ByMark Newton, writer at
Movie Pilot Associate Editor. Email: [email protected]
Mark Newton

Your dream of becoming a superhuman has just become one step closer - although unfortunately you'll have to go through a medical procedure which probably isn't for the squeamish among you.

A group of 'biohackers' based in California, Science for the Masses (SfM) have attempted to create temporary night vision without the need for gadgets and gizmos. If they can develop the science further, it's not outside the realms of possibility that humans could soon be able to see in the dark. Basically, you can become Riddick in Pitch Black:

Ok, that comparison might not be the most accurate, but it does seem like the SfM experiment did draw interesting results.

The secret of night vision apparently depends on a compound called Chlorin e6 (Ce6), which is often found in some deep-sea fish. Although, the blackish solution has also been used to treat night blindness and even some forms of cancer, it has never been used on a human in an attempt to recreate night vision. That's where Jeffrey Tibbetts, SfM's medical officer, and biochemical researcher Gabriel Licina come in.

Licina agreed to the unenviable task of becoming Tibbett's guinea pig for the experiment. This involved Tibbett flushing clean Licina's eyes and then holding the eyelids open with a speculem. Tibbetts then used a pipette to drop 50 microliters of Ce6 - mixed with saline, insulin and dimethlysulfoxide (DMSO) - into his eyes, more specifically, the conjunctival sac. The DMSO was added to increase the permeability of the eye's cells, therefore allowing for quicker absorption. Regarding the sensation, Licina told Mic:

To me, it was a quick, greenish-black blur across my vision, and then it dissolved into my eyes.

Licina then waited for two hours - which were presumably quite tense considering he just squirted untested fish chemicals into his eyes - and was then led out into a darkened field to test out his new found night vision.

Initially, Linica could make out hand-sized objects about 10 meters (33 feet) away, but it wasn't before long that his night vision began to improve. Soon he was able to recognize symbols (such as letters and numbers) and moving objects at much longer distances.

The main part of the experiment concerned Licina attempting to locate individuals hidden among a grove of trees. In one test, he was able to identify them at a range of 50 meters with a laser pointer. He aced the test, locating every single target, even when they were hidden against a tree. The control group, on the other hand, were only successful about a third of the time.

Unfortunately - or perhaps fortunately depending on your perspective - Licina's eyesight returned to normal the next day and he has so far not experienced any negative effects.

Although this is still the very early stages, if Ce6 is shown to be effective and not harmful, it could potentially have a lot of interesting applications - especially for individuals who often work in difficult environments. You can read about the full experiment in SfM's completed report.

Source: IFLScience


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