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Think you have only 5 senses? You've actually got about 14 to 20.
Humans have way more than five senses, and if you include the animal kingdom there even more still.
We grow up thinking certain preconceived notions about our bodies. Probe a little deeper and you'll find not everything we were taught is true. Take our senses for example. Think you have only five?
Scientists say there are far more, but disagree on the exact number. Most of those familiar with the matter say there are between 14 and 20, depending on how you define a sense. Perhaps the simplest definition is: a sense is a channel through which your body can observe itself or the outside world.
You're familiar with the big five: vision, hearing, smell, touch, and taste. But have you ever heard of proprioception? If you close your eyes and lift a finger to your nose, you know exactly where it is, without seeing it. Proprioception is our ability to innately tell where our appendages, muscles, and other body parts are in space. You're able to place that finger on the tip of your nose in total darkness, thanks to this sense.
In a 2016 study, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, researchers discovered that those with a certain mutation in gene PIEZO2 had a poor sense of proprioception. The mutation caused weaker than normal mechanosensation in subjects, which is the ability to deliver sensations to the brain. Subjects with this mutation received weaker neuronal signals from their senses to their brains. As a result, they tended to be clumsy and less coordinated.
A good sense of equilibrioception allows humans to display incredible physical capabilities. Rio de Janeiro. Credit: Getty Images.
We don't only need to know where our body is in space, we need to keep it upright. For that we have equilibrioception, which is our sense of balance. This is accomplished with help from the vestibular system in the inner ear. As anyone who as a kid spun around and around on the front lawn knows, once your equilibrioception is thrown off you'll fall down and it'll take you a minute to get back up again.
The vestibular system also gives us the ability to feel velocity. Thanks to it, if you tilt your head left or right, your eyes are still able to focus on this page and read the words there. This is also why some people experience motion sickness. When the signals the brain is getting through sight and the vestibular system don't match, certain people feel queasy. Consider car sickness. When you're riding in a car and you're watching out the window, the scenery streaming by, your eyes send a signal to your brain indicating a rapid velocity. Your vestibular system on the other hand, indicates that your body is stationary. What's interesting is that rather than working in an isolated fashion, scientists find our senses work collaboratively, through a process called multisensory perception.
Scientists theorize that motion sickness is when signals from your eyes and the vestibular system are at odds in your brain. The Autobahn. Credit: Getty Images.
Ever thought about how you can tell whether it's hot or cold outside? This sense is known as thermoception. It turns out we detect outside temperature through thermoreceptors in our skin. This allows us to avoid things like getting burned or frostbitten and to avoid environments that are too hot or cold. Other senses include kinaesthesia, a sense of movement, and chronoception, sensing the passage of time.
If you think these are interesting there are some even more fascinating senses found outside of our species. For instance, there's electroception, which is the ability to sense electrical fields. Sharks use this to detect prey. Another is magnetoreception or the ability to detect magnetic fields. Bats use this to navigate. Stranger still, there are certain bird and insect species that sense and steer their flight by polarized light.
Even those senses we humans are familiar with aren't always so straightforward when you dig a little deeper. At least not for everyone. Consider synesthesia, a rare condition where a person experiences a blending of two senses. The most common variety is grapheme-color synesthesia, which is where each particular number or letter corresponds with a certain color or shade. A rare number of savants actually use this ability to make advancements in mathematics or music composition.
To learn more about the science behind our senses, click here:
Northwell Health is using insights from website traffic to forecast COVID-19 hospitalizations two weeks in the future.
- The machine-learning algorithm works by analyzing the online behavior of visitors to the Northwell Health website and comparing that data to future COVID-19 hospitalizations.
- The tool, which uses anonymized data, has so far predicted hospitalizations with an accuracy rate of 80 percent.
- Machine-learning tools are helping health-care professionals worldwide better constrain and treat COVID-19.
The value of forecasting<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTA0Njk2OC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyMzM2NDQzOH0.rid9regiDaKczCCKBsu7wrHkNQ64Vz_XcOEZIzAhzgM/img.jpg?width=980" id="2bb93" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="31345afbdf2bd408fd3e9f31520c445a" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="1546" data-height="1056" />
Northwell emergency departments use the dashboard to monitor in real time.
