Definitely falling under the categories of “weirdest stuff we never thought we’d see” and “definitely not for the squeamish,” a team of biohackers in California claims to have given a man the veritable superpower of night vision. Science for the Masses, a group based in Tehachapi, California, achieved the feat by using a small turkey-baster-like device, a form of chlorophyll found in some deep-sea fish, and one exceptionally courageous biochemist.
Science for the Masses theorized that in low doses Chlorin e6 (or Ce6)—which is found in some deep-sea fish and is occasionally used to treat night blindness—could induce short-term night vision in those with healthy eyesight. And so, biochem researcher and Science for the Masses member Gabriel Licina stepped up as guinea pig. Working in what ostensibly appears to be a garage, the team set about doing their first controlled experiment.
According to Science.Mic “With what’s basically a really fine turkey baster, [lab medical officer, Jeffrey] Tibbetts slowly dripped 50 microliters of Ce6, an extremely low dose, into Licina’s speculum-stretched eyes, aiming for the conjunctival sac, which carried the chemical to the retina.” What Licina experienced was “a quick, greenish-black blur across my vision” before the Ce6 was absorbed into his eyes.
As the Ce6 took effect, Licina had protective contact lenses in his eyes to shield him from some of the light as his eyes became more sensitive, and pretty soon he had to add sunglasses to the mix in order to remain comfortable with regular indoor lighting.
After about an hour, the full effects of the Ce6 kicked in and the team prepared to do some control tests in a dark field—of course. At a distance of about 50 meters Licina as well as three researchers who had not undergone the procedure conducted three different subjective tests. “These consisted of symbol recognition by distance, symbol recognition on varying background colors at a static distance, and the ability to identify moving subjects in a varied background at varied distances,” as Tibbetts writes in the report.
Licina was able to identify the objects and symbols 100 percent of the time, while his regular-sighted counterparts had about a 33 percent success rate. The team intends to follow up on this initial test with some more rigorous tests to yield more solid data.
To learn more about Science for the Masses’ process, check out their open source paper.
Images via Science for the Masses