Why your senses feel heightened outdoors!
When outdoors, it never ceases to amaze me how my senses seemed heightened and enhanced – the coutryside seems to come alive with small mammals rustling in the undergrowth, my skin seems to be able sense slight changes in air temperature and wind, and I am suddenly aware of the rich variety of smells.
The outdoors was far from my mind today as I sat on a train on the way back from London reading ‘Seventeen Equations that Changed the World’ by Ian Stewart. I was reading the chapter about logarithms when I came upon the Weber-Fechner Law. This law states:
“The perceived sensation is proportional to the logarithm of the stimulus”
Basically our brains handle relative difference in sensation (from all senses) rather than the actual difference. Put another way our senses tune into the scale of a stimulus – whilst we need to hear quiet sounds like a mouse and loud sounds like thunder, we cannot respond in proportion to both at the same time (or our ears would explode).
So (and I am extrapolating here slightly), as we leave our over stimulated lives to head out into the great outdoors, our senses must be re-tuning to our new environment, and this is the superman-esq feeling of enhanced senses we experience.
Get outdoors and experience it!
(this is presumably the same reason a world class violinist playing one of hardest pieces of music in a Subway station was largely ignored – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/01/15/the-things-we-miss-a-viol_n_158188.html)