Echolocation: animal sonar. It’s one of nature’s coolest inventions (and that’s saying a lot).
Animals cry out sounds, which bounce off of objects around them and travel back to the animal. By listening to how the sounds echo they can figure out (with incredible accuracy) how far away that object is, how big it is, if it is moving, and potentially what kind of material it is made out of (eg tasty prey animal, three feet away and moving to the left at 0.3m/s).
Dolphins and whales do it. Bats do it. A couple of bird species do it.
And – astonishingly – humans can do it too.
I would never have believed the story of Ben Underwood if it hadn’t been put on film. But here it is: a blind teenage boy who uses echolocation to shoot foosball, skate, and – wait for it – play video games. (And don’t even think about being a cynical prick and suggest that he’s faking – Underwood lost both his eyes to cancer at age two.)
Who would have thought a human could do this, without the giant ears of a bat, or the big squishy melon of fat of a dolphin? I would never have thought the human brain capable of this. But like I always say: truth is stranger than fiction.
I really like what the doctor says: “The real story here is not his talents, but his attitude.”
… but I LOVE what Ben’s mother has to say:
“Nobody is going to tell him that there is an impossibility for him, because there are none … Be proud of who you are no matter what. There is nothing that you can do that I can’t do better!
“That’s the attitude I want to give him.”