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  • Yes. We've identified a few potential methods to circumvent the need for long-term VAD dieting, but as glims mentioned it's not the primary focus right now. At this point, it's really proof of concept. There has been a lot of different research performed similar to this. The majority was prior to the 1960's and lacked access to the electrophysiological measures that we'll be using. Some animal studies showed as much as a 95% replacement of Rhodopsin with Porphyropsin. Now, while I won't let myself even hope for such an awesome result, at 95% porphyropsin a person would have vision equivalent to a Tilapia. A Tilapia can see up to about 950nm. Humans see up to around 700nm. The difference between something that we percieve as orange, and something we percieve as yellow is about 30nm.  So a tilapia sees around 8 colors worth of spectrum above us.

    Now, I slightly misrepresented the data in that last statement. There really hasn't been much research at all pertaining to photopsin incorporation of 3 4 dehydroretinal. Assuming that we do end up with a significant amount of porphyropsin formed in the retinal cells, we'll be able to "see in the dark." That much has been confirmed in animal studies. Mice/rats end up with significantly improved dark vision. The part I'm particularly interested in is whether or not there will be any changes to high acuity color vision. I can't concieve of a color I haven't seen before. In fact, neither can you. Its outside the brains capability. So is it possible that subjects will experience some new novel color experience? Will the spectral shift simply be interpreted by the brain in terms of colors we already know? Or will there be no change in color perception at all? This is something I hope we will be able to answer.

  • edited September 2013
    Since you mentioned gene therapy, I'd like to point out to anyone that wasn't aware, that it already has essentially been done.  The eye is imunoprivileged, which makes gene therapy easier

    The summary is that there is a specific viral vector and injection procedure which has been used in humans eyes with safe results so far.  In monkeys, the exact same viral vector was capable of permanently replacing opsins, and granting new ranges of vision.  It seems incredibly likely that this would work in humans as well, but they're focusing on fixing colorblindness first, and even then raising funds for formal human clinical trials is a barrier.
  • edited September 2013
    One other thing: 

    In terms of perception of deep-red/infrared colors, I would think that the human visual circuit for luminance would be one of your bigger enemies, perhaps a bigger problem than even the frequency response of the L-opsin itself.

    If you do this and look at a NIR-colored object, your rods have no response, your M-cones and S-cones have no response, so the only information your visual information gets from that object is entirely from one type of cone,which is rare in human color perception.  If, while you're getting this limited NIR information, your eyes are seeing other light, in a normal context, then your luminance circuit might simply filter it out, as a sort of noise, because the magnitude of stimulation and firing rate among Rods+S-cones+M-cones+L-cones in other regions simply dwarfs the stimulation from your modified L-cones by such a large degree.

    My thinking about this, ultimately comes with playing with a pair of these cheap goggles, many years ago

    Many, every-day objects humans interact with that are meant to be dyed black, are actually dyed with pigments that are very reflective in near-infrared.  Under normal lighting conditions, regardless of the brightness of that light, or even the color within normal bounds, we are going to simply see these objects as black...  But when you put on a pair of those goggles, and give your eyes time to adjust, all of these normally-black objects are suddenly a shade of red or orange, a bit like the color you'd get if you bleached the previously-black object.

    Now, part of this simply has to do with pupil dilation, certainly.  When you are normally out in bright enough light to trigger this IR-reactivity in your extant opsins, your eyes just aren't letting enough light in to trigger a strong enough reaction, considering that the IR light is on the very far edge of its frequency response curve, that makes sense...  But the thing that always weirded me out was that the objects look black not very very dark red, but like a completely absence of color, when they are definitely able to receive signals for the color on some level, even if they were very low.  I've learned a good deal more about the visual system since then, but it has always stuck with me that it turns out that receiving light of a given type is not enough in certain contexts.

    My point would be that color perception is based heavily upon the weighted comparison of inputs from various types of photoreceptors.  One type of photoreceptors (other than rods) providing input alone is not the norm, and is not what the system is optimized for, so I'm not sure I'd expect great improvement in terms of perception under normal conditions.  That said, it's great that you're doing this.

    tl;dr: Our eyes are much more impressive when dealing with very bright monochrome light in dark environments,but don't expect that or the fact of photodetection in eyes to directly translate to changes in perception in daylight environments.
  • Hey hey! We're on H+ now. Um, I wish I'd done a better job writing it up when I first wrote it.
  • got a post up on reddit. It may or may not get the buzz we want, but all are welcome to come and participate.
  • Apparently reddit mods are only cool with posts about scientific articles, as opposed to, you know...actually doing science.

