How many photons get into your eyes?

A recent paper shows that our vision is so sensitive to light that human subjects can detect the presence of one single photon shot into their retinas. While scientists have been trying to establish the lower limit of visual sensitivity for a very long time, and it is generally accepted that a small number of photons are sufficient for detection since the 40’s, new advances in quantum optics finally allow us to manipulate light at single photon precision, and it is the first time that direct evidence for single photon sensitivity is demonstrated in a psychological experiment.
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The marmoset visual area DM for dummies

The visuotopic map of the marmoset dorsomedial visual cortex (area DM; see references) is sufficiently complex that it is probably worthwhile to design a few visual aides to make it more intuitive. The figure above is my first attempt. In this figure, DM is divided into three segments, with the most medial segment representing central upper visual field (nose and eye of Sir Isaac Newton), the middle segment representing the entire lower visual field, and the medial segment representing the peripheral upper visual field (the forehead and hair of Newton).
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The retinotopic map of marmoset V1

I created this figure to illustrate the retinotopic map of the primary visual cortex of the marmoset. The eccentricity contours are plotted in red, and polar angles are in blue. It’s very easy to create it in 3D so that you can rotate it around and see it from different angles. This is how you do it: Download ParaView, the open source 3D data visualization package.
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Mangarevan arithmetic

PNAS recently published a cognitive anthropology paper titled Mangarevan invention of binary steps for easier calculation. The paper describes an arithmetic system that had been used for hundreds of years by islanders living in Mangareva (a small island in French Polynesia) for the purpose of “counting a small group of highly valued objects such as turtles, fish, coconuts, octopuses, and breadfruits”. This system is not too different from the decimal system that we’re using today, except that a number in the Mangarevan language can contain a small segment of binary code, which employs four numerals to represent 10 multiplied by the first four powers of 2.
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