Synesthesia


  • Synesthesia comes from the Greek words syn and aesthesis, literally meaning together-perception. As commonly defined, people with synesthesia have mixed senses where one sense unconsciously triggers another. Some people can taste colors and feel words. However, the most important thing to remember is that everyone with synesthesia experiences it differently. No two people with synesthesia experience the same thing, even if they have the same form of synesthesia.
  • The most common form of synesthesia is associating letters and/or numbers with colors. For people without this, letters and numbers in black ink are just plain black. But for people with synesthesia, black letters and numbers are full of color. Patt Duffy explains learning to write: “I realized that to make an R all I had to do was first write a P and then draw a line down from its loop. And I was so surprised that I could turn a yellow letter into an orange letter just by adding a line." But other people with synesthesia will disagree with Patt’s colors because the associated colors are different for every person. When Valdimir Nabokov, a famous Russian novelist, was a toddler, the colored letters on his wooden blocks irritated him because they were the wrong colors. For him, “there is steely x, thundercloud z, and huckleberry k. . . . And today I have at last perfectly matched v with “Rose Quartz’ in Maerz and Puls’ Dictionary of Color.” Researchers often have people with synesthesia choose from hundreds of paint tiles to make a list of how they see the alphabet, but letters can change and be shaded differently depending on what letters surround them.
  • While certain drugs can trigger an experience like synesthesia, synesthesia is not caused by drugs. Brain imaging has shown that synesthesia is involuntary and cannot be reproduced by a person without synesthesia. Synesthesia also stays mainly consistent over time, and is thus hard to fake. Even though synesthesia is a real phenomenon, many people stay quiet as to not be perceived as weird or on drugs. In my experience, most of the people I have met with synesthesia (fairly mild forms) do not realize that it is unusual or do not realize that there is a name for what they have.
  • Another form of synesthesia is linking color and music. This led to disagreements between Liszt and Rachmaninov over what was the correct color for the key they were composing in. Liszt would say to the orchestra, “O please, gentlemen, a little bluer, if you please!” Duke Ellington, who is also recognized as having synesthesia, had his own thoughts on the subject: “If Harry Carney is playing, D is dark blue burlap. If Johnny Hodges is playing, G becomes light blue satin."
  • Synesthesia can also involve taste, such as James Wannerton and his dislike for the earwax tasting name “Derek.” One man with synesthesia tastes broccoli every time he hears his girlfriend's name. He doesn’t like broccoli. Richard “tastes like a chocolate bar-warm and melting on my tongue.” Spelling can also effect a word’s taste. For one woman, “‘Lori’ tastes like a pencil eraser, but ‘Laurie’ tastes lemony.”
  • For Michael, the senses are mixed a bit differently. He feels shapes on his face and hands in response to flavors and does not like to serve chicken that tastes round instead of pointy. Carol feels guitar music on her ankles, violins on her face and trumpets on the back of her neck. And MW can feel the word mint on his hand as a “cool glass column.”
  • Scientists do not know what causes synesthesia. Some theories are that synesthesia is a result of brain "cross talk," a genetic neural connection overabundance or "a reduced amount of inhibition along feedback pathways.” The most fascinating theory is that every one is born with synesthesia, but the brain grows out of it.
  • Synesthesia has its own share of mysteries. Synesthesia tends to run in families, but in some pairs of identical twins, only one has synesthesia. A small amount of people have lost their synesthesia at puberty. Roman numerals have no color to people with number-color synesthesia. There was also a colorblind man with synesthesia who could only see color when he looked at numbers.
  • Some of my favorite random synesthesia anecdotes: Getting nauseous from the sound of wind chimes. Not being able to eat ice-cream because the vendor’s words sounded like black cinders. Seeing 7 as a man with a mustache. Hearing “oh”’s and “ah”’s from a painting. Every word having a different physical movement, easily demonstrated by a body-pose. Tasting blueberries when seeing a skyline. Feeling acupuncture as layers of colors. Seeing December as a red area to one's left. Feeling a song as a square.
This is a bit of an unusual post because I haven't posted a source for every fact like I usually do. (I adapted this post from my research paper on this topic.) While these are not all of my sources, here are a few to prove I'm not fabricating information. If you have any questions, I will do my best to answer them. Source. Source. Source. Source.

