Dec 22, 2021 I Paul Seaburn

Color-Hearing Cyborg is Now Working on an Implant to Bend Time

One of the many recurring themes of end-of-the-year recaps of 2021 will be Elon Musk’s effort to put chips in human brains. Unlike electric cars, space tourism and annoying just about everyone, Musk hasn’t achieved this goal yet, but someone else has. In 2014, Neil Harbisson, a British colorblind artist who can only see in black-and-white, convinced an anonymous team of doctors to implant a chip into his skull and connect it to an antenna protruding from his head that allowed him to ‘hear’ colors via software that converted color frequencies into sound frequencies. This turned Harbisson into a ‘cyborg’ – a description that he relished as it brought him fame and fortune. (Photos of Harbisson here.) While Elon is still struggling to get government approval for his brain implants, Harbisson has moved on and is now working on an implant that will allow him to bend time.

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He's not quite to this point ... yet.

“Being a cyborg means technology is part of your identity. It allows me to sense colors from infrared to ultraviolet through vibrations in my head that then become sound, so I can actually hear color.”

Neil Harbisson now lives in Spain and claims to be friends with Leonardo di Caprio, Tom Cruise and other celebrities. His cyborgness has allowed him to overcome achromatopsia, a rare condition which limited his vision to gray scale (most colorblind people can see some colors, just not all of them). Having successfully mastered the bone vibrations that tell him the colors in front of him and his antenna to the point that they are now part of his being, Harbisson has decided to tackle something that is not a disease but a condition that all humans experience – the passage of time.

"There's a point of heat that takes 24 hours to go around my neck and allows you to feel the rotation of the planet."

He's created a device shaped like a chunky metal collar, designed to sense the passing of time, and is kicking off a year-long trial to see how it works.

"There's a point of heat that takes 24 hours to go around my neck and allows you to feel the rotation of the planet."

Euronews reports that Harbisson’s latest invention is a neck collar he wears which gives him a physical sensation of the passage of time – a feeling of heat that travels around his neck lick an hour hand travels around a 24-hour clock’s face. The cyborg has been modifying the collar after a few nasty burns, but he hasn’t yet converted it to another brain chip or implant that would turn him into a double cyborg. Is that crucial to allowing him to use the device to travel in time?

"Once the brain gets used to it, you can use an app to make subtle changes to the speed of the point of heat which should alter your perception of time. You could potentially stretch time or make it feel like time is going faster."

Could slowing down one’s perception of time be a key to the dream of other billionaires – slowing down or stopping the aging process? Could speeding up one’s perception of time allow one to jump ahead of others into the near future? For Star Trek fans, this sounds like the original series episode “Wink of an Eye” in which time-accelerated aliens take over the Enterprise, or “Blink of an Eye,” a Star Trek: Voyager episode when the ship orbits a time-accelerated planet. Neither one of those scenarios worked in favor of the time-accelerated.

"I think in the next few years and decades we will see more people merging biologically with technology."

Cyborg Neil Harbisson doesn’t reveal his plans for this time-bending ability, but his past success indicates he’s already thinking about it beyond just being another sc-fi story or thumbing his nose at Elon Musk. We’ll soon find out … after he does, of course.

Paul Seaburn
Paul Seaburn is the editor at Mysterious Universe and its most prolific writer. He’s written for TV shows such as "The Tonight Show", "Politically Incorrect" and an award-winning children’s program. He's been published in “The New York Times" and "Huffington Post” and has co-authored numerous collections of trivia, puzzles and humor. His “What in the World!” podcast is a fun look at the latest weird and paranormal news, strange sports stories and odd trivia. Paul likes to add a bit of humor to each MU post he crafts. After all, the mysterious doesn't always have to be serious.

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