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9 Extraordinary Human Abilities

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by Tempyra This list of extraordinary human abilities was inspired The Top 10 Tips to Improve Your Memory when I began thinking about how some people are blessed (or cursed, depending on your point of view) with the ability to recall a scene as if they were looking at a photograph. And how other people can recreate music from memory, such as Mozarts famed reproduction of Gregorio Allegris Miserere after one hearing. What other extraordinary abilities might humans have? Ive listed nine of the most well understood (i.e. not paranormal or fringe science) and interesting abilities rated from most common to most interesting and rare. Bear in mind that most of these unusual abilities are genetic and cannot be controlled by the person affected but are an inherent quality of their physical self. Read more here about human senses. 9
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Supertasters

People who experience taste with greater intensity than the rest of the population are called supertasters. Having extra fungiform papillae (the mushroom shaped bumps on the tongue that are covered in taste buds) is thought to be the reason why these people have a stronger response to the sensation of taste. Of the five types of taste, sweet, salty, bitter, sour, and umami, a supertaster generally finds bitterness to be the most perceptible. Scientists first noticed the differing abilities of people to taste a known compound when a DuPont chemist called Arthur Fox asked people to taste Phenylthiocarbamide (PTC). Some people could taste its bitterness; some couldnt whether people could depended on their genetic make-up (a variant of this test is now one of the most common genetic tests on humans). While about 70% of people can taste PTC, two thirds of them are rated as medium and only one third (approximately 25% of the wider population) are supertasters. Supertasters will often dislike certain foods, particularly bitter ones, such as brussel sprouts, cabbage, coffee, and grapefruit juice. Women, Asians, and Africans are most likely to have the increased number of fungiform papillae that make them supertasters. 8 Absolute pitch

People with absolute pitch are capable of identifying and reproducing a tone without needing a known reference. It is not
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simply a better ability to hear but the ability to mentally class sounds into remembered categories. Examples of this include identifying the pitch of everyday noises (e.g. horns, sirens, and engines), being able to sing a named note without hearing a reference, naming the tones of a chord, or naming the key signature of a song. Doing any of these is a cognitive act it requires one to remember the frequency of each tone, be able to label it (e.g. A, C#, or F-flat), and sufficient exposure to the range of sound within each label. Opinions vary as to whether absolute pitch is genetic or a learned ability that is strongly influenced to ones exposure to music at crucial developmental stages much like how a childs ability to identify colors by their frequency depends on the type and level of their exposure to it. Estimates of the portion of the population having absolute pitch range from 3% of the general population in the US and Europe to 8% of those (from the same areas) who are semi-professional or professional musicians. In music conservatories in Japan however, about 70% of musicians have absolute pitch. Part of the reason for this significantly larger percentage may be because absolute pitch is more common among people who grew up in a tonal (Mandarin, Cantonese, and Vietnamese) or pitch accent (Japanese) language environment. Absolute pitch is also more common in those who are blind from birth, have Williams Syndrome, or have an autism spectrum disorder. 7 Tetrachromacy

Tetrachromacy is the ability to see light from four distinct sources. An example of this in the animal kingdom is the zebrafish (Danio rerio), which can see light from the red, green, blue, and ultraviolet sections of the light spectrum. True tetrachromacy in humans is much rarer however according to Wikipedia only two possible tetrachromats have been identified. Humans are normally trichromats, having three types of cone cells that receive light from either the red, green, or blue part of the light spectrum. Each cone can pick up about 100 graduations of color and the brain combines colors and graduations so that there are about 1 million distinguishable hues coloring your world. A true tetrachromat with an extra type of cone between red and green (in the orange range) would, theoretically, be able to perceive 100 million colors. Like supertasting, tetrachromacy is thought to be much more common in women than men estimates range from 2 3% to 50% of women. Interestingly, colour-blindness in men (much more common than in women) may be inherited from women with tetrachromacy. 6 Echolocation

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Echolocation is how bats fly around in dark forests they emit a sound, wait for the echo to return, and use that sound of the echo in each ear plus the return time to work out where an object is and how far away. Surprisingly (well, maybe not on this list!), humans are also capable of using echolocation. Use of echolocation is probably restricted to blind people because it takes a long time to master and heightened sensitivity to reflected sound. To navigate via echolocation a person actively creates a noise (e.g. tapping a cane or clicking the tongue) and determines from the echoes where objects are located around them. People skilled at this can often tell where an object is, what size it is, and its density. Because humans cannot make or hear the higher pitched frequencies that bats and dolphins use they can only picture objects that are comparatively larger than those seen by echolocating animals. People with the ability to echolocate include James Holman, Daniel Kish, and Ben Underwood. Perhaps the most remarkable and well-documented of cases is the story of Ben Underwood, who lost both his eyes to retinal cancer at the age of three. He is shown in the video above (warning: the scene where he puts in his prosthetic eyeballs may be a bit disturbing for some).