Oh. And thank you to I Beati for this award. I will pass it on as soon as I am done hoarding it.

Thank you all


I know it has been awhile, but thank you all for being patient with me. I have now biked 500 miles and have legs with bruises, blisters and sunburns to prove it. I just wish I had legs of steel.

  • A 5.9 foot (1.8 meter) black-headed python was found inside a 10th floor toilet in a Darwin, Australia apartment. The animal was most likely a runaway pet. Reptile catcher Chris Peberdy said, "When I saw it I was pretty shocked. . . . There is no possible other way it could have got there than through the toilet. I had to give him a wash because he was wet and a bit smelly." Source
  • Raymundo Flores, a chef at the Brooklyn restaurant Junior's Restaurant was arrested for stealing lobster tails. He was hiding the tails in his pants and wrapped to his legs with bandages. Source
  • Seven young artist from Berlin are living in the Museum of Bat Yam near Tel Aviv with lice in their hair. They are wearing plastic shower caps to prevent spreading the lice to others. Twenty-three year old artist Vincent Grunwald describes it this way: "The idea is that we live in the museum as their guests, and at the same time we are hosting lice on our heads." Some criticize the exhibit and claim it is referencing the Holocaust, but the artists deny this. Source.
  • Federal Judge Eduardo Robreno fined HTFC CEO Aaron Wider and his lawyer Joseph R. Ziccardi $29,000 for inappropriate court behavior. Wider used 73 variations of the "F word" in 12 hours. When asked to open a specific file so questions could be asked about it, Wider responded, "I'm taking a break. F-k him. You open up the document. You want me to look at something, you get the document out. Earn your f-ing money, a-hole. Isn't the law wonderful?" Source
  • Familiar with Chuck Shepherd's News of the Weird? Here are some excerpts from his list on things that used to be weird, but are now too common for him to publish in his column: " an old, widely-advertised phone-sex number is reassigned to a church/charity . . .political candidate dies but still wins the election . . .family thinks he's dead, but he's not and attends his own funeral . . .shoots himself while supposedly demonstrating gun safety . . . gasoline thieves check quantity in tank by using a match or lighter to peer inside . . . local election ends in tie, settled (by law) by coin flip or draw of cards . . .bank robber hails taxi or municipal bus for getaway . . . criminal on the lam goes on national tv talk show and mentions that he's wanted . . .unlabeled urn with loved one's ashes mistakenly stolen or sold at yard sale . . .judges punish young people by forcing them to listen to [classical or polka or etc.] music . . .elderly citizen trying to convince bureaucrat that, contrary to records, he's not really dead . . .elderly motorist makes wrong turn, gets lost for days." Source

Sorry

My apologies to my readers. I have just got back from bicycling 285 miles and am leaving to bike 208 more. Or to put it another way, this will be the only post of the week. Thanks for sticking with me.

Some interesting and actual US Patents:
1.

Patent number: 6049912
Filing date: Dec 28, 1998
Issue date: Apr 18, 2000

This is a "tiara-like headband for use at parties" with phrases on thought and speech balloons.

2.
Patent number: 3552388
Filing date: Nov 7, 1968
Issue date: Jan 1971

Here is a machine that will pat "a baby to sleep by means of periodic pats upon the rump or hind part of the baby."

3.Patent number: 5823572
Filing date: Oct 8, 1996
Issue date: Oct 20, 1998

This memo pad is designed to be used as a self-defense weapon. It has "a plurality of pages. . . . a plurality of edges and an indentation in at last one of the edges adapted to accept at least part of at least one finger or the victim's hand."
4.
Patent number: 4834212
Filing date: Mar 30, 1987
Issue date: May 30, 1989

"There is a need in our complex society for a device which can be placed over the mouth and into which a person may yell or scream but which muffles the sound so others are not disturbed." It even measures the intensity of the user's sound.

