Music is a massive element of everyday life but it may be for almost as long as Human beings have now been on this planet. I often point to the discovery of a 40,000-year-old flute dating back to that ice age as evidence for this, but truly, the evidence you need is all around you, each day. We remember ballads and songs long after the folks who first composed them have died and rotted away (an idea which I find curiously soothing) and also the music industry, like it or hate it, is actually a huge business.
On the other hand, while the ice age musicians probably survived in a world of stark brutality, frozen, featureless wastelands and harsh, ‘kill or be killed’ inter-cave politics, they never had to contend with road works, transport lorries, screaming children or drunken rabble-rousers on their way to a stag evening. Fortunate buggers.
Today’s listener has to accommodate all that and more, that may make listening to the music not only difficult, but additionally risky.
Now, however, modern science has stumbled over a means in which you can still listen to the favourite songs, even if you’re wearing earplugs (no, I have not been sniffing discarded paint cans yet again). It is called skeleton conduction technology and no, despite the marginally odd name, it in truth doesn’t hurt…
Based on recent fields of study, contact with any sound over 100 decibels wears away a membrane known as the myelin sheath and leaves your middle ear susceptible to problems like tinnitus and temporary deafness, which can be the start of even more momentous problems. Bone conduction technology is designed to bypass various sensitive portions of the ear and reduce the danger of inner-ear harm.
How? Well, so as to understand that, we need to first identify with how our ears essentially work. (HERE COMES THE SCIENCE-Y BIT) Basically, noise travels though the air, these sound waves are intercepted by quite a few structures within the ear and are ultimately translated and transmitted into our brains (if it helps, imagine it like the encoding/decoding of digital information, such as that which leads the movements of the wireless mouse).
The sound waves first encounter a piece of cartilage (yes, similar stuff that a shark’s skeleton is formed of), which allows to focus the sound, this known as a pinna (but you’ll call it your outer ear without looking too ridiculous).
After that, the sound waves pass into your middle ear, that is filled with air and also includes both your auditory canal and 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, that are three small bones (that are in fact pretty necessary to your sense of balance, I’m told). These tiny bones transmit the sound to the cochlea, that’s a fluid-filled structure that ‘encodes’ the indicators for our noggin to ‘decode’.
Bone conduction tech vibrates the bones of the skull, distributing the sound directly to the cochlea and bypassing the remainder of the ear completely. The nerve impulses transmitted to your mind are precisely the same, but the sensitive instrument of our ear does not have to deal with the trouble of, to quote Anchorman’s Brick Tamland “LOUD NOISES!”
This method seems to be entirely safe; actually, the eminently deaf composer Beethoven employed a rudimentary version of this method to be able to create 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 environment noise, you are able to instead stick your earpugs in and play your music at the correct volume. Make no bones about it (groan!)
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