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5 Genetic Chimerism

In the Iliad Homer described a creature having body parts from different animals, a chimera, from this mythological monster comes the name of the genetic equivalent chimerism. Genetic chimerism, or tetragametism, in humans and other animals happens when two fertilized eggs or embryos fuse together early in pregnancy. Each zygote carries a copy of its parents DNA and thus a distinct genetic profile. When these merge, each population of cells retains its genetic character and the resulting embryo becomes a mixture of both. Essentially, a human chimera is their own twin. Chimerism in humans is very rare; Wikipedia states that there are only about 40 reported cases. DNA testing is often used to establish whether a person is biologically related to their parents or children and can uncover cases of chimerism when DNA results show that children are not biologically related to their mothers because the child inherited a different DNA profile to the one shown by a blood test. This is what happened in the case of Lydia Fairchild: DNA tests of herself and her children led the state to think that she was not actually their mother. People born with chimerism typically have immune systems that make them tolerant to both genetically distinct populations of cells in their body. This means that a chimera has a much wider array of people to choose from should they need an organ transplant. 4 Synesthesia

Imagine consistently associating numbers or letters with certain colours, or hearing a specific word which triggers a particular sensation of taste on your tongue. These are two forms of a neurological condition called synesthesia. Synesthesia is when stimulation of a particular sensory or cognitive pathway leads to an involuntary (i.e. synesthesia is not learnt) response in other sensory or cognitive pathways.
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Synesthesia is most often genetic and the grapheme (letters, numbers, or other symbols) to colour form of synesthesia is the commonest. Other synesthetes can experience special-sequence synesthesia (e.g. where dates have a precise location in space), ordinal linguistic personification (when numbers have personalities), or sound to colour synesthesia (where tones are perceived as colours). Although synesthesia is a neurological condition it shouldnt be thought of as a disorder, because generally it does not interfere with a persons ability to function. Most people are not even aware that their experiences of life elicit more sensory responses than other peoples might and the ones that are rarely consider synesthesia to have a negative impact on their lives. Predictions of the percentage of people with synesthesia vary widely, from 1 in 20 to 1 in 20,000. Studies from 2005 and 2006, using a random population sample, suggested 1 in about 23 people have synesthesia. Examples of people with synesthesia include the author Vladimir Nabokov, composer Olivier Messiaen, and scientist Richard Feynman. Daniel Tammet, who is mentioned in the next section of this list, is a synesthete (in addition to being a mental calculator) who sees numbers with shapes and texture. 3 Mental calculators

The most extraordinary group of people adept at performing complex mental calculations is those who are also autistic savants. While there are many trained people who can work out multiplications of large numbers (among other calculations) in their head extremely fast mostly mathematicians, writers, and linguists the untrained ability of autistic savants is the most interesting. The majority of these people are born with savant syndrome (only an estimated 50% of people with savantism are also autistic), which is still poorly understood, few develop it later in life, usually due to a head injury. There are less than 100 recognised prodigious savants in the world and of the savants with autism who are capable of using mental calculation techniques there are even less. Recent research has suggested that a blood flow to the part of the brain responsible for mathematical calculations of six to seven times the normal rate is one of the factors that enables mental calculators to work out math much faster than the average person. Examples of people with extraordinary calculation skills include Daniel McCartney, Salo Finkelstein, and Alexander Aitken. Daniel Tammet is one of few who are also autistic savants. 2 Eidetic memory

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When a person has photographic memory or total recall this is called eidetic memory. It is the ability to recall sounds, images, or objects from ones memory with extreme accuracy. Examples of eidetic memory include the effort of Akira Haraguchi who recited from memory the first 100,000 decimal places of pi and the drawings of Stephen Wiltshire (who is also an autistic savant) his recreation of Rome is shown in the video above. Kim Peek, the inspiration for the autistic (Peek is not actually autistic though) character of Raymond Babbit in the movie Rainman, also possesses eidetic memory among other things he can recall some 12,000 books from memory. Whether true photographic memory exists in adults is still a controversial issue, but it is accepted that eidetic abilities are distributed evenly between men and women. One also cannot become an eidetiker through practice. 1 Immortal cells

