Skip

Boy in China has eyes that glow in the dark, and night vision.
January 24, 2012 9:29 PM   Subscribe

The transhumans are among us. Let's hope this guy outbreeds us all.

Boy in China has eyes that glow in the dark, and night vision.
posted by Meatbomb (66 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
Meatbomb, you've performed a public service. I'm glad you've warned me about this, didn't want to get freaked out if I bump into him on a dark night.
posted by arcticseal at 9:31 PM on January 24, 2012


Hmm...must be one of those new backlit CMOS sensors. They get all the best gadgets in China these days...
posted by sexyrobot at 9:36 PM on January 24, 2012


Damnit, born just too late to join in on the Mutant Power Awakening.

Just. My. Luck.
posted by The Whelk at 9:36 PM on January 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


I think I'm mutating right now. Or it could be the coffee kicking in. Research continues.
posted by quarsan at 9:42 PM on January 24, 2012 [6 favorites]


KIDNAP HIM! DISSECT HIS BRAIN!
posted by Ritchie at 9:43 PM on January 24, 2012 [6 favorites]


Inject it into my veins!
posted by The Whelk at 9:48 PM on January 24, 2012


Damnit, born just too late to join in on the Mutant Power Awakening.

All readers of the Wild Cards series know that the Mutant Powers happen by exposure to the virus which causes the mutations. As long as you don't draw the Black Queen, you'll survive and discover your own powers when they finally emerge.
posted by hippybear at 9:48 PM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


He probably just has normal blue eyes, the blue and green irises eyes don't block out as much sunlight to the same extent as brown eyes do, which explains needing to squint in the sun. As far as reading in the dark, did they test any other kids, or just him? It doesn't sound like a very scientific experiment.

Some ethnic minorities in China do have blue eyes, his parents probably just both had copies of the recessive gene.
posted by delmoi at 9:49 PM on January 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


(as far as glowing like a cat's eyes, they didn't show anything that looked like that in the video, as far as I could tell)
posted by delmoi at 9:50 PM on January 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


sure, but he totally *sucks* at basketball. so you can't have everything.
posted by facetious at 9:50 PM on January 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


Well, I guess I can now reveal that I have been born with the mutant power to not give a shit about Snooki or Brett Michaels.

I will fully cooperate with government researchers.
posted by lumpenprole at 9:53 PM on January 24, 2012 [7 favorites]


My mutant power is crippling depression!
posted by The Whelk at 9:55 PM on January 24, 2012 [27 favorites]


I'm not seeing anything from Actual Scientists in that report. Sounds like a bunch of country bumpkins getting over excited about nothing.
posted by empath at 9:57 PM on January 24, 2012 [7 favorites]




NO YOU GUYS ALIENS AND STUFF
posted by cmoj at 10:04 PM on January 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


ALIENS
posted by The Whelk at 10:09 PM on January 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Discovered in a "minorities hospital" - yup big future in communist Han China.
posted by Samuel Farrow at 10:10 PM on January 24, 2012


As far as I can tell the only proof here is some random woman saying they showed him playing cards in the dark and he could totally see them.
posted by DecemberBoy at 10:11 PM on January 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Came for the science,
left in tears.
posted by june made him a gemini at 10:12 PM on January 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


National EnquirerFilter

It is times like this that I wish MeFi had downvotes.
posted by charlie don't surf at 10:23 PM on January 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


The superman exists, and he's... Chinese.
posted by slackdog at 10:24 PM on January 24, 2012


There is slightly more detail in the video about the light conditions during these informal 'tests'. Basically in one they were in a dark stairwell with blankets over the exits so that there was "very little light" and essentially had him do math homework. In another the people were all in a room where the woman "couldn't see the people next to her or in front of her" and had him identify cards. Although I'm not sure how the non-night-visioned people knew what cards they were.

Anyway yeah not exactly rigorous. But blue eyes! Cool! It'd be nice if they did something a little more scientific with it at some point.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 10:29 PM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


It is times like this that I wish MeFi had downvotes.

With the recent upswing in the post rate and corresponding downturn in the post quality it's going to need it.
posted by clarknova at 10:29 PM on January 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


National EnquirerFilter

Bat Boy was the much-missed Weekly World News. BAT CHILD FOUND IN CAVE
posted by DecemberBoy at 10:30 PM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, this is some seriously weak reporting. If his eyes do reflect light in the dark though, that may mean that he has a tapetum lucidum, which would explain his excellent night vision as well.

Cats and many other animals (dogs, cows) have these, and they serve to take light that has passed through the retina without being absorbed by rod and cone sensors and reflect it back so that the eye has another chance to "see" it. It enhances night vision (and would presumably make daytime look much brighter if one's eyes didn't have further modification to account for this) by improving the eye's ability to use the light that enters it. It's common among many mammals, but human eyes lack this feature.

