Zachary Howard via Instructables
Zachary Howard via Instructables

This Synesthesia Mask Simulates How Colors Smell

Zachary Howard via Instructables
Zachary Howard via Instructables

When processing a piece of sensory information, the majority of us use just one of the five senses at a time. People with synesthesia apparently experience the world differently. According to self-described synesthetes (who include Vladimir Nabokov and Kanye West), the condition blends senses together, allowing them do things like see music, taste paintings, or color-code numbers. It's hard to imagine what that experience would be like, but there's now a mask that allows people without synesthesia to smell color.

Zachary Howard, an aerospace engineer and art fellow at the software company Autodesk, built the device so he could experience the phenomenon firsthand. According to Popular Science, the synesthesia mask is worn in tandem with a finger sensor that can detect the color of whatever it's placed over. Different colors are programmed to trigger the release of different scents: Howard chose grapefruit for red, tea tree for green, and lavender for blue. Touching any color in between releases a specific mixture of smells regulated by fans and motors in the mask. 

Howard's version of the mask offers a limited experience of how one might smell color, but the design leaves room for customization. The step-by-step instructions to build your own are available on Instructables.com. Watch Howard test out his own mask in the video below.

[h/t Popular Science]

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'Lime Disease' Could Give You a Nasty Rash This Summer
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A cold Corona or virgin margarita is best enjoyed by the pool, but watch where you’re squeezing those limes. As Slate illustrates in a new video, there’s a lesser-known “lime disease,” and it can give you a nasty skin rash if you’re not careful.

When lime juice comes into contact with your skin and is then exposed to UV rays, it can cause a chemical reaction that results in phytophotodermatitis. It looks a little like a poison ivy reaction or sun poisoning, and some of the symptoms include redness, blistering, and inflammation. It’s the same reaction caused by a corrosive sap on the giant hogweed, an invasive weed that’s spreading throughout the U.S.

"Lime disease" may sound random, but it’s a lot more common than you might think. Dermatologist Barry D. Goldman tells Slate he sees cases of the skin condition almost daily in the summer. Some people have even reported receiving second-degree burns as a result of the citric acid from lime juice. According to the Mayo Clinic, the chemical that causes phytophotodermatitis can also be found in wild parsnip, wild dill, wild parsley, buttercups, and other citrus fruits.

To play it safe, keep your limes confined to the great indoors or wash your hands with soap after handling the fruit. You can learn more about phytophotodermatitis by checking out Slate’s video below.

[h/t Slate]

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Why Eating From a Smaller Plate Might Not Be an Effective Dieting Trick 
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It might be time to rewrite the diet books. Israeli psychologists have cast doubt on the widespread belief that eating from smaller plates helps you control food portions and feel fuller, Scientific American reports.

Past studies have shown that this mind trick, called the Delboeuf illusion, influences the amount of food that people eat. In one 2012 study, participants who were given larger bowls ended up eating more soup overall than those given smaller bowls.

However, researchers from Ben-Gurion University in Negev, Israel, concluded in a study published in the journal Appetite that the effectiveness of the illusion depends on how empty your stomach is. The team of scientists studied two groups of participants: one that ate three hours before the experiment, and another that ate one hour prior. When participants were shown images of pizzas on serving trays of varying sizes, the group that hadn’t eaten in several hours was more accurate in assessing the size of pizzas. In other words, the hungrier they were, the less likely they were to be fooled by the different trays.

However, both groups were equally tricked by the illusion when they were asked to estimate the size of non-food objects, such as black circles inside of white circles and hubcaps within tires. Researchers say this demonstrates that motivational factors, like appetite, affects how we perceive food. The findings also dovetail with the results of an earlier study, which concluded that overweight people are less likely to fall for the illusion than people of a normal weight.

So go ahead and get a large plate every now and then. At the very least, it may save you a second trip to the buffet table.

[h/t Scientific American]

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