The Real-Life: BATMAN
Muse Science Magazine for Kids|January 2021
HOW ONE PERSON SEES THROUGH SOUND
Cathryn Free

Using a wall for balance, Daniel Kish steadied himself on his new bike. He peddled ahead, wobbling a little. Soon the 6-year-old was pushing away from the wall and picking up speed, riding all on his own. This story isn’t a big deal until you learn one important detail: Kish was blind.

Kish, who is now an adult, lost his eyes to retinal cancer as a baby. But he doesn’t let the lack of sight slow him down at all. He uses something he calls “flash sonar” to help him navigate the world. He makes clicks with his tongue and listens to how the sound bounces offthe things around him. His brain uses this information to create an image of the world around him. This technique is similar to what dolphins and bats do to locate and navigate their surroundings: they cry or chirp and listen for the echo. Kish is a real-life bat man.

LIGHT AND SOUND

Kish relies on sound and echoes instead of light to perceive his surroundings. This process is called echolocation.

Light energy travels in waves that go up and down, like waves on the ocean. These waves hit objects, whether a shirt, a mirror, or your face, and much of that light is reflected off. When you look at an object, what you see is the reflection of light from that object. Your brain translates that reflection into an image. This is how sighted people perceive and make sense of the world. Without light and the reflections of light, eyes can’t see anything.

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