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No. 117: May-June 1998

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Light Makes Bright

As revealed in SF#116, the backs of our knees are strangely sensitive to light. Illumination of these regions somehow encourages our pineal glands to release melatonin. D. Jones has suggested a more direct way in which light can reach the pineal gland -- through our ears!

The pineal gland, which is believed to be the relic of the third eye that our distant reptilian ancestors possessed, is now buried deeply in our brains. But, it is possible that light could reach it through the ears by diffusing through the soft, translucent tissues that lead into our skulls. A commercial opportunity arises here.

Jones notes first that melatonin is a mood enhancer and stimulant. We all have read how depressed far-northern peoples become during their long winter nights; and we know first-hand how exuberant we are on bright spring days. Why not, asks Jones, manufacture "earlights" mounted on headbands? These would direct red light (which diffuses better through tissue) into the ears and thence to the pineal gland. People could thereby be made cheerful and enthusiastic whatever the season, weather, or time of day. We could dispense with all those mood-enhancing pills.

(Jones, David; "The Seeing Ear," Nature, 391:541, 1998.)

From Science Frontiers #117, MAY-JUN 1998. � 1998-2000 William R. Corliss