Have you ever wished you could see in the dark? Here’s how a team of biohackers developed temporary night vision, in a garage.
Californian based group Science for the Masses had a hunch that human eyesight could be enhanced to the point where you could see in the dark. They got this idea when they came across a patent filed in 2012 for a mixture that acted on the retina, inducing night vision.
The main ingredient of this mixture is a chlorophyll analog called Chlorin e6. This substance is found in some deep-sea fish and was occasionally used as a treatment for night blindness.
Drawing on this information, the group concluded that a Ce6 cocktail could improve a healthy human’s vision in low light conditions. After mixing a dose of Ce6 with insulin and dimethylsulfoxide in a saline solution, Science for the Masses was ready to see if their idea worked.
Team member and biochemistry researcher Gabriel Licina volunteered as a guinea pig.
Using a glorified turkey baster, one of his colleagues dripped 50 microliters of Ce6 into Licina’s eyes. The dose made its way into the conjunctival sac, which carried the chemical to the retina.
To me, it was a quick, greenish-black blur across my vision, and then it dissolved into my eyes,” Licina said. “If it looks like my eyes hurt, they did. I think that was just from the speculum though.”
After about an hour, the effects kicked in and the team decided to perform some tests. They traveled to a forest at night and started hanging different objects at various distances. Licina was able to accurately identify what they were. Even from a distance of 160 feet (50 meters), his newly-acquired superpower enabled him to see moving subjects against different backgrounds.
Licina got it right 100% of the time, while a control group that had not used Ce6 was three times less likely to succeed.
We can imagine a multitude of uses for a substance that offers a temporary 300 percent vision increase in low light conditions, from military to rescue operations and even nighttime Bigfoot-spotting.
In the future, Science for the Masses will have to perform more scientific tests but they are certain their idea has potential.
Their experiment goes to show what can be achieved by a team of enthusiasts, even with a low budget.