Music is a huge element of daily life and it may be for nearly as long as Humans have been on this planet. I often point to a discovery of a 40,000-year-old flute dating back to that ice age as proof for this, but truthfully, all of the evidence you’ll need is all around you, every day. We recall ballads and songs long after the folks who 1st composed them have died and rotted away (a plan which I find curiously comforting) and the music industry, like it or hate it, is actually a big business.
On the other hand, whilst the ice age musicians likely lived in a world of stark cruelty, frozen, featureless wastelands and harsh, ‘kill or be killed’ inter-cave politics, they never had to contend with road works, delivery lorries, screaming toddlers or drunken crowd-rousers on their way to a stag evening. Fortunate buggers.
Today’s listener has to deal with all that and much more, that may make listening to the music not only difficult, but also dangerous.
Now, though, contemporary science has stumbled over a way in which you can still listen to your favourite tunes, even if you’re wearing earplugs (no, I have not been sniffing discarded paint cans again). It’s called skeleton conduction tech and no, despite the slightly odd name, it in truth doesn’t harm…
According to recent fields of study, contact with any sound over 100 decibels wears away a film known as a myelin sheath and leaves your inner ear liable to problems like tinnitus and temporary deafness, that may be the start of even more serious problems. Bone conduction technology is designed to bypass various sensitive portions of the ear and reduce the chance of inner-ear damage.
How? Well, in order to know that, we have to first comprehend how our ears essentially work. (HERE COMES THE SCIENCE-Y BIT) Principally, sound travels though the space, these sound waves are intercepted by numerous structures inside the ear and are ultimately translated and transmitted into our brains (if it helps, think of it much like the encoding/decoding of digital information, like that which leads the actions of the wireless mouse).
The sound waves first meet a piece of cartilage (yes, the same stuff that a shark’s skeleton is made of), which allows to concentrate the sound, this is called a pinna (but you’ll call it your outer ear without appearing too silly).
After that, the sound waves pass into your middle ear, that is filled with air and in addition contains both your auditory canal plus your eardrum (my little brother burst his when he was little and virtually burst mine crying about it). The eardrum vibrates, passing the sound through to the ossicles, which are three small bones (that are in fact pretty necessary to your sense of balance, I am told). These tiny bones transmit the noise to the cochlea, that’s a fluid-filled structure that ‘encodes’ the indicators for our noggin to ‘decode’.
Bone conduction technology vibrates the bones of your skull, sending the noise directly to a cochlea and bypassing the rest of the ear completely. The nerve impulses transmitted to your human brain are exactly the same, however the sensitive instrument of the ear doesn’t have to deal with the trouble of, to cite Anchorman’s Brick Tamland “LOUD NOISES!”
This method appears to be totally safe; in fact, the notably deaf composer Beethoven applied a rudimentary version of this method to be able to compose his most well-known works. He attached a rod between his piano and his head and, as such, was able to hear the song he was playing.
So here you go, rather than exposing your delicate ears to louder and louder volumes, to drown out the background noise, it is possible to alternativily stick your earpugs in and play your music at the correct volume. Make no bones about it (groan!)
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