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Echolocation, How To See With Your Ears

Ever heard (no pun intended) of echolocation? It's the ability of some animals, most famously dolphins and bats, to emit sound waves to determine the location and size of objects around them, which helps them "see." Scientists have long known that some blind humans shared this skill and were able to also emit clicking sounds to "see" with their ears. But a recent study published in Psychological Science confirmed just how powerful human echolocation is — ironically, by showing how those who use it fall prey to the same "size-weight illusion" as people who can see.

Gavin Buckingham, a psychological scientist at Edinburgh's Heriot-Watt University, conducted an experiment with the cooperation of six blind people, three of whom could use echolocation and three who could not, and four sighted people. They were presented with three boxes of different sizes but of similar weight. While blind non-echolocators correctly found that the three boxes weighed the same, sighted people and echolocators thought that the bigger boxes weighed more than the smaller ones, a phenomenon known as the Charpentier illusion.

Echolocators "also got it wrong," a delighted Gavin Buckingham told Le Monde. "Though they were not as bad as the sighted people, because their perception is more precise and blind people can generally better appreciate the weight of objects. But the difference between those can echolocate and those who can't is still an important one. Echolocation is indeed an alternative vision that is built and capable of influencing other senses," he explained.

See how echolocation works with Daniel Kish, president of the non-profit organization World Access for the Blind whose nickname is "the real life batman."

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Geopolitics

How A Drone Strike Inside Iran Exposes The Regime's Vulnerability — On All Fronts

It is still not clear what was the exact target of an attack by three armed drones Saturday night on an arms factory in central Iran. But it comes as Tehran authorities appear increasingly vulnerable to both its foreign and domestic enemies, with more attacks increasingly likely.

Screenshot of one of the Saturday drone attacks arms factory in Isfahan, central Iran

One of the Saturday drone attacks arms factory in Isfahan, central Iran

Screenshot
Pierre Haski

-Analysis-

PARIS — It's the kind of incident that momentarily reveals the shadow wars that are part of the Middle East. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack by three armed drones Saturday night on an arms factory complex north of Isfahan in central Iran.

But the explosion was so strong that it set off a small earthquake. Iranian authorities have played down the damage, as we might expect, and claim to have shot down the drones.

Nevertheless, three armed drones reaching the center of Iran, buzzing right up to weapons factories, is anything but ordinary in light of recent events. Iran is at the crossroads of several crises: from the war in Ukraine where it's been supplying drones to Russia to its nuclear development arriving at the moment of truth; from regional wars of influence to the anti-government uprising of Iranian youth.

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That leaves us spoiled for choice when it comes to possible interpretations of this act of war against Iran, which likely is a precursor to plenty of others to follow.

Iranian authorities, in their comments, blame the United States and Israel for the aggression. These are the two usual suspects for Tehran, and it is not surprising that they are at the top of the list.

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