Music is a large element of everyday life also it may be for almost as long as Human beings have now been on this earth. I often point to a finding of a 40,000-year-old flute dating back to that ice age as evidence for this, but truthfully, all the evidence you’ll need is all around you, every day. We remember ballads and music long after the folks who initially composed them have died and rotted away (a thought which I find curiously reassuring) plus the music industry, like it or hate it, is actually a big business.
On the other hand, while the ice age musicians probably survived during a world of stark brutality, frozen, dull wastelands and harsh, ‘kill or be killed’ inter-cave politics, they by no means had to deal with road works, transport lorries, screaming toddlers or drunken rabble-rousers on their way to the stag evening. Lucky buggers.
Today’s listener has to accommodate all that plus much more, which can make listening to the music not just difficult, but also dangerous.
Now, though, contemporary science has stumbled over a means in which you can still listen to your favorite tunes, even if you’re wearing earplugs (no, I’ve not been sniffing discarded paint cans once more). It’s called bone conduction tech and no, despite the slightly strange name, it in truth doesn’t hurt…
Based on recent fields of study, contact with any noise over 100 Dbm wears away a film known as a myelin sheath and leaves your middle ear prone to problems like tinnitus and temporary deafness, which can be the start of much more momentous problems. Bone conduction technology has been made to bypass the most sensitive parts of your ear and reduce the chance of inner-ear harm.
How? Well, in order to understand that, we have to first understand how our ears actually work. (HERE COMES THE SCIENCE-Y BIT) Basically, sound travels though the air, these sound waves are intercepted by several structures in the ear and are finally translated and transmitted into our brains (if it helps, imagine it like the encoding/decoding of digital information, such as that which guides the actions of a wireless mouse).
The sound waves first encounter a bit of cartilage (yes, the same stuff that a shark’s skeleton is formed of), which allows to focus the sound, this known as a pinna (but you can call it your outer ear without looking too silly).
After that, the sound waves pass into your middle ear, it is filled up with air and also contains both your auditory canal plus your eardrum (my little brother burst his when he was little and almost burst mine crying about it). The eardrum vibrates, passing the sound through to the ossicles, that are three small bones (that are actually pretty necessary to the sense of steadiness, I am told). These tiny bones transmit the signal to the cochlea, that’s a fluid-filled infrastructure that ‘encodes’ the indicators for our noggin to ‘decode’.
Bone conduction technology vibrates the bones of the skull, sending the sound directly to a cochlea and bypassing the remainder of the ear entirely. The nerve impulses transmitted to the mind are exactly the same, but the sensitive instrument of our ear doesn’t need to deal with the hassle of, to cite Anchorman’s Brick Tamland “LOUD NOISES!”
This process appears to be totally safe; in fact, the famously deaf composer Beethoven applied a elementary version of this process in order to compose his most famous works. He attached a rod between his piano and his head and, as such, was able to listen to the music he was playing.
So here you go, rather then exposing your delicate ears to louder and louder volumes, to drown out the background noise, you can instead stick your earpugs in and play your music at the correct volume. Make no bones about it (groan!)
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