Credit: Northwell Health<p>One unique benefit of forecasting COVID-19 hospitalizations is that it allows health systems to better prepare, manage and allocate resources. For example, if the tool forecasted a surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations in two weeks, Northwell Health could begin:</p><ul><li>Making space for an influx of patients</li><li>Moving personal protective equipment to where it's most needed</li><li>Strategically allocating staff during the predicted surge</li><li>Increasing the number of tests offered to asymptomatic patients</li></ul><p>The health-care field is increasingly using machine learning. It's already helping doctors develop <a href="https://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/early/2020/06/09/dc19-1870" target="_blank">personalized care plans for diabetes patients</a>, improving cancer screening techniques, and enabling mental health professionals to better predict which patients are at <a href="https://healthitanalytics.com/news/ehr-data-fuels-accurate-predictive-analytics-for-suicide-risk" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">elevated risk of suicide</a>, to name a few applications.</p><p>Health systems around the world have already begun exploring how <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7315944/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">machine learning can help battle the pandemic</a>, including better COVID-19 screening, diagnosis, contact tracing, and drug and vaccine development.</p><p>Cruzen said these kinds of tools represent a shift in how health systems can tackle a wide variety of problems.</p><p>"Health care has always used the past to predict the future, but not in this mathematical way," Cruzen said. "I think [Northwell Health's new predictive tool] really is a great first example of how we should be attacking a lot of things as we go forward."</p>
Making machine-learning tools openly accessible<p>Northwell Health has made its predictive tool <a href="https://github.com/northwell-health/covid-web-data-predictor" target="_blank">available for free</a> to any health system that wishes to utilize it.</p><p>"COVID is everybody's problem, and I think developing tools that can be used to help others is sort of why people go into health care," Dr. Cruzen said. "It was really consistent with our mission."</p><p>Open collaboration is something the world's governments and health systems should be striving for during the pandemic, said Michael Dowling, Northwell Health's president and CEO.</p><p>"Whenever you develop anything and somebody else gets it, they improve it and they continue to make it better," Dowling said. "As a country, we lack data. I believe very, very strongly that we should have been and should be now working with other countries, including China, including the European Union, including England and others to figure out how to develop a health surveillance system so you can anticipate way in advance when these things are going to occur."</p><p>In all, Northwell Health has treated more than 112,000 COVID patients. During the pandemic, Dowling said he's seen an outpouring of goodwill, collaboration, and sacrifice from the community and the tens of thousands of staff who work across Northwell.</p><p>"COVID has changed our perspective on everything—and not just those of us in health care, because it has disrupted everybody's life," Dowling said. "It has demonstrated the value of community, how we help one another."</p>
A leading British space scientist thinks there is life under the ice sheets of Europa.
- A British scientist named Professor Monica Grady recently came out in support of extraterrestrial life on Europa.
- Europa, the sixth largest moon in the solar system, may have favorable conditions for life under its miles of ice.
- The moon is one of Jupiter's 79.
Neil deGrasse Tyson wants to go ice fishing on Europa<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="GLGsRX7e" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="f4790eb8f0515e036b24c4195299df28"> <div id="botr_GLGsRX7e_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/GLGsRX7e-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/GLGsRX7e-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/GLGsRX7e-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div>
Water Vapor Above Europa’s Surface Deteced for First Time<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9c4abc8473e1b89170cc8941beeb1f2d"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/WQ-E1lnSOzc?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
The Persian polymath and philosopher of the Islamic Golden Age teaches us about self-awareness.
Can computers do calculations in multiple universes? Scientists are working on it. Step into the world of quantum computing.
- While today's computers—referred to as classical computers—continue to become more and more powerful, there is a ceiling to their advancement due to the physical limits of the materials used to make them. Quantum computing allows physicists and researchers to exponentially increase computation power, harnessing potential parallel realities to do so.
- Quantum computer chips are astoundingly small, about the size of a fingernail. Scientists have to not only build the computer itself but also the ultra-protected environment in which they operate. Total isolation is required to eliminate vibrations and other external influences on synchronized atoms; if the atoms become 'decoherent' the quantum computer cannot function.
- "You need to create a very quiet, clean, cold environment for these chips to work in," says quantum computing expert Vern Brownell. The coldest temperature possible in physics is -273.15 degrees C. The rooms required for quantum computing are -273.14 degrees C, which is 150 times colder than outer space. It is complex and mind-boggling work, but the potential for computation that harnesses the power of parallel universes is worth the chase.