Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Can I believe my eyes?

The world around me is beautiful. When I look around I see lush green meadows, clear blue sky, an assortment of flora and fauna, garish setting sun, azure depths of the ocean and I end up thanking my eyes for letting me see and enjoy this spectacular world around me, in all its glory. Eyes, in deed are a wonderful pair of sense organs. And I can’t do anything but end up philosophizing them.

Eyes, how many mega pixels are they?
Well, I am not talking about the latest digital cameras whose manufactures babble about the maximum resolution they can give. If we think about our eyes a bit more and refresh our high school biology lessons, the retina on which the eye-lens refracts light rays is made up of two kinds of photoreceptor cells called rods (enable black and white vision) and cones (enable color vision) which convert those light rays into electrical impulses, through an electrochemical reaction, which is processed by our brain to make us ‘see’. Roughly 125 million of them are intermingled non-uniformly over the retina, which means that the resolution of our eye is confined to the number of rods and cones we have, which is nothing but 125 Mega Pixels! Yes, if we had the ability to zoom images as we do using normal picture viewer software, after some limit, we will also see objects pixilated!

Do we see ‘everything’?
Humans can ‘see’ radiations of wavelength 390 to 780 nanometers (visible light) using his eye which form only a small part of the entire electromagnetic spectrum. We can’t see other radiations. We see an object when light rays fall on that object and the reflection is captured by our eyes. What if a particular object reflects only radiations of wavelength other than that of light? Duh! Then we won't be able to see that object. Thus there is a whole different world around us which we can’t see. A world that is quite different than what we can probably imagine of.

Does everyone see the same color?
Suppose a person sees a rose and identifies it as a red rose. Another person who is seeing the same rose is also identifying it as a red rose. But are we sure both the people identify it to have the same color? Ok let me explain it. Suppose a child who is seeing a yellow rose (color is yellow, called as yellow) ‘sees’ its color as a red. So for him that particular color would be yellow (which actually is red as seen by him) and is called as yellow. Which means, whenever he sees a yellow rose, even though he identifies it as a yellow rose having yellow color, actually he would be seeing it in red color. Physicians call it an extreme case of color blindness but I should say that people see the same object in different colors!

Can we believe our eyes?
Ultimately every single object in this universe is made up of atoms. An atom consists of a small nucleus at its centre and sub-atomic, wave-like particles called electrons spinning around it. The ratio of the sizes of a typical atom to its nucleus is about 100,000:1. For solids, this ratio comes down a bit; nevertheless, almost the same. But on an average, the nucleus forms a very small part of the whole atom. That is 99.99 percent of an atom doesn’t consist of anything. It is pure vacuum. Atoms form molecules and in turn form different objects we see around us. That means that when we see an object, say a pen, we are actually seeing something which is made up of particles which are 99.99 percent vacuum. Or we are seeing a pen which is actually 99.99 percent vacuum. Still we see it as a complete pen. Our eyes add the non existing 99.99 percent! And we believe our eyes for making us see something which is not there at all.

Thus there are a lot of limitations to the human eye. It doesn’t show us all the things, shows us something which is not there or shows us something which is 99.99 percent nothing, gives us a totally wrong picture of our surroundings. But still, in a way, all that is shown to us by our eyes are enough and more for us to exist; to enjoy and appreciate the wonders created by the nature. And we know how miserable the life of a blind is. Eyes are precious in deed. Nonetheless, for a subtle conclusion; next time when you see a friend of yours, just think out how he/she would look like in reality as compared to what ‘you’ see him/her using your eyes. Looks are deceptive, when you have eyes like this. :-))