Your Sense of Touch Could Feel a Pimple on a Gnat's Ass
Imagine you were bitten by a radioactive animal of some kind and the only superpower you wound up with was a superhuman sense of touch. Imagine your nerves became so sensitive that you could feel something as tiny as a virus. Sure, you wouldn't be able to fight crime with it, unless it was committed by evil nanobots or something, but it'd still be amazing, right? Well, congratulations -- you can already do it.
Might we suggest "No crime is too small!" as your heroic battle cry?
It turns out that our sense of touch -- mainly in our fingers -- is so well adapted to feeling the teensiest nuances that we can detect bumps on the surface of an object at a nano-level. Researchers at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology conducted an experiment in which blindfolded participants were asked to get all touchy-feely with 16 different polymer surfaces, ranging from silky smooth to somewhat wrinkly. But here's the catch: These "wrinkles" were minuscule -- they could be measured only in terms of nanometers and micrometers.
What they found was that the participants "could distinguish a surface which had a 13-nanometer average amplitude from a smooth surface." Thirteen freaking nanometers. A single rhinovirus, that microscopic asshole that causes the common cold, is bigger than that.
Robin S, Via Wikipedia
Though by virus standards, it's a bit of a chunker.
So what does this mean to you? Well, it means how things feel in your hand has way more impact than what anyone thought -- two different surfaces manufactured to be "smooth" but with different tiny imperfections, feel nothing alike to your fingers. This discovery will lead to manufacturers being better equipped to sell you stuff. Yay!
See, when faced with two seemingly identical products, you're going to choose the smoother one -- even if it's only smoother on a nearly subconscious level. So while the ability to feel, say, the creeping heat of an approaching fire or the teensy tickle of poisonous ants crawling up your ass crack may have gotten us humans to where we are today, the ability for Apple to sell you a smoother iPhone is what's going to take us into the future.
The third part of XJ's epic science-fiction novel is out now on Amazon. The first $0.99 novella can be found here, with Part 2 out here. Or leave a review and get a free copy! Poke him on Twitter and follow him on Facebook.
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Related Reading: What, those aren't enough super powers for you? Click here to learn how to build a memory palace. And hey, did you know your morning coffee was giving you super-powers? This all sounds a lot more awesome when you don't know about these real people with unique powers.