Modified on
Solving the
Mystery of the Sonar of Dolphins

Some Related Links

Animation, 07May2013

This problem has now been solved:
How might dolphins be able to "see" by means of echoes from the clicks of their sonar?

The beginnings of a solution were presented in U. S. Patent "Echo scope", granted in 2008. The patent covers a set of ideas that was in place in 2005. For reasons pertaining to ownership and law, I cannot tell you much about the continuing discoveries and inventions of the intervening years. But, I will give you "hints."

The solution(s) begins with:
*) rather than their ears, dolphins detect times-of-arrival of echoes via echotrigger sensors in their jaw.
A related heuristic hint: if you are trying to solve the problem of the imaging sonar of dolphins, do not rely on Fourier Analysis.

The latest breakthrough in geometric sonar will use echoes from clicks of a dolphin to compute images, for us to see, of what that dolphin is "seeing" by means of its sonar.
May 2016

The latest, June 2014.

I have untangled this mystery: it had dawned on me that in my latest simulations, redone to demonstrate Feature-Based Passive (FBP) methods, my arrays were of much smaller diameter than the previous ones - and I had very little clue what I had done to make this possible. I have solved this mystery and can now show how to make a sonar-array - for imaging (still falling short of the detail that dolphins seem capable of) from echoes of clicks of real dolphins - the size of which array is about that of the chin of a bottlenose dolphin.

August 2014 / June 2015.

New insights have destroyed my "narrative." I am developing new explanations, involving new terminology. Also, I am changing the patent-applications that I had in progress.
Summer 2015. I am writing the strategic patent (application) that I call "Synchronics."

Mathematics of the Sonar of Dolphins

This new computational method is called "feature-based passive," or "FBP," sonar.
The methodology enables computation of an image from a single "click" like that of a dolphin. The waves used for imaging are not limited to sound. Ideas for applications include
* the world's best fish-finder
* imaging objects that are buried under sediments
* rapid 3D imaging of the interior of the human body
* deep seismological imaging of the interior of Earth (from orbiting satellites)
* analogous radar applications.

The new approach to computing images from waves has been inspired by the Echotrigger/Scopion Theory of the imaging sonar of dolphins. But the mathematics applies to waves other than those of sound and so a new name, "wavar," has been adopted to refer to the general principles.

The wavar announced here is being developed using "experiment-machines" -- simulations software for rapidly crafting and running experiments that probe for information in waves.
You can click here to a simulation from 2005 that portrays two fish seen from 50 feet above as they cavort about each other. The animation represents the possible functioning of a first version of "the world's best fish-finder."

It seems that in most species of toothed whale, for which sonar-clicks have been recorded and graphed, the clicks all have one prominent instance of a feature called a "fang."

A fang is a change in loudness that goes from a low to a high and back to a low in about 1/100,000 second and is much greater than all the other low-to-high transitions in the click. Given a known feature such as the "fang," but not knowing the time or the place of the emission of a click, FBP can, nonetheless, make a picture from echoes arriving at an array of sensors.

The scope of potential applications of geometric sonar include all areas of sonar, radar, exploration-seismology, and medical imaging. And more.

The question above was 'How might a dolphin "see" via echoes of its clicks?'
In Summer 2012, Douglas Moreman seems to have partly answered the question:
How does a dolphin see via echoes of its clicks or echoes of clicks of other dolphins?

Thanks in Memorium, two tutors in the use of sounds for detecting and imaging:
John Gitt, Chief Scientist of Westinghouse Oceanic Division
Donald Haefner, retired Chief Geophysicist of Shell Oil

You can send email to
the inventor

Sonar of Dolphins

Applications of This New Technology
The Echotrigger/Scopion Theory of How Neurons Can Image with Sound
Why "Echolocation" Cannot Explain the Sonic Vision of Dolphins
Odds and Ends
Abstract: Hypothetical Neurons
Current work
Sample Program for Experimenting

An animation of active sonar that went with an introductory paper,
"Sonic Imaging," presented at a meeting at Tulane University in New Orleans in 2005.
A first FBP animation showing results, April 2013
Improved Feature-Based Passive images, simply obtained
Animation, May 2013

This web site was begun in April, 2013.
This page of the site was modified on