Again, who knows what's actually going on here given the totally abysmal trash-journalism in the feature, but that is one possible explanation that does not seem inconsistent with the report. Presumably if you took this kid to a veterinarian (or an opthamologist who knew what to look for) and had his eyes examined they would be able to tell whether or not he has a tapetum lucidum. And you could probably work out some higher-quality tests for this kid than to just put him in a darkened stairwell and see if he can complete a worksheet.

This would be way more interesting if the report didn't suck so bad.
posted by Scientist at 10:30 PM on January 24, 2012 [8 favorites]


Oh, and I just did a quick search to see if any more respectable journalism has been done on the matter, but looks like not. Kind of a shame, this is the sort of thing that if true would make an interesting medical case study. Might even be worth taking a look at his genome if some biologist thought it might be possible to figure out which genes were responsible for this. Presumably some of our ancestors had features like this, and reversals do happen, though they're not usually beneficial.
posted by Scientist at 10:36 PM on January 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


Ah, and on another note, we should probably hope that the boy doesn't grow up to be this guy one day.
posted by Scientist at 10:37 PM on January 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


I liked how they said that they knew he was different because he squinted in bright sunlight. Crappy reporting.
posted by arcticseal at 10:51 PM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


SOCKPUPPET HAS LASER EYES
Reported Increase in Curiosity
posted by not_on_display at 10:55 PM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


The child stands out because of blue eyes in a country of people with brown eyes. So he gets special attention and his eyes are talked about. They start saying they glow ("when shown upon with a flashlight") "just like a cat's eyes" and that he can read in near darkness.

Most kids can read with much less light than most adults need. My kids also seem to have this ability to read in "near darkness". Maybe they are aliens!
posted by eye of newt at 11:06 PM on January 24, 2012


Can't seem to leave this crappy thing alone for some godawful reason. I keep wanting it to be better because it'd be super interesting to me if it were true. This is probably because the tapetum lucidum is on my shortlist of body mods (along with photosynthetic skin and a working Vitamin C synthesis gene) that I would totally get done in a futuristic transhuman utopia.

It's annoying that they didn't even manage to get the eye-flashing thing on camera! I mean, if he really does have "eyes like a cat" (nevermind the fact that he has round pupils) then it shouldn't have been bloody difficult to show them shining in the darkness. I mean, with cats it's practically impossible to avoid it if you take a flash picture of them at night.

I wonder if any better journalism on this has been done in China, which would just be sort of invisible to English-speaking netizens due to the language barrier.
posted by Scientist at 11:11 PM on January 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


Lumpenprole! Vat #128! Represent!
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 11:12 PM on January 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


If we were once small nocturnal mammals we probably had
the ability to see well at night. Could this be an atavism, or throw
back gene?
posted by quazichimp at 11:18 PM on January 24, 2012


Several years ago some scientists tested Moken ("sea gypsy") children and found they were twice as good at seeing underwater compared with Occidental children. They can constrict their pupils really tiny when they dive. Look at the picture. You try and make your eyes do that; I sure can't.
posted by dgaicun at 11:21 PM on January 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


You should refer to the rest of us as cishumans.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:22 PM on January 24, 2012 [12 favorites]


It's interesting and it would be very cool if it turned out to be real. If it's true and if it's inheritable, people should line up to get sperm donations from this guy in a few years.

But until he gets some Randi-like tests to rule out Fox Sisters fakery, I don't believe it. It seems like the sort of thing a Chinese kid with blue eyes (maybe with the help of the rest of his family) might fake -- instead of being a freak, he gets lots of positive attention, special treatment, fame, and maybe lots of little perks such as permission to skip class, free trips, free meals, new clothes, and other things that the kids who happen to have brown eyes aren't going to get.

People have appeared to read blindfolded before, and people have appeared to read minds and talk to the dead, so appearing to read in a dark cellar doesn't seem like an impossible trick. Let's see video of this kid and his classmates all standing in the dark together with only his eyes glowing in the dark. Let's see him in a scientific lab participating (with control subjects) in reading tests that measure light levels and carefully make sure he isn't reciting prepared answers or using a hidden light source.
posted by pracowity at 11:53 PM on January 24, 2012


The 'reflected light' is from his irises, not his retina, it's just because they're blue. They tried to show it in the video.
posted by delmoi at 12:14 AM on January 25, 2012


This thread was worth reading just for the line, "Presumably if you took this kid to a veterinarian...."

