Is there more than our five senses are telling us?
Or are we missing something?
We are of course all familiar with the fact that we possess five senses. We can detect by touch, taste, sight, smell and sound. Thats it, there isn't any other way for us to detect the environment around us. Evolution has decreed that we can get by with these five. Well, yes we can, but it would improve our survival chances if we had more.
Suppose for example we were able to detect when we were in a deadly radiation field, I think that would be quite handy, a sense that enabled us to detect radiation. I'm not talking about detecting it with the senses that we have, such as being able to see radiation for example, but a new sense organ that would require a new description of how it detected.
It's difficult, if not impossible, to imagine a new sense, we can only think only in the terms of the five we have, but try a new way of looking at things. Try to imagine that we had another organ for detection, and in the same way that we have eyes for sight, this new organ detects something that we were previously completely unaware of.
NGC 414 As imaged by Hubble ( but is there more?)
Try and imagine that we could detect the presence of a completely silent and odourless ambient temperature remote object in a dark room. With our usual five senses we couldn't, but with our new one we can. No, not by echo location such as a bat would use, thats just using sound and hearing, but a completly new method. We can detect it because its there. I'm not even talking about getting a picture of it in our heads by whatever means, this is different, a new awareness. We just know its there. This is a bit like attempting to explain colour to someone who was born sightless, but I'm sure you follow the idea.
I am going to digress here for a minute, but please bear with me, I am trying to make a point. Years ago I read this in a novel, so its not my idea. It was a pleasant summer's evening and I decided to do what I had just read. I went out into the countryside as the evening sky was darkening and laid down on my back on the grass looking up at the emerging stars. My feet were pointing towards the east. I picked out a bright star near the horizon that I could see through the branches of a nearby tree. I spread-eagled my arms and legs and gripped the ground with both hands as if I was holding onto the surface of a giant beachball and didn't want to fall off. I watched that star as it moved upwards through the branches of the tree. Now the important part. I imagined that the star was stationery and that it was the giant beach ball that I was holding onto that was rolling forward. The effect was amazing. It made me feel quite giddy, but all I was doing was experiencing things as they really are, the sky does not revolve around us, it is us that is revolving. Knowing it and being aware of it are two different things. It was the first time I had actually felt the sensation that the world was turning.
Why did I tell you this? because it illustrates the way we accept things, the way we come to look at things without so much as a second thought. Sometimes it is a good idea to look at things differently.
There is a popular misconception among some sighted people that when a person who was born blind feels an object they build up a picture of what it looks like. This isn't the case, they build up a plan of what it feels like, they are unable to mentally create a picture, they have never experienced pictures. If a blind person became sighted they would be totally unable to recognise a ball by looking at it for the first time, they would have to feel it first in order to recognise it, because they have no mental pictures with which to recognise it by sight. If you have a problem with that, imagine instead that you were born without the sense of smell. Would you be able to imagine the scent of a rose by touching it? That should make it clearer. A person born without one of the senses can have absolutely no conception whatsoever of what that missing sense is all about by simply using the other senses that they do possess. See What is reality?
So armed with a new sense, a new window on the universe, what would we 'see' that we don't see now? What things are we missing? What secrets would we uncover? It would be like giving sight to a blind man which opens up a whole new world. Even with artificial help we could never see into this 'invisible' world, we just see more than we could with our unaided senses. A machine can not present images to a blind man nor sound to one who is deaf.
Are there things going on that we are completly unaware of?
What do I think?
I think there is. I don't know why, I just do. I have often wondered why it is that we have five senses, not six , not seven, but five. Don't you sometimes feel that you're wearing blinkers? Maybe it's just me. What do you think?
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