There is only one known case of a person having immortal cells (cells that can divide indefinitely outside of the human body, defying the Hayflick Limit) and that is of a woman named Henrietta Lacks. In 1951, 31 year old Henrietta Lacks was diagnosed with cervical cancer, which she died from within the year. Unknown to her and her family (i.e. without
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informed consent) a surgeon took a tissue sample from her tumor that was passed on to a Dr. George Gey. A scientist for the John Hopkins University Tissue Culture Laboratory, Gey propagated Lacks tissue sample into an immortal cell line the HeLa cell line (pictured above). The cells from Lacks tumour have an active version of the telomerase enzyme (telomerase is the mechanism by which cells age or are aged) and proliferate abnormally fast. On the day of Henrietta Lacks death, Dr. Gey announced to the world that a new age in medical research had begun one that might provide a cure for cancer. HeLa cells were utilised in 1954 by Jonas Salk to develop the cure for polio. Since then theyve been used in researching cancer, AIDS, the effects of radiation and toxic substances, and for mapping genes, among other things. Today, the HeLa cells are so common in laboratories that they contaminate many other cell cultures and have rendered some biological studies invalid through their presence. There are also more HeLa cells alive today than when Henrietta Lacks was alive they outweigh her physical mass by many times. Tragically, Lacks was never told of the immensely valuable contribution her cells made to science and her family was not informed until many years later that her cells were being used for research purposes (a 1990 court ruling later verified Lacks hospital as the owner of her discarded tissue and cells). I highly recommend reading this story for a better picture of Henrietta Lacks life and the consequences of her cancer. Like this list? Share it with friends, or :
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Comments (422)
Sort by: Date Rating Last Activity peter8172 less than 1 minute ago Now that......is a fascinating list !!!........Bar none....... Reply 0

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kittym 223 weeks ago

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I'm a supertaster! I remember tasting strips of paper in biology and being one of the ones that could taste the bitterness. I never knew what that meant until this list. Excellent topic and good list!! Reply

Mom424 223 weeks ago

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Tempyra: Way excellent list. I love the way you have explained all the terms; it makes it much more enjoyable when you don't have to stop and look up technical words and phrases. Great job! Did you read anything during your research about folks whose sense of smell is ridiculously sensitive? I'm wondering because my sense of smell is about a 1000 times better than anyone in my family. The second I walk into a house I can tell if they rinse their dishcloth, clean under their sink etc... Reply

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warrrreagl 223 weeks ago Yay, I have absolute pitch. Do I get my own X-Man comic now? Reply

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kittym 223 weeks ago Now I have a reason to dislike grapefruit juice and cabbage. Bleck! Reply

BaltasBarsukas 223 weeks ago Great list , I'd love to have synesthesia. Reply 4 replies active 65 weeks ago

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fivestring63 223 weeks ago

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OK when I saw the title, I was thinking the #1 would be like the human brain, being able to reason. Guess I was off base some. Reply

Tempyra 223 weeks ago

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kittym, warrrreagl: You lucky things :-). I'm a supertaster too, but I love grapefruit juice. Absolute pitch is something I'd love to have. Mom424: I thought about including that but I didn't find much information about it. Isn't most of your sense of smell related to your sense of taste anyway? Or is it the other way around? Reply 1 reply active 115 weeks ago 0

Tempyra 223 weeks ago

Mom424: This was the only thing I found on Wikipedia (my source of quick info hehe) about having an acute sense of smell: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyperosmia Reply 1 reply active 115 weeks ago +5

astraya 223 weeks ago

Gosh this is interesting. I wish I had way more time to explore this. Learning piano from a reasonably early age, studying it to university level, working as a music teacher and singing in choirs for over 20 year, I developed what I call "memorised pitch". I could name or reproduce a note, but with any function of memory, it was susceptible to tiredness or stress. It has faded somewhat with my almost complete lack of singing in Korea. I sang in a choir next to a man who had an extraordinarily acute sense of pitch distinction - he can "divide the cracks" (sing the pitches that fall between the notes of the piano (so can I, but I don't mean to!)) - but he didn't have perfect pitch, he couldn't name or
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reproduce a given note. Perfect pitch is actually a handicap when it comes to transposing - singing music in a different key. I'm seeing one note, but singing another. Sometimes I don't have to be looking at the music. I sang "Bridge over troubled water" one night at the karaoke. Because it's too high for my voice, I asked them to transpose it down. I was singing in D flat major, but remembering E flat major. I had to consciously think about every note, rather than just singing it. I would be interested in Jamie's experiences about this, given his background in music. Reply 3 replies active 118 weeks ago +1

astraya 223 weeks ago

BTW Mendelssohn also transcribed Allegri's Miserere from memory, but he was a young man at the time, so it is rarely commented on. Reply

ciunas 223 weeks ago

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Thank you: fascinating, informative list. Apart from the stuff about autistic savants, synaesthesia & eidetic memory it was all new to me. Yes, I'd have been interested in hearing about supersmellers too, as well as supertasters. I'm sure the ability exists. I know a couple of women who can detect odours that are imperceptible to me, so perhaps it's primarily a female thing, like one or 2 of the other abilities. Not to carp but I couldnt quite follow your account of tetrachromacy. You say only 2 possible cases have been identified, & you then say the ability is thought to be much commoner in women than men. Reply

