Thursday, February 17, 2011

Mystery of the Missing Ears

Hi Science in a Van team,

I just did your hole in the hand experiment - wow freaky!!!!  Something weird happened to me the other day.  I needed to get a passport photo for my baby son.  The chemist lady told me to take a picture of him on the ground with his eyes open, mouth shut and both ears showing.  So I lined him up with both ears clearly showing and took the picture but in the picture both his ears had disappeared.  I tried again and again and every time I could see both his ears with my own eyes but the camera couldn't see them.  Weird.  Check it out.
Phoebe, Auckland

First of all Phoebe, you have a VERY cute kid!  Secondly, thanks for emailing us and it’s great you enjoyed the hole in the hand experiment. 

In answer to your email...
 we do believe your son has ears!  The picture you sent us is totally misleading and the camera is to blame. 

As you look down on your son you are getting a much wider view than the camera does.  That is because with your two lenses (eyes) you have binocular vision.  However, the camera only has a single lens.   

In your photo the ‘eye’ of the camera is looking directly down on the centre of your son’s head.  Which means it can’t quite see either of his ears.

We are hoping if you move the camera to the left or right you be able to take a picture of your son with one of his ears!  It’s a little bit like if you had one eye in the middle of your forehead – imagine what view of the world you would get then!

Thanks again Phoebe for emailing in and we hope this response solves the mystery of the missing ears!