Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I learned about bat chirp sonar when I was a kid, but I guess I never really thought about what the bat was thinking in its head as it bobbed through the pitch of night squawking at bugs and bridges and all that stuff getting in the ways of dinner. Bats just had that technology like subs and planes from the war and that was that for all I cared. That's what I learned and so that's what I stuck with--up until Lisa brought that book home from school.

It's funny. You learn something and you think you know it through and through so as nothing about it seems strange or mysterious anymore; it gets to be you're so familiar with the idea of something that the reality of the thing fades away so you know it less somehow. Take the town where I went to school, Fernley, out there in Nevada where I was born. An out-of-towner comes along and looks at the name on the map and thinks Fernley's known for its ferns or some other rubbish that's actually got a lot of sense nestled in it (if you take a second to stop and think about it from his point of view that is), but nope, we treat him like a city-slicker with nothing but a map and pair of fancy sunglasses.

Reminds me of a time out hunting with my Pa when I was just a kid. I remember him saying this as we lay there for what seems like hours in the frigid cold, burrowed under a pile of rotting leaves, frustrated to all hell: "Like glasses sitting on the end of your nose," he says, "some things are in your sights but out of your mind and you just can't do a thing about it."

To tell the truth, until ten minutes ago, I never really thought about bats--let alone what the hell it'd be like to
be one--so when Lisa brought in that book that says bats' perception is only set at ten times per second it didn't mean much to me. It wasn't until it then compared it to a stroboscope--like the ones they use in discos--that I got a real sense of what it might be like to "see" like one. The problem then has to do with getting anything done if you can only see ten pictures a second--I can imagine a good amount of tripping in the night trying to get to the bathroom with a stroboscope only giving me what bats are getting--so the next part in the book, the one where it remarked upon the increase in bat chirps of up to 200 per second when it's near a bug in the dark, clarified things up a bit.

It's this next part here though that really got me going and set me on to writing about it: "They live in a world of echoes and probably their brains can use echoes to do something akin to 'seeing' images, although it is next to impossible for us to 'visualize' what those images might be like."

These little flying furballs got a perception so subtle and good that it's like vision but not and it just boggles my mind to imagine these little guys experiencing night like it's day through their ears. I'm just stuck wondering on the queerness of it that's all. Yeah...that's all I suppose.