World Hearing Day: Fascinating facts about hearing and ears
Every year on March 3 it’s the World Hearing Day appointed by the World Health Organization “to raise awareness on how to prevent deafness and hearing loss and promote ear and hearing care across the world.” Let’s join the movement! To commemorate such important day and in order to gain awareness on this crucial topic, we have compiled some fascinating facts about hearing and the ear that you may have never heard about before.
Women hear better than men
Many studies prove what we women already know – we understand spoken words better than men. Especially when it comes to the frequency range of 1,000 hertz, which is crucial for understanding speech. And the cherry on the cake: the hearing ability of women decreases significantly less when they’re getting older. It deteriorates twice as fast in men. Sorry guys!
The hardest and the smallest bone
Did you know that both, the hardest and the smallest bones of our body, are located in our ear? The temporal bone, the hardest one, is in the inner ear. The smallest one is called the stapes and sits in the middle ear.
Yep, our ears are always on, they never sleep. But while we are sleeping our brain fortunately ignores sounds. To let us get our beauty sleep, it only detects the loud and unexpected ones. So, if we are in danger while we sleep soundly our brain will recognize it and wake us up.
Talking about loud noises: Did you know which sound is the loudest ever measured by humans? It was the sound of a volcano. In late August 1833, the volcano on the Indonesian island Krakatau erupted and the sound could be even heard in Alice Springs, Australia, 3,600 kilometres away. At a distance of 160 kilometres from the Indonesian island, measuring instruments still indicated 180 decibels, which is enough volume to burst a human eardrum. Just so you can have an idea of what that means, a sound level of about 200 decibels is lethal to humans. Do you want to know, which sound can be that loud? An earthquake of magnitude 5 on the Richter scale brings it to 235 decibels.
Don’t scrap a plate with a fork
Sound doesn’t need to be loud to bother us. A study published in the journal Perception & Psychophysics by 3 researchers, D Halpern, James Hillenbrand, and Randolph Blake, reveals that the most unpleasant noises to our ears include a knife scraping against a bottle, a fork scraping on a plate, chalk or nails on a blackboard, …you know which ones we are talking about. And that is because the middle frequencies of these sounds resemble those of a sound produced by a predator or a warning cry of another primate. Full body chills!
Left ear for music, right one for speech
Want more facts? There we go. The Universities of California and Arizona found out that our left ear is more receptive to musical sounds and continuous tones while the right ear is more responsive to speech. So, if you want that your loved ones know how much you love them, whisper in their right ear.
The world’s most quiet place
If you really would like to chill and be for yourself without any distraction and sounds, you should travel to Redmond near Seattle and visit the headquarters of Microsoft. There you’ll find the Audio Lab, an anechoic chamber that absorbs 99,999 percent of sounds. With a noise level of minus 20.6 decibels, this is the quietest room in the world, 50 decibels quieter than a quiet conversation. Microsoft uses the room for audio research. Anyone who spends longer in this room can hear their own heart beating and their lungs working - no one is said to have endured this for longer than one hour. Sounds creepy!
And last but not least
The older, the bigger – our earlobes never stop growing our entire life.
Happy World Hearing Day