Tempyra 223 weeks ago

astraya: I didn't know that about Mendelssohn. Between Dan Brown, Mozart, and Mendelssohn it seems the secrets of the Vatican are rarely safe :-D. Wow, you have a lot of musical experience! I'm jealous. My sense of pitch is almost non-existent. My music teacher once promised she'd throw me a party if I could sing three notes in tune... I did it ONCE and got my party, but have never consciously managed it since then. I play the violin but my 'ear' is so shocking that I rely almost exclusively on the memory of what the correct note feels like under my fingers to tell whether something is in tune or not. Reply

Tempyra 223 weeks ago

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ciunas: I'm sorry that part was unclear :-(. The 2 possible cases I mentioned were of true tetrachromacy, where the extra type of cone falls exactly between the red and green types. It's more common in women to have an extra cone type that is close to either red or green - giving them the ability to see more hues, but not the full range that one would have if the extra cone was precisely halfway between red and green. Does that make sense? I'm not an expert on this at all, just read about it in a few places and thought it was pretty cool :-) Reply

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Tempyra 223 weeks ago There is more information about tetrachromacy here:http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/06256/721190-114.s...

I used some of the information here in the section on tetrachromacy because it was easy to understand and not too technical. Reply

astraya 223 weeks ago

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Although Allegri's Miserere clocks in at about (?)8 minutes, it really is the same three sections over and over, with one concluding section. One of the three sections is in unison (everyone singing the same melody) and the other two are sparsely voiced. Muscle memory plays a large part in many musical instruments. On a piano, when the two hands are close in, you can see them, but when they are widely separately, you can't. Pitch-wise, a piano is easier - either it's the right note or it's not. On a violin, you get 1000 notes in between. I'm going to stick my neck out to say that Mendelssohn was a greater prodigy than Mozart. The string octet and the Midsummer Night's Dream overture way outclass anything Mozart produced at a comparable age. Reply

Lusus 223 weeks ago

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Another amazing ability I recall hearing about, I don't remember when but it was some years ago. There was a woman who could hear perfectly even the quietest whisper from the length of a football pitch. Reply

Tempyra 223 weeks ago

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astraya: Interesting what you say about muscle memory regarding the piano - I've noticed before (in the good old days when I had a piano) that pieces were easier to memorise if both hands were close together, but I just assumed it was because I could see them. Mendelssohn was 17 or so when he wrote the two pieces you mention? My favourite piece of his to play (piano) is the Funeral March from the fifth book of Lieder ohne Worte, dunno why :-) Reply

Rusty 223 weeks ago

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These things were way fascinating to me as a student of psychology way back. I remember reading particularly about the work of Dr Harold Gardner whose speciality was studying brain damage and savant abilities and the varieties of intelligences that we all have. These rare cases may point to where we as a species may all one day progress... Reply

Tempyra 223 weeks ago Lusus: Cool, I'd definitely like to find out more about that :-) Reply

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Ghidoran 223 weeks ago Is it true bind people have better hearing, smelling etc. than others? Reply

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Tempyra 223 weeks ago

Ghidoran: I am not entirely sure. A blind person might have a better-than-average sense but it would be hard to tell if they would have been that way even if they weren't blind (like if it were genetic). Others might simply be more aware of their other senses because they rely on them more often. Reply

astraya 223 weeks ago Tempyra: Mendelssohn was 16 when he wrote the octet and 17 when he wrote the overture. Reply

WarningDontReadThis 223 weeks ago Great list Tempyra, I really enjoyed reading it. And I was just wondering, can anyone tell me what the difference between savantism and autism is? Reply 1 reply active 104 weeks ago

houkama 223 weeks ago The 2 is firecoloured. The 4 is blue and has a veil. The 6 is ochre, butter - and a fat monk. Well, at least for me^^ Thanks for the list! Reply

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Tempyra 223 weeks ago WarningDontReadThis: Thanks :-).

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Hmmm... a savant is a person who is extraordinarily knowledgeable in a particular field. Savantism (or savant syndrome) is when a person who has one of the autism spectrum disorders (there are I think, five developmental disorders within the autism spectrum, one of which is autism) excells in an area that contrasts with the limits imposed on them by their disorder. So for example, someone with autism to the extent that they cannot communicate with others may be a autistic savant if they show remarkable ability in say music, or math. That's my simplistic explanation; someone else may have a better one. Reply

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Elsa 223 weeks ago Nice list. I now have a word for what has always seemed normal to me.I "taste" words. Not all words, mainly descriptive words or nouns. I can say, read, hear, see or think a word and it has a taste in my mouth. It's great for words like popcorn (sometimes I can smell as well, but not always) but really sucks for other words. Blood is really unpleasant. I've always assumed it was just a strong memory based response, but I've tasted some words that I have no way of describing the taste, because it's something I've never experienced before.I've never had passionfruit, but when it comes into my mind, I get a slightly sweet, smooth taste but with just enough tart to make saliva at the corners of the back of my throat. Maybe I just have a very active imagination Reply

