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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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Society

Jehovah's Witnesses Translate The Bible In Indigenous Language — Is This Colonialism?

The Jehovah's Witnesses in Chile have launched a Bible version translated into the native Mapudungun language, evidently indifferent to the concerns of a nation striving to save its identity from the Western cultural juggernaut.

A Mapuche family awaits for Chilean President Gabriel Boric to arrive at the traditional Te Deum in the Cathedral of Santiago, on Chile's Independence Day.

Claudia Andrade

NEUQUÉN — The Bible can now be read in Mapuzugun, the language of the Mapuche, an ancestral nation living across Chile and Argentina. It took the Chilean branch of the Jehovah's Witnesses, a latter-day Protestant church often associated with door-to-door proselytizing and cold calling, three years to translate it into "21st-century Mapuzugun".

The church's Mapuche members in Chile welcomed the book when it was launched in Santiago last June, but some of their brethren see it rather as a cultural imposition. The Mapuche were historically a fighting nation, and fiercely resisted both the Spanish conquerors and subsequent waves of European settlers. They are still fighting for land rights in Chile.

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