The Boy Who Sees Without Eyes

This is the miraculous story of American teenager Ben Underwood, who has been completely blind since the age of three when he lost both eyes to retinal cancer. Yet, Ben zooms around on a skateboard, shoots basketball hoops, and dodges lamp-posts and parked cars unaided. How does Ben do all this without the use of his eyes? Incredibly, Ben has taught himself to see with sound, using an extraordinary technique he has created. Ben makes a sharp click with his tongue from which the echo bounces off the object right back at him, allowing him to know precisely where objects are located.

The technique, called ‘echo-location’, is not dissimilar to the way a bat or dolphin uses sound to see. Ben was able to distinguish objects with his clicking by noticing that objects ‘sounded’ different. Driving along in the car for example, Ben noticed that the side streets sounded different to the buildings, something his family, and the scientists at the University of California in Santa Barbara who are conducting tests into Ben’s amazing ability, find astonishing. Seeing with sound has transformed Ben’s life.

His mum lets him play in the street, just like all the other kids, because his sound pictures seem to make him more aware of danger than his sighted friends. He can even rollerblade quite easily and do chores around the house. Ben refuses to let society label him as disabled, so when he meets another blind man who also uses echo-location with the extra assistance of a white cane to help him get around extra tricky situations, Ben finds it hard to take up the use of a tool he sees as not for him – a young boy who has relied on his own extraordinary ability to allow him to see in his own way for so many years.

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  1. Hello, I also have this ability. It is similar as shown in the video. But I can further adjust to see outlines of objects through other objects. I am a science major at a university so I put some time to figure out some of the mechanics that may be at work, allowing for such an experience. The area the sight originates from is the center of the lower forehead. Exactly in the area described as the mythical third eye. I think it is quite possible this occurs because of bicarbonate blood buffers in the cerebrospinal fluid that circulates the brain. Bicarbonate disassociates in plasma fluid to H+ and HCO3-, a weak acid and weak base, which maintains a constant pH balance. I think its possible that the carbonate ions close to the synaptic clefts randomly get stripped of its remaining proton by the transmission of Cl- ions from one neuron to another. As the neurons transmit both Ca2+ and Cl- at the synaptic cleft as well as some leakage, the Cl- strips the carbonate ion to CO3 2-, instantaneously a Ca2+ ion attaches forming CaCO3(s). This is a formation of calcium carbonate, or routinely called calcite. For this to be mechanically possible, the formation would form between or adjacent to dendrites and soma body of neurons. I think the deposits would be random but become noticeable when such deposits induce neurological responses that add characteristics or interfere with sight, sound, coordination or memory. Studies are published linking calcium carbonate deposits in persons brains, which has lead to noticeable memory loss. Calcium carbonate CaCO3 (calcite) forms as a solid crystal. It exhibits some very interesting properties. It is very sensitive to frequency vibrations and acts as a piezo crystal, inducing small electrical potentials proportional to a frequency felt. When such a potential is induced in a neurological system, the neurons will reach it resting potential threshold and fire. If deposits of calcite build at at the intersection of where the optic nerves project to the area of perceived sight, the frequencies detected by the calcite will render an image. From my personal experience, the image retains the exact scale as we see with our regular eyes, but is dark gray scale of the objects. Living things show up in faint colors, a type of faint glowing colored plasma tone. It is possible to see things such as hearts beating in a persons chest, as I’ve had this experience and have seen my own heart beating in my chest, which is indeed a very strange experience. There is another story about a blind man making clicking sounds that enables him to see in a similar way. It is currently being described as human echolocation. This would again indicate calcite piezo electric properties inducing a current by the mentioned clicking sound he makes, thus reaching the neurons resting potential threshold to fire. This could be the mechanism overlooked that enables such things as echolocation as well as psychic abilities. Crystals vibrating can induce other crystals to vibrate exact frequencies via resonance. This is the base fundamental physical property which allow for radio, cell phones and all other wireless communications to function. My primary projects are alternative fuels, efficiently extracting crude oils from rubber and plastics. Also new techniques in locating oil and gas deposits which show to be very promising. But my hobbies project is working with artificial intelligence. I have a good thinking algorithm worked out, which works well with all species, whether using signaling molecules or neurons. In brain functioning, dynamic memory is always a question on the forefront. One of my experiments I have done is the ability to hear my girl friend talk to herself. This is a commonly described experience by many people, but never really taken seriously. In my case it works best in a very relaxed state. I have done this to the point that my girl friend gets mad and says I’m invading her privacy. I always want verification, so I repeat word for word what she was saying to herself. The important part to note is that the voice I hear is exactly the voice I hear when she talks. The logic here describes that she set the tones of her own voice to talk to herself (without physically speaking) at tones heard by her own voice. As her partner, my memory of her voice, which is recognized in my memory, is set at tones of her voice as well. This can be an indication that dynamic brain memory utilizes calcium carbonate formations to detect and recognize particular frequencies as stored memory, therefore integrated within neurological memory plasticity. If my girlfriend talks to herself and the set frequency induces current enough to set the neurons into action in my brain in exact patterns as if she was talking, would indicate resonance as-well as a vehicle that allows for the transmission. This vehicle could very-well be the deposited calcite crystal formations. Very similar to our current wireless communications.
    I think it could be possible to manipulate calcium carbonate deposits in particular nerve areas that can assist blind persons to see again. I also think it is possible to do the same for hearing, but with some secondary relay equipment. Calcium carbonate may be the primary mechanism for psychic and clairvoyant experiences. Lastly calcium carbonate deposits, possibly misplaced via leaking membranes, excess or lack of, may also have some roll in some mental illnesses.
    To end this attempt for explanation, would such abilities be a vestige biological trait, developing evolving trait or brain injury by leaking ions from neurons. From what I experienced and studied thus far, it may be a little of all three reasons allowing for this ability, and furthermore I do think this phenomena can be explored to further extents and may very-well yield some very fruitful results, namely for the blind community.

    • I really appreciate your thoughts on the matter! They were truly enlightening. Do you have any ideas regarding how we may begin to develop these deposits within ourselves?

  2. watching him run into a car was fukinn hilarrious

  3. great doc, was reading up on the guy and other similar people who use echo location, apparently he died of the cancer that took his eyes 🙁

  4. what a strong young boy and wonderful wonderful mother

  5. I watched this documentary in shear amazement! and tears of joy. Good luck,the world is cheering you on. 

  6. all i can say is wow…ive seen this once before and was pleased to have found it again…truely remarkable…his mom is such a wonderful person and my hats off to her

  7. I was searching for this specific the other day. i do not commonly post within forums but i wanted to say thank you!