Kingdom of Heaven

Pingelap is a small circular island in the Pacific, an atoll, forming part of the country of Micronesia. A portion of its residents live with a most intriguing and peculiar neurological condition: they are born without cone receptors, those microscopic photoreceptors in your eyes that enable you to see color—a condition called achromatopsia. Their vision is analogous to a black and white television screen: darker colors are seen as dark grey while lighter colors are seen as light grey. The circumstances of this condition extend beyond color: cones are responsible for seeing in daylight, but at night they are ineffective and hand the job over to the rods. Without cones to see in the daytime, the light sensitive rods take over, so squinting and wearing heavy dark sunglasses are a regular consequence for the people of.

There is a world hidden from the eyes of the people of Pingelap—one that, perhaps, even their imaginations cannot fully comprehend: for no memory of color has ever hued their thoughts, no shade of tint has ever dyed their imagination. Are we any different? The universe is all there is, and every species living in it experiences only a portion of it. The world we experience is one written by our senses, and our senses reveal only a portion of it. We remain ignorant of things hidden beyond our sensory experience. The German biologist Jakob von Uexküll called the partial world in which a species lives the umwelt. Continue Reading…

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