DOSSIER - Night Vision, soon within our reach?
Having the ability to see in the dark can be very useful. Night vision is even a fantasy for many science fiction enthusiasts. Some living beings, moreover, can already see very well in the dark. What if it were ever possible for a human being to borrow this characteristic?
What would happen to a human being able to see in the dark?
Night vision made possible by promising studies
Animals have amazing visual abilities . Many can see much better than us in the dark. They are called nyctalopes . On the other hand, however, the latter distinguish colors less well.
This is explained by a cone / rod proportion different from that of human vision. So why not borrow these faculties from animals to improve our own vision, which is very weak when the light is lacking?
Science has of course looked into the subject, and many experiments have been carried out or are in progress. In 2019, American and Chinese researchers even successfully injected infrared vision into mice.
Rodents, like humans, do not have the ability to perceive all light waves, infrared radiation being invisible to the naked eye because its wavelength exceeds 700 nanometers .
The researchers therefore started from this base to develop ocular nanoparticles . These are anchored to the photoreceptors of the eye in order to retransmit light to the brain via a nerve signal.
The brain is then able to assimilate infrared radiation transformed into visible waves by nanoparticles .
In order to see the success of the injection, the researchers then placed the mice in a maze. They then managed to make out a platform hidden in the dark.
Ce6, serum capable of hypersensitizing sight
What if such an experiment could be carried out on a human being? This was the case in 2015, when a man volunteered for a rather crazy experiment.
Gabriel Licina, body hacker biochemist, was injected with a serum called Ce6 .
This chemical serum caused almost total blackening of the retina for about two hours. During this time he was able, with complete success, to recognize people located 50 meters away in the dark!
The Ce6 serum was mixed with the serum physiological and insulin , in order to guarantee better absorption. Another substance called dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) helped increase the permeability of cell membranes in the eye.
Of course, the injection of this serum made the patient's eyes extremely vulnerable to any light during the test. He then had to wear contact lenses to protect them. At the end of the experiment, however, no abnormalities were noted and his vision returned to normal.
[Embed] https://www.youtube.com/watch ? v = UJVPjREr4c8 & ab_channel = irodan1 [/ embed]
Chlorin e6, photosensitive molecule
Another treatment may be a way to improve our night vision . This is dynamic phototherapy , a treatment used to fight against certain cancers. The patients who underwent this treatment all admitted to seeing better in the dark.
A good starting point, therefore, for a scientific study. The researchers determined that, again, the culprit was chlorin e6 , the photosensitive molecule used for the Ce6 serum.
To determine how the molecule, used to destroy tumor cells , works with the visual system, scientists used molecular simulation .
As a result, by absorbing infrared radiation , chlorin e6 interacts with oxygen present in the tissues of the eye and transforms it into reactive oxygen, or singlet oxygen , a very reactive species that can destroy cells. cancerous.
The production of reactive oxygen does not destroy cells in the eye, but is important enough to improve night vision .
Is a human who sees in the dark a new human?
Much remains to be done to understand this mechanism linked to the injection of chlorine . Improving night vision could have a growing impact on research, especially in the fight against blindness . But a new perspective would have other consequences.
Indeed, our whole life could be turned upside down. Because, what would the possibility of seeing in the dark really represent for the human being? We can imagine a multitude of scenarios, while allowing ourselves a little science fiction.
Of course, the probability of one day seeing perfectly in the dark remains very low to this day. But by imagining it, one can easily understand that this would considerably change many fields related to human activity.
This would probably be a new step taken in the Anthropocene, l era of man.
From a social, professional, even military and geo-strategic point of view, improving night vision would redefine all human existence.
This dream or this fantasy would then take on a very special flavor, because it would also open the way to new ideas to allow the improvement of a new human being .
A challenge to match the ambitions of science, then, but a step that not everyone will be ready to take. In the meantime, you can always dream of being able to fend for yourself in the dark.