WarningDontReadThis 223 weeks ago

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Tempyra: It would be nice to learn more about it, but I don't always get what wikipedia says (maybe I'm the only one who thinks wiki is a bit messy sometimes :P ). Reply

WarningDontReadThis 223 weeks ago What the hell is the girl in the first picture eating? Looks like a worm..(?) Reply 1 reply active 117 weeks ago

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Elsa 223 weeks ago

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P.S. I also assumed everyone "tasted" words until I discussed it one night with siblings and found out I was the odd bird........ go figure Reply

jfrater 223 weeks ago WarningDontReadThis: i am guessing she is eating a curly fry - I can't think of anything else it might be :) Reply

Tempyra 223 weeks ago

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houkama, Elsa: both of your comments are very interesting! Such specific descriptions of what you sense are really cool. From what I read when I was researching this list, lots of the people who have synesthesia don't even realise until they happen to compare their perceptions with others. WarningDontReadThis: I have no idea what that orange thing is either... I assume JFrater picked it. Maybe he can tell us :-p Reply

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Splangy 223 weeks ago Brilliant list.

I read a book on Daniel Tammet. Born on a Blue Day I think it was called. Very good read. He could learn languages at an unbelievable speed. For a TV show in Iceland he learned Icelandic to a level where he was able to have a conversation with someone on the television show. It took him one week. His parents didn't find out he was an autistic savant for quite some time as it is hard to find the signs. The lack of social skills commonly associated with autism was quite troubling when he was growing up as he didn't realize he was autistic. He would often touch classmates and their clothes as it 'felt nice', leading him to be labeled strange. I'm fascinated by synesthesia. BBC's Horizon did a very good show on it about a year ago. Showed some extraordinary cases of it, with what I remember, all of them being positive Reply

Kish 223 weeks ago

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By far one of my favorite lists! Some of this stuff is so amazing its really hard to believe that everyday people have gifts such as these. Reply

Tempyra 223 weeks ago Oh, my smartarse comment was beaten by a minute LOL. What is a curly fry? Reply

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alextenn 223 weeks ago Slight correction: In 8, there isn't really an F-Flat. The note that is one half step below F is E. F-flat doesnt exist. Not a huge deal, just thought I would point it out. Good list though. Reply 1 reply active 123 weeks ago

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Tempyra 223 weeks ago alextenn: Yeah that was me being silly. F-flat is E and I wanted A, C#, and E to make a major chord :-P Reply

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vesselman 223 weeks ago "Immortal" cell lines from human sources are very commonly used in research labs. These cells are "transformed" and dedifferentiated i.e. cancer cells. I don't consider this an "extrordinary human ability". Reply
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kowzilla 223 weeks ago Excellent list, very well researched.

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I actually have synesthesia but did not learn of it until just a few years ago. It was exactly as you say "Most people are not even aware that their experiences of life elicit more sensory responses than other people..." I view dates spatially. Simply put, I have a mental image of time. I have distinct shapes for all of time, this year and this week. All of time is shaped like a string along the ground with lots of curves and turns (usually located at a significant point like the beginning of a new century or even the year I was born). This year is a bit like a backwards "N" with the summer months being the diagonal and the months before and after the summer being the sides. This week is like a "D" with the weekend being the straight side and the work week being the curve. I had actually read about some cases of synesthesia before I learned of my condition and I remember thinking "Wow! It would be so cool to see the world like that!" Reply 1 reply active 33 weeks ago +1

jfrater 223 weeks ago alextenn: that is not a correction - f-flat IS a real note - you can read about it here:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F-flat_major There is also a C flat:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C-flat_major (which you would call B). Reply

jfrater 223 weeks ago

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Oh - Cb occurs in the keys of Gb Major, Eb Minor, and Cb Major and Ab Minor, and Fb occurs in the keys of Cb Major and Ab Minor :) Look at this image - it includes a C and F flat in the key signature:http://z.about.com/d/piano/1/0/p/1/-/-/CFlatMajor... Reply

robneiderman 223 weeks ago

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Wow, never heard of umami before. Had to look that one up. Now I want to go out and taste something umami. Maybe it's my head cold to blame (sniffle), but I was WAY confused by genetic chimerism. It's a person with cells from mom and cells from dad, but no cells with DNA from both together? Reply

WarningDontReadThis 223 weeks ago Tempyra: I don't know, but it can't be good. Reply

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Hey there 223 weeks ago Where is "Tolerance"? Reply

Tempyra 223 weeks ago

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jfrater: A + C# + F-flat isn't really a chord is it? You have to actually call it E for the chord to be an A major because there is a subtle difference between an E natural and a F-flat? Reply

