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Echolocation is a technique certain animals utilize, they make sounds and listen to echos bounce off surrounding objects to navigate. While in Hawaii, I whale watched and witnessed echolocation first hand. It was amazing, but not as amazing as the story of Ben Underwood, a blind 16 year old and the first human capable of using echolocation. At age two, retinoblastoma, a form of eye cancer had developed in his eyes. Chemo and radiation treatment began immediately, but after ten months the cancer was still present. His mother had to make a choice, and his eyes were removed.

A year after the surgery, Ben was riding in his car seat when he said "Mom, do you see that building?". Ben noticed the noises the car made were reflected and was able to repeat this process of Echolocation by making clicking noises with his tongue and listening to echos. In some situations, Ben was even more aware of his surroundings than his friends; playing in the streets, he could hear cars from blocks away while other children noticed them only after they turned into the block. The human ear is an amazing tool. It is incredible that the the 3 smallest bones in our body are part of such an intricate process, and through this process Ben was able to see again.

When one sense is lost, our other senses are strengthened. Do you think a person with perfect vision could harness echolocation?

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This page contains a single entry by freem467 published on October 7, 2011 3:36 PM.

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