Expanding our Perceptions

We live in an amazing world of limited perceptions, viewing our world with sense organs and a nervous system that are equipped to perceive and understand only a small middle range of sizes, moving at a middle range of speeds. Outside this range even our imagination is handicapped, and we need the help of instruments and mathematics. This tiny comfortable range of sizes, distances or speed is set in the midst of a gigantic range of the possible, from the scale of quantum strangeness at the smaller end to the scale of cosmology at the larger.

We call light, visible light because it is the narrow band of wavelengths we can perceive but wavelengths stretch much further than humans can detect. radio waves, micro waves, infrared, ultraviolet, x-rays and gamma rays are all undetectable to us but some so called invisible wavelengths are essential to many animal species, some insects see flowers in amazing ultraviolet and some birds use ultraviolet for hunting and breeding, some snakes and vampire bats locate prey using in infrared, even the sounds we hear or more correctly the mechanical wave of pressure or displacement through either air or water is a fraction of the range of ultrasonic frequencies that are picked up by other species of animals, dolphins and again bates use ultrasonic eco location to navigate and hunt and elephants and whales use ultrasound to communicate to name but a few. Our olfactory perception or sense of smell detects a fraction of what’s on offer (probably just as well) some animals are many thousand times more sensitive to this strange world of complex messages and signals lingering long after the messenger has moved on.

We have science to thank for drawing our attention to these wonders some beyond our wildest imagination, this ever expanding perception of our world and universe around us certainly is more than we can perceive unaided. What a wonderful time to be alive!