Yes they can. Marta Zaraska, Scientific American, reports on a new study indicates that “some flora may be capable of sensing sounds, such as the gurgle of water…or the buzzing of insects.” If plants can hear, are they susceptible to noise pollution? Sadly, the answer could be yes. Zaraska writes that the research “raises questions about whether acoustic pollution affects plants as well as animals.” Monica Gagliano, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Western Australia who worked on the research project said that “[n]oise could block information channels between plants, for example, when they need to warn each other of insects.” So throw out the gas-powered leaf blower and buy yourself a rake. Your flora will thank you.
Catherine Caruso, reporting for Scientific American, writes about “Detecting Hidden Hearing Loss in Young People.” Caruso looks at hidden hearing loss, a phenomenon discovered in 2009, which the researchers who discovered it consider a “likely contributor to the cumulative loss typically associated with aging.” Now, those researchers have developed tools for detecting hidden hearing loss and have discovered evidence of hidden hearing loss in young people.
While Caruso notes that there is hope that hidden hearing loss could be reversed in the future, she also points out steps one can take now to protect hearing: namely, by limiting noise exposure and using ear protection. And parents, talk to your kids about their earbud and headphone use. No one knows if and when researchers will be able to reverse hidden hearing loss, so avoiding hidden hearing loss in the first instance is the best tact.