology can go, and something like providing temporary night vision could be used for more than just a really serious Halloween costume (We already have 3D printers for that!) Imagine search-and-rescue teams being able to see in the dark in forested areas or hostage situations in foreign countries.
“For us, it comes down to pursuing things that are doable but won’t be pursued by major corporations,” Tibbetts says. “There are rules to be followed and don’t go crazy, but science isn’t a mystical language that only a few elite people can speak.” And with the amount of information freely available, pursuing science can be more about curiosity than resources. We hope that you’re also curious about what science has in store for the future; it’s just waiting to be discovered!
photo credit: Mic.com