Thursday, November 15, 2012

Your Ear is Amazing Part One

You are amazing. That is if you are human.

The human ear is one of the most interesting things sensors around. As complex as the eye, more sensitive than the nose, and important than the tongue. It is amazing.

Today we will be talking about how the ear works and how you take in sound. In part two we will explore music and notes, giving the ear and brain more complexity. To start lets explore how sound is made. Clap your hands!


When you clap your hands, the air around your hands moves and bumps into more air particles. These particles run into more and more air particles. This chain reaction of air bouncing around finally gets to your eardrum. The eardrum then vibrates and pushes against tiny bones. These bones push on the cochlea. The cochlea changes the vibrations in to neural signals and sends it off the the brain.

How the ear looks

The cochlea is the most interesting part. It takes a vibration and vibrates a fluid that then tickles cretin hairs depending on the frequencies in the sound wave. The clap you made has a particular sound wave that might look like this.
One Clap Sound Wave
That wave trigers some of the tiny hairs in the cochlea, which send electrical signals to the brain. The brain then interprets the incoming signals and matches it with signals it has heard before to gain meaning of the sound wave. But wait there is more! How many sounds are you hearing right now? Count them? Music, voices in the room, the heater or fan, your cell phone vibrating on the table.... your ear-brain combo takes all of these and can isolate them. Computers cant do this task well...yet. 

Thats all for today. Check out this really cool video on sound.

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