Get Alien Vision And See New Colors!

One aspect of science fiction that I particularly treasure is the ability to imagine what it would be like to be an intelligent non-human alien. SF writers are free to imagine different capabilities; for example, what would it be like to see more colors?

Consider this conversation between an alien (male) from Vega and a human woman:

"...Let me take that flower from your hair. There. What do you see?"

"A pretty white flower. That's why I picked it and put it in my hair."

"But it is not a pretty white flower. Not to me, anyhow. Your eyes perceive light with wavelengths between about 4000 and 7200 angstrom units. The eyes of a Vegan look deeper into the ultraviolet, for one thing, down to around 3000. We are blind to what you refer to as "red", but on this 'white' flower I see two colors for which there are no words in your language. My body is covered with patterns you cannot see, but they are close enough to those of others in my family so that another Vegan, familiar with the Shtigogens could tell my family and provenance on our first meeting....
(From Roger Zelazny's 1966 novel This Immortal)

Take a look at this fascinating TED talk that describes the journey of artist Neil Harbisson, who was born entirely color blind. Thanks to a remarkable piece of bespoke technology, he learned to perceive colors. And much more.


(Neil Harbisson, an artist who hears colors)

"Eventually, I was able to differentiate 360 different colors, just like human vision. I was able to differentiate all of the degrees of the color wheel.

"But then, I thought that this human vision just wasn't good enough. There are many more colors around us that we cannot perceive, but which electronic eyes can perceive.

"So I decided to continue extending my color sense, and I added infrared and ultraviolet to the color-to-sound scale. So now I can hear colors that the human eye cannot perceive. For example, perceiving infrared is good because you can hear ... movement detectors in a room ... I can hear if someone points at me with a remote control. The good thing about perceiving ultraviolet is that you can hear if it is a good day or a bad day to sunbathe...

"I think we should all have this wish to perceive things that we cannot perceive..."

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 3/22/2014)

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