Sound

Dutch “singing road” drives locals nuts

Imagine the aural counterpart to this. Photo credit: Steven Lek licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

by Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, The Quiet Coalition

Here is an amusing article about a singing road that bothered people living nearby and eventually was made to sound like a normal road.

Road traffic noise is a major contributor to noise pollution, obviously affecting those living closest to the road or highway.

Let’s hope that other cities and towns learn from the Dutch experience: people want quiet highways, not noisy ones.

Dr. Daniel Fink is a leading noise activist based in the Los Angeles area. He serves on the board of the American Tinnitus Association, is the interim chair of Quiet Communities’s Health Advisory Council, and is the founding chair of The Quiet Coalition, an organization of science, health, and legal professionals concerned about the impacts of noise on health, environment, learning, productivity, and quality of life in America.

“A Quiet Place” is so quiet

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that the audience is afraid of making noise. Reports have popped up saying the movie is so quiet that its audience is “too scared to eat their popcorn” because of the deafening silence. Not a bad thing in our book.

And apparently some others agree. Check out this review by Gary Thompson, The Philadelphia Inquirer: ‘A Quiet Place’: Aliens rid the earth of noisy people. Hear, hear.

 

 

Ever crack your knuckles and hear them pop?

 

Photo credit: Graeme Paterson licensed under CC BY 2.0

Now researchers may finally know why. Apparently the noise is caused by microscopic bubbles when they pop. Summer Delany, PIX11, explains:

Your knuckles are surrounded by fluid, and when you stretch and move your joints, the pressure creates bubbles. When those bubbles collapse, a sound is produced.

And no, cracking your knuckles doesn’t cause arthritis, but “[c]hronic knuckle-crackers [are] more likely to have swollen hands and reduced grip strength.”

 

On “hearing” silent images, redux

When we first wrote about the phenomenon of GIFs that people could “hear” last December, we said we couldn’t “hear” the GIF.  But then this article came out with a larger version of the GIF, and, well, yes, it’s loud and clear.

Click the second link and “hear” (or not) for yourself.  And do read the entire piece.  Turns out the reason why one in five of us can hear silent images is that it is a common form of synaesthesia, “the weird sensory cross-over that leads some people to visualise noises or feel smells.”

Your outer ears are important to hearing, too

Photo credit: Travis Isaacs licensed under CC BY 2.0

by Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, The Quiet Coalition

Those of us concerned about noise and hearing focus on noise damaging the inner ear and associated nerve structures, but the outer ear has an important role to play in hearing. It collects sound waves and directs them to the external auditory canal, but it also does more.

This report in the Science section of the New York Times discusses how the shape of the external ear helps humans determine exactly where a sound came from.

We can protect our hearing either by covering the pinna–the part of the external ear that we see–with ear muff hearing protection, or inserting ear plugs into the other part of the external ear, the external auditory canal. What’s important is to choose a method to protect your hearing and stick with it.

Dr. Daniel Fink is a leading noise activist based in the Los Angeles area. He serves on the board of the American Tinnitus Association, is the interim chair of Quiet Communities’s Health Advisory Council, and is the founding chair of The Quiet Coalition, an organization of science, health, and legal professionals concerned about the impacts of noise on health, environment, learning, productivity, and quality of life in America.

This is fascinating

if a bit difficult for us non-STEM types to follow: Scientists can store light as sound moving us “[o]ne step closer to computers that process data at the speed of light.” According to Fiona MacDonald, Science Alert, storing “light-based information as sound waves on a computer chip…is critical if we ever want to shift from our current, inefficient electronic computers, to light-based computers that move data at the speed of light.”

And then our artificially intelligent robots can enslave us faster.

Still, the piece is interesting.  Click the first link to read the whole thing.

U.S. ends “noiseless” electric cars

U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has finalized rules regarding electric vehicles requiring that “any four-wheeled vehicle with a GVWR of less than 10,000 pounds must emit a pedestrian-warning noise at speeds below 18.6 miles per hour.”

So what will the pedestrian-warning sound like? It’s not been determined yet, writes Steph Willems, Hybriedcars.com, noting that people who have driven an electric vehicle with a pedestrian-warning noise find it “can be unsettling, even unpleasant.” Willems adds that the NHTSA hasn’t yet decided whether to give drivers a choice of sounds, though “automakers hope to have owners select from a list of regulator-approved warning tones.”

Let’s hope that someone with some taste and sense is involved in the decision-making, because the consequences of allowing brand managers and marketers to make that decision is, at best, horrifying.