Island Boggs 223 weeks ago I had to look up umami... Reply

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mofleminator 223 weeks ago probably one of the most interesting lists on here Reply

warrrreagl 223 weeks ago

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Any three notes sounding simultaneously make up a chord, so yes it is a chord. The question is which one, and that depends on how you plan on analyzing it. There are plenty of instances (depending on key and mode) where the F-flat is preferable to the composer instead of an E-natural. It just depends on which chord preceded it, which chord follows, whether or not the F-flat is part of a nonharmonic sequence, whether or not a key change or mode change is imminent, etc. Reply

odenia sphere 223 weeks ago

j rafter is right. It depends on the key sig. Depending on you key, there will be appropriate flats, sharps, even double flats and sharps to make it work. Its confusing i know, and its hard to explain but thats the rules i guess. Like if i'm in a F sharp key sig, and i'm writing a scale F# G# A# B C# D# E# F#.. now, I have to write F natural as E# or else the scale isn't consecutive and they'll be two F's written in. I don't think they were refering to a A chord when they said a c# and fb. read the sentence again, its just using them as seperate examples of being able to label seperate pitches. its just a coincidence they happen to make an a major chord. Reply

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segue 223 weeks ago Tempyra, this is a wonderful List! It's exactly the kind of thing I spend my time reading about for the sheer pleasure of knowledge, so I knew most of these, but I have to say that your explanations are beautifully done! You've managed to add bits of information I didn't know to items I did know quite a bit about, so I had the greatest of pleasures from your hard work. Congratulations! I have some of these conditions, and one not listed. *I had eidetic memory. It used to be quite strong, but after almost 11 years on opiates it seems to be a sort of faded ghost of what it was. *Mental Calculator. Yeah. Mine was limited to photographic calculations (based on film speed, light conditions, desired results, looking at a test strip I could tell, within 31/2 sec's how long to process the film) and primes. Again, faded for the same reason. Luckily, there are ways around this one. *The one not on the list...kind of like Supertasters, I have the ability to see a much, *MUCH* wider range of colors than the average person. All kind of handy, but none of them made me rich. Reply

SocialButterfly 223 weeks ago Very cool list Tempyra, well done! Reply

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dangorironhide 223 weeks ago Nice list, really interesting. I could really do with having perfect pitch, mine is all over the place.

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Having Fb instead of E seems unnecessary to me, it's just going to confuse people. Fb confuses the hell out of me sometimes, especially when I'm playing & I get 'E-E-Fb-Fb'. Reply

Kreachure 223 weeks ago Awesome list! I want to have them all!!! :D PS. #9 looks like onion rings to me... Reply

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Aaron 223 weeks ago

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Awesome list. I wonder, is there any thing like a super smeller? Because I can smell cucumber and celery from across the room and I have an incredibly strong sense of smell. Reply

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Tempyra 223 weeks ago segue, SocialButterfly, dangorironhide, Kreachure: Glad you all enjoyed this list :-). I have a funny feeling there's going to be person after person pointing out that F-flat isn't a 'real' note... *sigh*. Dangorironhide, you're probably right and I should've just used a different example instead of 'twisting' F into an F-flat to satisfy my OCD-like need for a pattern :-D Reply

Tempyra 223 weeks ago Aaron: The closest thing I could find to 'super smelling' was this, Hyperosmia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyperosmia (It's a Wikipedia article, a not-particularly-good one sorry) Reply

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Kreachure 223 weeks ago

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Um, the Tetrachromacy item seems a little confusing to me. First it says that only two human tetrachromats have been identified, but then you say that it's possible that 2-3% or even 50% of women have tetrachromacy? That's wrong, actually (or at least easy to misinterpret). The studies you mention (cited by Wikipedia) are about the possibility of having the fourth type of cone which would give tetrachromacy; but it turns out that it doesn't :P . Reply

Tempyra 223 weeks ago

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Kreachure: I guess the distinction between tetrachromacy (having four types of cones) and being a true tetrachromat could have been made a bit clearer... Sorry, I'm not entirely sure what you're saying with your last paragraph. Do you mean that having a fourth type of cone doesn't = tetrachromacy? Reply

Kreachure 223 weeks ago

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Tempyra: That's correct, fourth cone does not = "true" tetrachromacy. But you knew that already! :D I just didn't understand it clearly in your entry. Sorry. The Wikipedia article mentions the 50% study precisely to clarify that the presence of the fourth cone doesn't necessarily mean having the ("true") tetrachromacy ability. Otherwise, 50% of women would indeed be able to see more colors (which is what I understood from the last paragraph of your tetrachromacy item! :P ). Reply

