How To Find Your Blindspot

In my most recent video, I built a digital camera in order to show how the eye evolved. If you haven’t seen that yet, this post might not make as much sense, so check that out first:

My camera was far from perfect, but it turns out that so our are eyes. They even have a blindspot! Here is how to find your blindspot:

  1. Close your right eye and look at the cross (image below) with your left eye. You should still be able to see the circle in your peripheral vision.
  2. Slowly move your head closer to the screen, keeping your right eye closed and your left focussed on the cross.
  3. It may take some exploring, but at the right distance, the circle will disappear from your peripheral view – your brain will have photoshopped it out.

The distance that works is different for everyone, and different depending on the screen. For me, I need to have my head 40 cm away from my computer monitor, or 20cm away from my cell phone.

Our eyes could be so much better! Octopi have no blindspot, because their photocells actually point the right way.

You know how I mentioned we have three types of photocells for seeing colour? Some mantis shrimps have 16. That means they see WAY MORE colour than we can. Snakes like pythons can see heat (infrared) and butterflies can see ultraviolet.

If you think about the entire electromagnetic spectrum, the part labelled “visible” is actually just a tiny fraction. So, thinking big picture,  we don’t just have a blindspot – we are mostly blind.

My eyes are blue (yup, thats my eye up there ^^), but neither of my parents have blue eyes – so where did I get that from? Luckily, I know, because my entire family has our DNA sequenced. So, as you may guess – next months video is all about genes.

13,799 Dominoes and Beyond

I spent a good chunk of the holidays making and setting up dominoes. Since it was (apparently) the second longest domino run in history, it took over 9 minutes to fall. I let each domino represent 1 million years, and it still took 306m to go from the big bang to modern day. In order to make sure this was all as stressful for me as possible, as they all fell I narrated the universe’s history and exploded things. Check it out:

Since publishing this yesterday its gone kind of insane. Its had 40k views, blew up on reddit (and upon demand, I’ve made a subreddit), and my subscriber number doubled. By Jove, even Hevesh5 – the most subscribed-to domino artist on YouTube – said good things about it!

Thank you to everyone for all the support and encouragement!

Anyway, there are so many things that I just couldn’t include in this video, but wanted to share somehow. So here are some of my favourites:

  • Since these dominoes take ‘only’ 555 seconds to fall, it is 800 Trillion times faster than real life.
  • When I say “to make that timeline, there aren’t enough dominoes in the universe” I mean: if you wanted to continue my timeline to stretch all the way from now until the heat death of the universe, you’d need more dominoes than would fit in the universe. Never-mind how you get the matter to make them.
  • With a single scrape from a piece of sand-paper to that last domino, you would wipe away the last century or so. Our entire lifetimes; from starstuff to sawdust. Poof.

A bunch of people have already asked what the next video will be about. I’m so glad people are so excited to learn about science. This is great, you folks. Anyway, without giving too much away, I will say that for the next video I had a great metaphor idea that I wanted to do… but to do it I would have to build a digital camera.

From scratch.

So I did.

Next month, it’s gonna get weird!


It Started with 2000 Dominoes…

I’ve always loved visualizations of time-lines, like Carl Sagan’s cosmic calendar, which compressed all of the history of the universe into a single year. There is usually a problem with most of these sorts of thought experiments, though, and that problem is our ego. We like to focus on ourselves. So most of our time-lines (like this one) human history is our main focus, instead of just the 0.001% of the history of the universe that our species happens to occupy. I decided to make a different sort of timeline:

I posted this on Thursday, and it got 10,000 views in just the first few days, which is a lot for a new video on my little channel. More importantly, I got a ton of comments saying that the internet wanted “MORE”. So, as per demand, I’ve started preparing to do a bigger one. One that will be 500m long and will cover the entire history of the Universe. 13,799 dominoes, one take. I’m going to do it. EDIT: I DID IT.

Logistically, its going to be much much harder. It will require building a robot, making thousands of dominoes, practicing a script while jogging (and looking like a madman), and all for 4.6 minutes of domino story-telling. but if there is one thing that this 2000-domino project made me sure of, its that doing the entire history of the universe is possible (albeit, very very tricky).

There will likely be accidents and there may be tears, but there shall be dominoes and science!