Is X-Ray Vision Possible? Seeing through the Hype


Is X-ray vision possible? If you’ve ever watched superhero movies or read Superman comics, this is a question you want answered. Just like leaping tall buildings in a single bound or tossing cars like they are a child’s toys, X-ray sight seems an impossible feat—scientists have discovered, however, that it may be more than fiction.

A Technological Advantage

While you might not be getting an X-ray implant any time soon, technology is evolving to give smartphones and tablets this ability. By tapping into the terahertz band of the electromagnetic spectrum and using a complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS), researchers at the University of Texas have created a way to let smartphones peek behind walls. Installing this technology into mobile devices lets them peer through surfaces that are within four inches of their camera lens; the team sees this kind of X-ray vision as a viable way to authenticate documents or detect counterfeit money.

It’s also possible to gain a form of X-ray sight using special goggles. As described by Professor Michio Kaku, the U.S. government has developed a way to see through objects using what are known as “backscattered X-rays.” To make this technology work, you first need a small room and X-ray-emitting light bulb. When turned on, the bulb floods the room with X-rays, which in turn bounce or “scatter” off the walls. If you’re in the room wearing X-ray sensitive lenses, you’ll be able to see through any objects (or people) also inside.

A Biological Need

Researchers from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York and California Institute of Technology (Caltech), however, have also found evidence that humans have a form of natural X-ray vision. The finding comes from their study of animals with both front and side-facing eyes, and the differences in how these animals perceive the world. Many animals—cows, birds, fish, and reptiles, for example—live in environments that are “non-cluttered,” meaning they benefit from side-facing eyes, which lets them see both what’s in front and what’s behind. Humans, primates, and large jungle mammals, meanwhile, have eyes on the front of their heads, which allows them to see parts of the world simultaneously with both eyes. Called the binocular region, anywhere the eyes’ field of vision overlaps gives humans a kind of X-ray vision.

Test it by holding up a pen and then looking at something in the distance. You’ll see “through” the pen, because your binocular field of vision is large enough that both eyes see partially around the obstruction, leading to a see-through view. Close either eye, and the pen becomes solid. The argument here is for “clutter,” since in leafy or dense jungle environments, this kind of X-ray sight would be necessary for survival. Although humans no longer live in such environments, the ability persists.

While your X-ray vision may not be on par with Superman’s, the more accurate your eyesight is, the easier time you’ll have seeing “through” or behind objects. If glasses or contacts are getting in the way of your superpowers, consider laser vision correction from an industry leader like LASIK MD. Custom Wavefront LASIK procedures can offer clear vision and reduce or even eliminate the need for glasses and contacts. Nature gave you the power of X-ray; use it.

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