Tempyra 223 weeks ago

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robneiderman: You could think of chimerism very basically as two genetically distinct twins merging together at a very early stage of pregnancy into one embryo. Like cutting two pictures into jigsaw pieces following the same pattern and recombining them into one puzzle - here's an example of this analogy: http://myloveforyou.typepad.com/photos/uncategori... Reply 1 reply active 24 weeks ago 0

segue 223 weeks ago

**** 17. Tempyra - June 28th astraya: Interesting what you say about muscle memory regarding the piano **** Actually, muscle memory is how musicians, athletes, *anyone* who does a repetitive movement long enough, knows how to do what they do. Of course, that is an extremely simplistic example of muscle memory, but it's exactly how it works. The part of the brain which controls the muscles doing the particular movements actually change. Very cool. Reply

Tempyra 223 weeks ago

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Kreachure: Haha, ok this reminds me quite strongly of something that happened earlier today - I started a discussion (about renovating a house) and made some assertions which the other person disagreed with, we debated the details, and then concluded with him quoting my assertions back to me as his! Reply

Vera Lynn 223 weeks ago

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16 Lusus I have incredible hearing. People are always surprised by what I hear. I can hear frequency changes that no one else can, sometimes almost painful. Even if the sound is off, I can "hear" the channel change. 18 Rusty Dr. Harold Gardner. Was he the man who wrote "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat?" I keep buying it and lending it out, so I don't have a copy here. Fascinating read, BTW. 34 Tempyra "What is a curly fry" Are you kidding? 38 Kowzilla I think about time like that,too. Doesn't everyone? It just seems right. Reply

Tempyra 223 weeks ago Vera Lynn: No, I'm not kidding!! Please tell me what the hell a curly fry is?

Ooooh what you said about hearing channel changes reminds me of something else I've been meaning to ask people about!! Like you say, people can hear the *flicky* sound of the TV channel being changed with the sound off - but do other people hear that sort of high-pitched/weird sound that CRT TVS make? It gets more intense as I get closer to it and I can tell straight away when someone turns off the TV, because the noise stops. It's kinda painful too, I get a headache at first and then nauseous. What is it? Does anyone know?
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Vera Lynn 223 weeks ago #2 Wiltshire is amazing. I cannot draw at all so I am really impressed.

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#6 Ben Underwood I saw a special on him once. Blew me away! Wish I had a copy of it. Cannot even remember what channel. Reply

Vera Lynn 223 weeks ago

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Tempyra It a potato. It is cut with a special tool that makes it look like a round pencil shaving. Then fried like a French fry. Usually seasoned. Very yummy. Reply

Kreachure 223 weeks ago LMAO! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curly_fries XD Reply

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Kreachure 223 weeks ago

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Tempyra: You may know a lot about extraordinary humans, but it seems you're missing a bit of knowledge about ordinary human things! :D :D :D Reply

Tempyra 223 weeks ago Hehe... it's on Wikipedia :-D Thanks guys! They looks pretty unhealthy... but yummy! What the girl in the pic for #9 has, looks like a cross between a curly fry and an orange segment to me. Weird. Reply

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WarningDontReadThis 223 weeks ago I live in Norway, Reply

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Tempyra 223 weeks ago LOL! I've seriously never seen those things anywhere in New Zealand OR Australia. Who wants to pay for my future world tour to experience the wonder of these curly fry things? :-D Reply

WarningDontReadThis 223 weeks ago what I was GOING TO SAY **was:

I live in Norway and the only time I've heard of a curly fry was on the Jamie Oliver show where he went around trying to make kids eat stuff that was good for them. Reply

WarningDontReadThis 223 weeks ago The curly fry dosn't look like it tastes that good .. :P Reply

Tempyra 223 weeks ago WarningDontReadThis: These curly fry things must be an English/American oddity then :-D Reply

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WarningDontReadThis 223 weeks ago Tempyra: I think it is. Good for me, I'd probably like it cause I like everything that dosnt actully exist in nature. Reply

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Kreachure 223 weeks ago

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Tempyra: I can hear that TV noise too! And not only that 'whoomp'-ish sound when you change the channel! I'm certainly able to notice when a TV is on or off because of the noise! In fact, I had to get rid of a new TV I bought because I kept hearing an annoying hum all the time that no one else heard! It's probably a variety of Electronic noise , but I'm not an expert on that so... Does this mean that we have extraordinary human abilities too? :D Reply

Tempyra 223 weeks ago

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I'm special!! Yay... Kreachure and Vera Lynn are special too :-D Reply

Vera Lynn 223 weeks ago This is a great list. Very interesting.