5.
Patent number: 4764111
Filing date: Nov 21, 1985
Issue date: Aug 16, 1988

"In other words, in order to turn off the beeper inside his mouth, the patient must wear the headgear. The beeping sound inside the patient's mouth is intended to be sufficiently irritating and, perhaps, embarrassing, to cause the patient to prefer wearing the headgear over hearing a beeper inside his mouth."

6.
Patent number: 1466559
Filing date: Mar 29, 1921
Issue date: Aug 1923

"[B]y movements of the head, the device will receive a series of short jerks or impulses which will be transmitted to the teeth in order to produce a strain thereon, which strain serves to give the several organs of the mouth and head a proper exercise to maintain the necessary circulation therein."

7.
Patent number: 5901666
Filing date: Aug 25, 1997
Issue date: May 11, 1999

"A vest or belt is integrally formed with tubular, pet receiving passageways which extend around the wearer's body and terminate in pocket-like chambers for feeding and retrieval."

8.Patent number: 3234948
Filing date: May 12, 1964
Issue date: May 1964

This cigarette uses a cheese-filter with or without acid-washed charcoal. Preferable cheeses are Parmesan, Romano, and Swiss.
9.
Patent number: 883611
Filing date: Dec 16, 1907
Issue date: Mar 1908

When a rat is caught in this device, a collar with a bell is put on it and the rat is released. "The 'bell-rat' as it may be termed, then in seeking its burrow or colony announces his coming by the sounds emitted by the bells, thereby frightening the other rats an causing them to flee, thus practically exterminating them in a sure and economical manner. It may be added that the spring-band or collar is not liable to become accidentally lost or slip from the rat's neck because the adjacent hairs soon become interwoven with the convolutions of the spring to more firmly hold it in place"

Inspiration: Source. Source.

Herring, Einstein, Clinton, Poets and Numbers



  • Herrings break wind to communicate and help form nightly protective shoals. Ben Wilson, a marine biologist says, "We know [herring] have excellent hearing but little about what they actually use it for. . . . It turns out that herring make unusual farting sounds at night." The fish gulp air from the surface which they store in their swim bladders. The herring expel the air from an opening next to their anus and produce a high-pitched raspberry sound. Source.
  • Yoda's appearance is based on Albert Einstein. Source.
  • In his time as president, Bill Clinton only sent two e-mails. One was an e-mail to astronaut John Glenn aboard the space shuttle. The other was not really an e-mail, but a test to see if Clinton "knew how to push the button on an e-mail." His staff sent 39,999,998 e-mails. Source.
  • Dr Kaufman,an assistant professor of psychology at California State University, researched 1,987 deaths of writers. He found that, "[o]n average, poets lived 62 years, playwrights 63 years, novelists 66 years, and non-fiction writers lived 68 years. . . . [But} poets produce twice as much of their lifetime output in their 20s as novelists do." Source.
  • The Piraha of the Amazon only have tree words for numbers: one, two and many. Peter Gordon, the psychologist at Columbia University in New York City, tried the following experiment. ""Gordon . . . sat opposite an individual and laid out a random number of familiar objects, including batteries, sticks and nuts, in a row. The Pirahã were supposed to respond by laying out the same number of objects from their own pile.For one, two and three objects, members of the tribe consistently matched Gordon’s pile correctly. But for four and five and up to ten, they could only match it approximately, deviating more from the correct number as the row got longer. The Pirahã also failed to remember whether a box they had been shown seconds ago had four or five fish drawn on the top. When Gordon’s colleagues tapped on the floor three times, the Pirahã were able to imitate this precisely, but failed to mimic strings of four or five taps." Source.