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A superhuman character in my book has the ability to sense objects outside of his body by simply being around them without touching them. There is some sort of field that extends outside of his body and allows him to feel anything inside that it encompass. It takes a while for him to learn to harness it so he can feel smaller objects or expand the field. He starts out feeling basic shapes like a marble or a small simple box, and eventually is able to distinguish ink from paper with such accuracy that he could read a book without opening it.

The question

Is such a power possible?

What would have to happen biologically for him to be able to achieve this?

If this power isn't achievable by natural biological means, what technology could produce this?

Additional information

  • A basic explanation of this power is "an x-ray you cant see" in the sense of the individual can feel others around them and objects but they cannot see something they are feeling that is not in view such as being able to feel the ink on the page of a book and through the basic feel of it, determining what letter it might be , think of it like Hellen Keller having someone trace the letters of a word in her hand
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  • $\begingroup$ THis is a little broad, you may want to narrow down you question list $\endgroup$ – TrEs-2b Oct 7 '16 at 16:22
  • $\begingroup$ I agree with TrEs-2b. You may want to cut out the second part of the question and save it for later, after getting feedback from the first part. $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Oct 7 '16 at 16:24
  • $\begingroup$ I've read books that claim bhuddist monks have reached this as part of their enlightened state. Also doesn't seem too much different than the power set behind the Daredevil. $\endgroup$ – Twelfth Oct 7 '16 at 16:27
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    $\begingroup$ All you're describing is radar or sonar or any other active-pinging-and-listening detection system. Bats and other creatures have a form of sonar: echolocation. So yes, so long as this guy can generate and project his "field" (of whatever type), and listen for reflections of that field off objects, this is feasible. The nature of his field will determine what the kinds, properties, and distances of objects he can detect. Radio, as in radar, is probably a pragmatic choice. Note that any such mechanism has the same drawback as radar: it makes you that much more visible to detectors, too. $\endgroup$ – Dan Bron Oct 7 '16 at 16:34
  • $\begingroup$ For a more mundane example of what I'm talking about: flashlights. During the day, humans are in "passive radar" mode; at night, without an ambient field, we have to create our own, and go into "active radar" mode. We do that by projecting visible light (which is, by definition, the kind of field we can detect) with flashlights and look for reflections off objects. $\endgroup$ – Dan Bron Oct 7 '16 at 16:36
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The sense of touch is a very difficult one to define. In fact, some people believe that our ability to "feel" can be broken down into an additional four or five senses.

The specific degrees of touch you seem to be focusing on seem to be somatosensation and propioception, or the abilities to sense pressure (touch) and know where things, particularly your body parts, are (self-awareness).

However, both of these are achieved by complex networks of sensory nerves. What this means is that the stimuli necessary to achieve either of these has to be physically touching the person.

Outside of existing on some astral plane or something or other, it is impossible to biologically "feel" everything around you.

However, there is a second-best thing.

If you increase one's other senses: balance, temperature, hearing, etc., then it may become possible for their brain to interpret that as some "awareness" of the environment. And because the brain filters out what information a person becomes consciously aware of, your super-human may believe they have perfectly normal senses; whereas their subconscious is taking in a lot more.

This would work a lot like Daredevil from Marvel Comics. A three-dimensional intimate understanding of the world around them, as if they could “feel” everything around them.

For example: if they walked into a room, blindfolded, they may get a crude understanding of what's in the room without even realizing it, like some sixth "awareness" sense. With practice it could become even more accurate.

If they took a stroll through the park, they may know everything that's around him without even looking. They may even know the exact number of people and their measurements.

Of course, this is all superscience, but it’s plausible as far as things go.

TL;DR

Amp up their subconscious senses, add in some meditation, and then you have your bubble of feeling.

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Synesthesia combined with infrared vision: your character can see heat, but because of the synesthesia, he perceives it as touch.

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Magnetism!

It is possible* to have a small magnet surgically implented into one's tissue in order to indirectly sense magnetic fields.

*Youtube channel "Cody'sLab" presenter Cody has a magnet in his finger. Moving that finger through an external magnetic field causes the implanted magnet to deflect, causing deformation of the soft tissue and is thus detectable by the sense of touch. Such fields manifest as vibrations or attractive/repulsive forces.

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