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Tempyra I once heard a conversation from 100 paces. It was about our boss. I told them later I had heard every word and related their conversation back to them. They were quite surprised to say the least. That's another thing I have that annoys people. I remember verbatim what people say. Sometimes people don't like to be reminded of their exact words. I can also remember where on a page I read something. Top, botton, left, right. Makes studying for tests easy. Also, many times I cannot recall if I saw something, like a movie, or read it in a book. I retain the story line the same way.I confuse myself. I'll be telling someone about a movie I saw,and then I learn it was really something I read. Reply

Vera Lynn 223 weeks ago We are all special. We all have our "quirks" Makes life and people interesting. That's why is fun meeting new people. Reply

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Vera Lynn 223 weeks ago "it is" Reply

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Kreachure 223 weeks ago Well, it's more of a flicky-whoop sound... "wheep" maybe? :P It's hard to describe, okay? Geez... Reply

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Aaron 223 weeks ago

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I.. have.. synthesthesia. It's not like going through a range of tastes while reading a dictionary but more like when you least expect it a word will taste. eg. earwax brings a bitter, waxy taste to the mouth, even though i've never tasted it. Hmm... Reply

Blogball 223 weeks ago Great list Tempyra, here is a link for you http://www.ncstatefair.org/2007a/Competitions/web... Reply

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segue 223 weeks ago **** #58. Kreachure *Tempyra: Thats correct, fourth cone does not = true tetrachromacy.

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The Wikipedia article mentions the 50% study precisely to clarify that the presence of the fourth cone doesnt necessarily mean having the (true) tetrachromacy ability. **** Kreachure: So, is tetrachromacy ( which I've never come across is all of my reading on Neurological syndromes, abilities and disabilities) the name of my ability to see colors in such remarkable detail? Huh. I had no clue. I'm going to have to study up on this! **** #62. Vera Lynn *18 Rusty Dr. Harold Gardner. Was he the man who wrote The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat? **** That would be Oliver Sacks. A great Neurologist. He also wrote Awakenings, A Leg to Stand On, The Island of the Colorblind, An Anthropologist on Mars, Migraine among others. Fabulous writer. He wrote extensively on Stephen Whiltshire. Reply

WarningDontReadThis 223 weeks ago Stephen Wiltshire is amazing, I saw a documentary about him and he is really talented. And in the documentary he seemed normal, does that mean he was "cured" of his autism? Or is that not possible? Reply

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Kreachure 223 weeks ago Vera Lynn said: "We are all special. We all have our quirks Makes life and people interesting. Thats why is fun meeting new people." Very nice and very true words. ... But to quote The Incredibles movie: "Everybody's special, Dash." "Which is another way of saying nobody is!" Get it? Now I totally butchered your comment! Sorry! :D Reply

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Tempyra 223 weeks ago

I am going to call the TV channel-changing noise a 'fleeek' type of sound and the continuous CRT TV 'on' noise a 'eeeeeeerrrh' sound :-D
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Blogball: that is cool! Strange that I've never come across curly fries anywhere. Wow, Vera Lynn, you've got great hearing! Reply

tassadar 223 weeks ago

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Eidetic memory is scary, i mean, how is it possible? Imagine the true abilities of the human brain, these people are some kind of a prototype. Reply

Tempyra 223 weeks ago

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segue: To find out if you are tetrachromatic you could go to an optometrist and ask them to administer a test like the one in this article: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/06256/721190-114.s... "To single out such women, she came up with a clever test. Each woman looks into an optical device that shows her three tiny discs in rapid succession. Two of the discs are a pure orange wavelength and the third is a nearly identical mixture of red and green. The women aren't told which is which." I don't know if your average optometrist would be able to do that, might it might be worth a shot to satisfy your curiosity? Reply

warrrreagl 223 weeks ago

Tempyra, don't you dare apologize for or regret using F-flat. It is every bit of a "legitimate" note as any of them, and I, for one, was highly impressed that you used it. To deny F-flat would be to deny Stravinsky's famous "petrushka chord," Schoenberg's retrograde inversions, and most of the rest of 20th century harmony from Scriabin to Phillip Glass. Reply

Tempyra 223 weeks ago "might it might" should be "but it might" ... sorry. Reply

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Kreachure 223 weeks ago Tempyra: Do not worry. Trying to explain the extraordinary things we can sense to these puny humans is pointless! :P Reply

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Tempyra 223 weeks ago

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warrrreagl: Wow, I had to google nearly everything in your last paragraph! But now I consider its inclusion validated, thanks :-) Reply

newsong 223 weeks ago

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I am a synesthete, one of the rarer kinds, color and sound. I didn't know there was anything weird or abnormal about it until I first heard the term. Reply

Tempyra 223 weeks ago Kreachure: Hahaha... be kind to the non-TV noise-hearing humans! It's not their fault :-D Reply

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Tempyra 223 weeks ago Wow. I just made it onto Listverse's top commenters list. The addiction grows! Reply

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Tempyra 223 weeks ago

newsong: What you said was one of the things I noticed when I was reading article to build this list - that people with synesthesia mostly don't think there's anything different about them :-). Do you experience music as colour or vice versa? Or both? Reply

WarningDontReadThis 223 weeks ago Tempyra: Once you're up there you can't help but feel a little proud. Despite the fact that you dont really do anything special xD Reply

pwnstar 223 weeks ago A more modern, or well known person with synthesesia, the producer/rapper pharell williams has sound/color Reply

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