    Transhumanism crosspost:

    Futurology crosspost:
  • edited October 2013
    I look forward to seeing the results of your experiment! Unfortunately, I have no money to pledge to this worthy cause. Will you be updating the forum as the experiment progresses with your findings?
  • When we get results, we will let everyone know our findings. We want our research to be open and accessible to all.
  • This is the last week of crowdfunding the infrared vision project that Cassox, Saal, Lucas, DirectorX, Zombiegristle, and I have all been working on.

    Even a five spot helps. We also take bitcoins :)

    heres the website:

    and here;s a bitcoin address:

    Thank you for all you questions and curiosity. We'll be sure to keep you updated.
  • Come visit our webpage at and follow us on Twitter @science_ftm ! I'll be posting blog updates weekly and tweeting daily.

  • It looks like the goal will be reached without my help, but to allay any doubts, I will complete the funding if others do not by the day before the deadline. 
  • Any funding over is helpful as well. it's not like we couldn't use more resources to get better data...

    if you use bitcoins, we can take funding that way as well. it skips the middle man and makes sure that none of the finances are lost to percentages due.

  • Excellent! thank you so much @AmmonRa! you wrapped up our funding!

    we'll be sure to put this to good use and share our results with the community :)
  • edited October 2013
    Thank you indeed AmmonRa! I feel a bit like a Renaissance scientist with a wealthy patron...only without the constant threat of getting my excommunication upgraded to a decapitation free of charge xD

    In other news, I just put up a new blog post at , come check it out!
  • edited October 2013
    Can't wait to hear more about this exciting research.  I wish I knew more about biology and physiology. Good luck!
  • BTW your project is mentioned in Amal's speech at TED about biohacking. Neat video! 

  • Cool! Thanks for the link!
  • There's a new blog post up! I did a little beginner walkthrough of the metabolic pathway of vitamin A, will be going more into detail in future posts.
  • New blog post detailing the ERG testing unit @Cassox has been working on! Come check it out.
  • I read something about the eye itself acting as a blocker for infrared light, although I assume you won't be going low enough in the spectrum to run into that problem?
  • that is correct. we are not going to be working in that range of infra red. we a going to be looking at near infra red.
  • Rebirth. Hey guys, I've been following your study for a while now and decided to do mine concurrent with yours. I've contacted a nutrionist and did some studies of the effects of the diet in order to eliminate vitamin A. So far with the contact lens rig. Depleted levels of vitamin A1 can lead to increased risks of retinal scarring, exacerbated by the use of anesthetic. Also a question, the diet you guys are going for, have you compensated for beta carotene,
    carotids that interact with VA1? I'll post whatever I find here. Excellent idea guys, can't wait till the tenth!
  • @Day0fashura,

    Thanks for your interest! It'll be very interesting to have anothe independent data point to compare with our results.

    To answer your question, The Soylent blend Rhinehart will be sending us is completely devoid of retinoids/carotenoids to ensure optimal VA1 depletion.

    Please make sure you supplement with retinoic acid if you plan on going completely vitamin A deficient (VAD) as some really nasty side effects can show up otherwise. Shoot me an email at [email protected] if you have any questions :)
  • A thought just occurred to me, what would this experiment do to a person with say a rare degenerative eye disease? I have been afflicted with Keritoconus for the better part of a decade, until stem cell therapy produces a cure I will always require regular eye surgeries(regular being every 5-10 years, a few more if I'm lucky). I'm sure replacing Vitamin A with Vitamin A2 wouldn't have any major effect like say, cause my body to have a sudden rejection, but you never know. I hope to replicate your results when you are done, but I will need to heavily consult my doctor first with the data you guys get, of course he will discourage me, but all I need to know from him is if doing this will make me go blind again, may just pose a hypothetical.
  • <P>Well, I'll answer to the best of my ability without trying to be overlycautious. Of course if you did such as thing... blah blah blah... you'll likely go blind, etc. For all we know, it's going to occur to all of us anyhow without already having a predisposing condition. </P>
    <P>A disorder of the lens such as keitoconus is unlikely to be affected by what's going on in the retina, so I doubt there to be any interaction. On the other hand, by making our retinas sensitive to a wider spectrum, there is actually some likeli-hood that we'll be losing some resolution. If you have poor vision to begin with, the combination of the two may be a problem. Additionally, while I see no reason to expect any permanent damage, if you fuck up the neurons of your eyes there IS NO FIX. People with diabetic retinopathy for example can't simply wear glasses because the focusing of the light isn't the issue. We fully intend to monitor our eye health closely, but once you find changes they could already be permanent. So, amongst those without other eye issues we're likely looking at a very minor change in vision that isn't noticable. To you? It could be the straw that breaks the camels back. </P>
  • That's what I was thinking too, but I'm going to have to wait to see your guys data before I do anything myself
  • We should have a full data set by April.
  • For those of you who've been wondering if we took the money and's the latest from the fringe of vision science! Check out our newest blog post! Sorry for the delay.
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