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In the eyes of musician Neil Harbisson, the entire world is a classic black-and-white film.

Not everyone who's colorblind sees the world in the same way. There are some people, for example, who just can't see the color green. But Neil Harbisson is one of only 30,000 people in the world born with achromatopsia, a unique form of colorblindness that renders your entire visual spectrum in grayscale. He's literally never seen color.

And while some colorblind folks have been able to use EnChroma glasses to see colors for the first time, Harbinsson's full grayscale colorblindness means those won't help him. But that didn't stop him from finding another way to experience colors, even if he can't see them.


Harbisson has found a way to hear color instead.

And he did so with the help of an antenna implanted in his head. (Yeahbutwhat?! — I don't think you understand how excited I am that I got to type that sentence.)

Neil Harbisson. Photo by Dan Wilton/The Red Bulletin via Wikimedia Commons

Harbisson installed the antenna back in 2004 using a process known as " osseointegration," meaning it's directly connected to the bone of his skull.

The antenna interprets color frequencies on the visible spectrum, then translates those light waves into sound waves Harbisson hears through bone conduction (that is, vibrations in the bones of the inner ear). And yes, "built-in skull speakers" are pretty much the most metal thing ever.

Each color has its own unique musical tone, which allows Harbisson to, for example, understand that the blue of the sky and the blue of someone's eyes are the same color — a relationship that he was otherwise unaware of when he was just seeing in grayscale. By using sound as a reference point, he can more easily connect the colors of two related objects and sonically recreate a visual portrait for himself.

As he explains in a short film by Greg Bukalla (embedded below):

GIFset via Greg Brunkalla/Vimeo.

Also, a fun fact: Since the UK doesn't allow electronic devices or cosmetic alterations to appear in government-issued IDs, Harbisson had to obtain special permission to include his antenna in his passport photo. Which means he's technically the world's first legally-recognized cyborg.

Neil Harbisson, discussing his own cyborg nature. Photo via Neil Harbisson/Flickr.

Of course, Harbisson isn't the only person who can hear colors.

While Harbisson's ability to hear colors is helped by technological means, people born with a condition called "synesthesia" naturally process certain sensory information through their other senses. It's estimated than one in every 2,000 people can taste color, or hear smells, or smell sounds, or have some other totally unique — and totally real — way of using their senses.

Just as Harbisson associates that G-sharp sound with car horns and limes, there are people for whom the word "speak" tastes like bacon, people whose mom and dad taste like ice cream and peas, respectively (and I mean that in the least creepy and cannibalistic way possible, and even people who learn constitutional amendments or math based on their colors.

While this might sound like pretty poetic imagery to others, for these individuals, this is how they actually perceive the world around them. That's the reality they live with — and it's no more or less accurate than yours or mine.

Neil Harbisson's first " Color-conducted Concert." Photo by PaulDter/Wikimedia Commons.

Different people see the world in different ways. And sometimes that difference is even more literal than we realize.

We've all been told before that we should try to see the world from other peoples' points of view. Usually we're talking about unique life experiences and how they shape or inform an individual perspective. And that's still a very important lesson.

But synesthetes and people like Neil Harbisson remind us to take a step back from that deep, metaphorical lesson and realize that even things as basic as tastes, sights, sounds, and other sensations aren't necessarily universal. It's easy for someone like me to take for granted that a lime is green and tastes like a lime. But for someone else, that lime is actually the color of a car horn or might taste like the Ten Commandments. Who's to say that either one is right or wrong?

Who knows? Maybe the world would be a better place if we all knew, like Neil Harbisson does, that every shade of human skin just sounds like a slightly different orange.

Here's a short documentary film about Neil Harbisson and his extraordinary antenna:

[vimeo_embed https://player.vimeo.com/video/118166526?color=ffffff&title=0&byline=0&portrait=0 expand=1]
Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.

Noe Hernandez and Maria Carrillo, the owners of Noel Barber Shop in Anaheim, California.

Jordyn Poulter was the youngest member of the U.S. women’s volleyball team, which took home the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics last year. She was named the best setter at the Tokyo games and has been a member of the team since 2018.

Unfortunately, according to a report from ABC 7 News, her gold medal was stolen from her car in a parking garage in Anaheim, California, on May 25.

It was taken along with her passport, which she kept in her glove compartment. While storing a gold medal in your car probably isn’t the best idea, she did it to keep it by her side while fulfilling the hectic schedule of an Olympian.

"We live this crazy life of living so many different places. So many of us play overseas, then go home, then come out here and train,” Poulter said, according to ABC 7. "So I keep the medal on me (to show) friends and family I haven't seen in a while, or just people in the community who want to see the medal. Everyone feels connected to it when they meet an Olympian, and it's such a cool thing to share with people."

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Hold on, Frankie! Mama's coming!

How do you explain motherhood in a nutshell? Thanks to Cait Oakley, who stopped a preying bald eagle from capturing her pet goose as she breastfed her daughter, we have it summed up in one gloriously hilarious TikTok.

The now viral video shows the family’s pet goose, Frankie, frantically squawking as it gets dragged off the porch by a bald eagle—likely another mom taking care of her own kiddos.

Wearing nothing but her husband’s boxers while holding on to her newborn, Willow, Oakley dashes out of the house and successfully comes to Frankie's rescue while yelling “hey, hey hey!”

The video’s caption revealed that the Oakleys had already lost three chickens due to hungry birds of prey, so nothing was going to stop “Mama bear” from protecting “sweet Frankie.” Not even a breastfeeding session.

Oakley told TODAY Parents, “It was just a split second reaction ...There was nowhere to put Willow down at that point.” Sometimes being a mom means feeding your child and saving your pet all at the same time.

As for how she feels about running around topless in her underwear on camera, Oakley declared, “I could have been naked and I’m like, ‘whatever, I’m feeding my baby.’”

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