TCAPS Bionic Ear Cuffs Protect Soldiers' Ears Without Muffling The World
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Though hearing loss is a problem for everyone, avoiding it is easier for civilians: if you know you'll be in a loud environment, just pop in some earplugs and you're good to go. Soldiers, on the other hand, don't know when they'll be exposed to loud sounds, since explosives go off and firefights break out without warning. That's one reason 1 in 5 U.S. soldiers suffer from hearing loss. Keeping earplugs in at all times isn't an option, since the majority of a soldier's day is spent quietly and earplugs have the undesirable side effect of muffling everything, not just the loudest sounds. The problem gets even more dire when you think about the fact that the loudest military environments, like the aforementioned firefight, are the ones where good communication is most essential.
You Do Hear The Ocean In A Seashell—But Only By The Ocean
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Have you ever held a seashell to your ear and listened? You've probably been told that you were hearing the ocean, or, from more scientifically minded folks, that it was just the sound of the blood pulsing through your ears. In fact, the truth is closer to the first explanation than the second. If you were to listen to a seashell, then run around for a few minutes before listening again, your heart would beat faster but there would be no difference in the sound you heard in the seashell. That means the sound you hear isn't just your blood.Here's what's really going on: a shell is what's known as a resonant cavity, like that of a glass bottle or the body of an acoustic guitar. The same way that a plucked string makes the body of the guitar vibrate, the sound waves around the shell make it vibrate ever so slightly. Therefore, if you're near the ocean, you'll hear the actual vibration of ocean sounds, but if you're in the park, you'll hear the ghostly vibrations of the birds and the breeze. The same vibration affects regularly shaped cavities like water glasses, too, but nobody hears the ocean in a water glass—just in a seashell. That's because a water glass generally has one frequency that makes it vibrate the most, whereas the seashell's irregular shape makes it vibrate at many different frequencies. That's why you hear a "whoosh" like an ocean wave instead of a single soft tone. Learn more about the science of sound with the videos below.
How Do You Know If You're Hurting Your Hearing?
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If you've ever rocked out at a loud concert and woken up the next day with noticeably muffled hearing, you may have wondered: Did I just damage my ears? The answer to that is complex. As far as the muffled hearing, what you experienced is called temporary threshold shift. This happens when the tiny hairs of your inner ear, the ones that sense sound pressure waves, become fatigued. Research into the relationship between temporary threshold shift, which doesn't last, and permanent threshold shift, which does, is ongoing, and scientists aren't sure whether one causes the other or they have separate causes. One thing is for sure: exposing yourself to very loud noise, like that of a rock concert, dance club, or cranked-up headphones, can cause permanent hearing loss. To know whether the noise you're hearing is loud enough to be harmful, it's good to have a basic understanding of decibels. Decibels are units of sound pressure level, and the louder the sound, the higher the decibels. For example, a soft whisper is around 35 decibels, a vacuum cleaner is around 75 decibels, and a dance club is usually about 110 decibels. You can measure decibels yourself with a variety of smartphone apps. To know how loud is too loud, just look to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which provides guidelines for how much noise is safe for U.S. workers to be exposed to before they experience an unacceptable risk of hearing damage. In an eight-hour day, OSHA sets a limit of 85 decibels, then cuts the acceptable time by half for every 5 decibels. This means that if work noise were to match the 110 decibels of a dance club, OSHA regulations wouldn't permit that worker to stay there for any longer than 30 minutes. Learn more about hearing damage and how to protect yourself with the videos below.
Scientists Make Stale Chips Taste Fresh With An Audio Edit
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For a study published in 2004, participants wore headphones as they bit into 180 identical Pringles potato chips and rated each one on its freshness. The headphones let them hear real-time audio of the crunch with each bite, but what they didn't know was that the researchers were subtly changing the sound: they boosted or lowered the high frequencies of some chips and turned up or down the volume on others. The results showed that people will rate a chip as tasting fresher if the crunch has more high frequencies or a louder volume, and more stale and soft when the high frequencies or volume were turned down. This interaction of multiple senses, known as crossmodal perception, is nothing new. In fact, the researchers got the idea from a phenomenon called the "parchment skin illusion," where scientists can change your perception of your hands' texture by altering the sound you hear when you rub them together.
Key Facts to Know
Crossmodal perception occurs when two or more of your senses interact with each other. 0:44
People associate sweet and sour tastes with high-pitched notes and umami and bitter tastes with low-pitched notes. 2:32
Auditory-taste synesthetes taste flavors on their tongue when they hear certain sounds without requiring any food present. 3:37
The Pilot Earpiece Is A Real-Time Translator
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Translation technology has come a long way in a short amount of time, but a device out of Waverly Labs has the potential to change the game completely. It's called the Pilot, and here's how it works: you insert the standalone earpiece, connect it wirelessly to its accompanying smartphone app, then just start talking to someone. It listens to your conversation and automatically translates the language being spoken. It doesn't need a network connection to function, making it a potential boon for overseas travelers and researchers in remote locations.