I think all children should be seen by veterinarians. Save the doctors for us real people :)
posted by lollusc at 12:32 AM on January 25, 2012


As far as I can tell the only proof here is some random woman saying they showed him playing cards in the dark and he could totally see them.

Damn it man, what more do you need?!
posted by codswallop at 12:38 AM on January 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


Oh, those stupid, simple, country folk! Can't be trusted to know what dark is!

Sure, the story could be false. But it seems more reasonable to suppose that the kid can see in the dark. Stranger things have been known to happen.
posted by Goofyy at 12:40 AM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


I knew a girl who was pure Chinese, she had green eyes. She did not have that glow in the dark thing going.
I noticed just with the Wikipedia stuff (only a starting point, *not really research*!) that eye-shine has a strong association with diseases. Just sayin...
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 1:02 AM on January 25, 2012


Sure, the story could be false. But it seems more reasonable to suppose that the kid can see in the dark.

There are two alternatives:

1. It could be false, just as many stories about unusual things have been false before.

2. It could be true that he can really see in the dark, just as no human being has ever been able to do before in all recorded history.

I'm with you. Alternative 2 seems much more likely.
posted by pracowity at 1:30 AM on January 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


um. I can read all right in near-dark (people keep yelling at me "HOW DO YOU READ IN THERE") and I have dark eyes. I've also seen straight at the sun as a kid with no problems and still have 20/20 eyesight. Am I a mutant?
posted by divabat at 2:02 AM on January 25, 2012


I want to punch that narrator (and every one of the vacuous baritone douchebags they hire throughout Asia to read verbatim and as clumsily as possible the just-slightly-off English narration that the kid who fixes the computers wrote for them at the last minute) right in the balls.

Oh, yeah, blue eyed kid. Not all that rare in parts of Western China, so I've heard. I hope it gets him laid once he gets to the age to care, but more likely it'll get him ostracized.

Damn, I'm grumpy tonight.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:48 AM on January 25, 2012


um. I can read all right in near-dark

I'm sure you can, depending on what "near-dark" means to you. Lots of people can see in reduced light, but even if you are in the top 1 percent in terms of being able to see in reduced light there are still millions and millions of people like you in the world, whereas this story is framed to make it sound like the blue-eyed Chinese kid has super-special eyes like a nocturnal animal.

It's just a Bat Boy story without a controlled laboratory experiment using equipment to measure the light in absolute terms. Exactly what can the kid see compared to a bunch of other people carrying out the same tasks in identical circumstances? Some random dude claiming he saw the kid read where that random dude figures it should not have been possible is not any sort of evidence.
posted by pracowity at 3:28 AM on January 25, 2012


I wonder if Dave Lister is to blame for this one also like the other Cat.
posted by tribalspice at 3:31 AM on January 25, 2012


off topic - that was a happy boy.
Nice to see such a happy person this early in the morning.

Dear Boy in China (what is your name anyway?),
May the rest of your days give you surprises and opportunities that keep you as joyful as I saw you today, and may you spread that joy to the people around you, both near and far.
posted by bitteroldman at 3:41 AM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]




Sure, the story could be false. But it seems more reasonable to suppose that the kid can see in the dark. Stranger things have been known to happen.

If he can read in the dark, it's most likely that he can read in low light like pretty much everybody else can. There's no evidence at all that there's anything abnormal about him, nor any reason to think that there is.
posted by empath at 5:44 AM on January 25, 2012


Am I a mutant?

Nope, probably just a witch.
posted by Panjandrum at 5:45 AM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Or to follow the argument to its logical conclusion, a duck.
posted by The Hyacinth Girl at 6:25 AM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Guys guys guys... I have blue eyes. omg.

*X-files theme plays in the distance*
posted by jph at 6:51 AM on January 25, 2012


All the best "scientific" experiments are done in a stairwell with a blanket, so I'm down with this.
posted by orme at 6:52 AM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


He may be colorblind. In this lovely documentary, Oliver Sacks visits Pingelap, a Micronesian island where a disproportionate number of people have complete achromotopsia. They suffer from great light sensitivity and poor vision during the day, but at twilight and in the night, they can see far better than color-sighted individuals, as their rods allow them low-light vision that's attuned to seeing things in the periphery, and noticing movement. (Sacks also wrote about Pingelap in the book The Island of the Colorblind.

Then again, people with lighter-colored eyes are more prone to light sensitivity overall, and eventually, to age-related macular degeneration.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 7:30 AM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Not scientific and kind of goofy, but definitely fun to browse, the bottom of the Alphas TV show page has a nice collection of amazing people with weird skills or odd physical traits. Click on "Alpha Sightings" and scroll to the bottom.
posted by madred at 7:33 AM on January 25, 2012


Dad Ling said: "They told me he would grow out of it and that his eyes would stop glowing and turn black like most Chinese people but they never did."

