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The Human Ear – A Technology Marvel - By S.Uri
Audio is a vibrating disturbance that starts at a distinct point of origin and then travels through 3 dimensional space – if it finds a media to travel through. The media that carries an audio disturbance can be gas, fluid or solid. An empty space cannot carry audio, unless it is first converted to an electrodynamic wave, which can use the Aether as a traveling media.
The human ear was designed specifically to recognize waves traveling through air at a speed of 333 meters per second (… miles per hour). Having two ears allows us to receive and analyze surround sound, and to identify the approximate direction and distance to the point of origin.

Like any engineering design, the ear was specified to hear a certain range of vibrations (bandwidth) between 20 Hz and 20KHz. (Hz = Hertz = number of vibrations per second). Another limit of the ear is the volume; if the volume is too low – we wouldn’t be able to hear it; if it is too high we incur a permanent damage to our hearing capabilities. This damage is additive, meaning that the more we time we spend in a loud environment – the more damage is happening. It is advisable to use ear protection plugs if you are a band member and spend a lot of time in a noisy environment. You can easily estimate the damage to your ear when people tell you that the loudspeakers are earsplitting while you don’t seem to notice that.

The way the ear can hear is by having a small piece of “ear-drum” in each ear. This skin is very sensitive to air vibrations and directly transfers it to the brain. However, in order to be sensitive to the differential pressure caused by the audio air disturbance, it had to be designed in such a way that the air pressure the ear drum feels when no audio is present – is neutralized on both sides. Having the same pressure on both sides of the ear drum neutralizes ant tension in this skin, allowing it to distinguish audio noise as a vibrating change in that pressure. But how can we have the same pressure outside and inside the ear? To achieve this, our creator has designed 2 long hollow tubes, 1 mm (1/25 of an inch) thick that connect the inner ears to our throat, thus maintaining the same air pressure on both sides of our ear drum. This design also makes our ear adaptive to differences in air pressure that occur all the time due to variable atmospheric conditions.

What happens when we have a common cold? Our nose and throat are filled with fluids that obstruct our breathing. More so, these fluids also obstruct the air entrance to the above described hollow tube, thus creating a pressure differential between the outside and the inner ear, causing excessive tension to the ear drum which results in ear pain! If we dare to take a flight while with a running nose, we jeopardize further the health of our ear. When the aircraft takes of, the higher it flies the lower is the air pressure. Aircrafts are designed to let the cabin pressure decrease up to that of 10,000 feet level and then the aircraft systems keep it artificially constant because our body cannot function at much lower air pressure. So, when we are the 10,000 ft pressure, the inner ear discharges the excess air to our throat. However, when we land … the increasing pressure of normal altitudes is coming to our throat and PUSHES the fluids through the hollow tube into the inside of the ears! Now, not only we suffer pain because of pressure difference, but also we have infected fluids inside the ear with no way to escape! A loss of hearing is happening quickly and the only way to heal is by piercing a tiny hole in your ear drum and sucking the fluids out. The physician will also install a tiny tube on your ear drum that will allow the inner ear to heal and will allow pressure neutralization, until it falls out after 2-3 weeks. During the healing period the good doctor will advise you to take special care when you take a shower or bath, to avoid water coming to the inside ear through the artificial hole in your ear drum.

Well, we were not designed to fly that high… so be cautious!

Is audio the whole function of the ear? No. Another very important function is to be our stabilization sensor. This is a completely separate function of the same organ, showing us again how good and efficient was our designer. The stabilization sensor is positioned in the inner ear and gives us the sense of our body position in 3-dimentional space under gravity conditions. Without it we could not walk erect, get up, turn around, dance, etc.
The ear is a marvelous design. We, musicians, should know and keep it from harm. What will our life be without it?

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