At first read, I took this to mean that Chinese people are born with glowing eyes but they pretty much all grow out of it. I am kind of sorry that I reread the sentence and figured it out, honestly....
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:54 AM on January 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


The clearest evidence for this not being some kind of awesome medical anomaly is the fact that he has not yet been kidnapped for eventual participation in some kind of seekrit government superman breeding program.
posted by elizardbits at 8:06 AM on January 25, 2012


Sure, the story could be false. But it seems more reasonable to suppose that the kid can see in the dark.

ಠ_ಠ
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 8:08 AM on January 25, 2012


The superman exists, and he's... Chinese.

Well, do the math -- it's probably going to be China or India, man, whatever your dreams.
posted by wenestvedt at 8:42 AM on January 25, 2012


"Where the hell can I get eyes like that?"

"Gotta kill a few people."

"'Kay, I can do it."

"Then you got to get sent to a slam, where they tell you you'll never see daylight again. You dig up a doctor, and you pay him 20 menthol Kools to do a surgical shine job on your eyeballs."

"So you can see who's sneaking up on you in the dark?"

"Exactly."
posted by brundlefly at 9:55 AM on January 25, 2012


The boy's name is NONG Youhui

He was checked out by Dr. LU Linde, the chief of the ophthalmology section (20 years experience) at the Guangxi Nationality Hospital, who says he has never seen anything like this. His opinion is that this is an unusual case of albinism, which usually affects many parts of the body, including the eyes. In NONG Youhui's case, it only affects his eyes, which accounts for the "blue" coloration, which is really an absence of color. Dr. LU checked his vision in total darkness, but found that he is unable to see under such conditions. NONG Youhui, who has perfect vision (1.0 by Chinese standards, which probably equates to American's 20/20) is apparently used to working in semidarkness, and he adapts more quickly than most people. Sorry to disappoint everybody, but NONG Youhui cannot really see in the dark.

Here is a link to a Google translated version of the Hudong article (Hudong, which means "interaction," is a Chinese version of Wikipedia):

My summary is based on the following extract from the Hudong article:

经专业检测发现,农有穗眼球虹膜上的色素细胞缺乏,他的瞳孔因此看上去呈蓝色。西方白种人的蓝眼睛只是虹膜色素细胞比较少,而农有穗的眼睛,不仅虹膜色素细胞缺乏,就连后面视网膜上的色素细胞都没有。农有穗白天在室外感到光线刺眼,就是这个原因。
(图)“猫眼”男孩“猫眼”男孩

根据眼底图像,专家确认,农有穗是患有一种先天性的眼型白化病。卢林德主任说:“我们经常看到有些人的头发是白的,皮肤也是偏红偏白的,眼睛也是蓝蓝的,这是因全身色素细胞缺乏引起的,而农有穗的色素细胞缺乏只发生在眼部,全身其他地方都没有。”

卢林德推断,农有穗应该是习惯于在比较暗淡的光线下视物,暗适应更快一些,感光更加舒适,但是暗视力应该并没有增加。为了证实自己的判断,他安排农有穗去做视力检查。首先是明视力,结果农有穗的视力为1.0。然后,关掉光源,在完全黑暗的屋里检查暗视力,发现农有穗很难进行正常辨认。农有穗更习惯于在暗淡的光线下视物,且比常人的适应能力更强些,所以在黑暗环境下看东西的能力确实比常人要强。
posted by juifenasie at 10:07 AM on January 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


BTW, just to avoid confusion, Google's machine translation renders NONG Youhui's name as "farmers" or "agriculture" because his uncommon surname, 农 Nong, means "agriculture" or "farming. :-)

"Farmers have ear lively personality" = NONG YH has a lively personality

“Agriculture has always liked to spike usually dark corners” = NONG YH likes to go to dark places
posted by juifenasie at 10:17 AM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


He's probably a ghost. (my Chinese girlfriend has accused me of being a ghost due to my blue-green eyes and pale complexion. Apparently light eyes are kind of creepy if everybody you know has brown eyes)
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 11:12 AM on January 25, 2012


All I could think while watching that was, geez can't somebody get that kid some sunglasses?
posted by zennie at 12:18 PM on January 25, 2012


Regardless of the actual FPP video, this thread is full of some fantastic stuff. Thanks, Mefi.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 12:23 PM on January 25, 2012


The Whelk: "My mutant power is crippling depression!"

OMG! We're linked!
posted by Samizdata at 12:32 PM on January 25, 2012


« Older there ain't no arsenic in them thar hills   |   Raiders of the Lost Archetype Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post