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No. 101: Sep-Oct 1995

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More Hear Ears

Just after SF#100* was sent off to the printer with its item "Straight from the Horse's Ear," another report on sound emissions from ears appeared in Nature. Although the body of the article deals with sounds emanating from the ears of chinchillas, humans are not neglected. First, from the abstract:

"The inner ear sometimes acts as a robust sound generator, continuously broadcasting sounds (spontaneous otoacoustic emissions) which can be intense enough to be heard by other individuals standing nearby. Paradoxically, most individuals are unaware of the sounds generated within their ears."

Second, the article's final sentence:

"Apparently, some humans with intense spontaneous emissions owe their hearing loss to internal 'noise' which they are unable to perceive."

(Powers, Nicholas L., et al; "Elevation of Auditory Thresholds by Spontaneous Cochlear Oscillations," Nature, 375:585, 1995.)

* SF#100 = Science Frontiers #100.

From Science Frontiers #101 Sep-Oct 1995. 1995-2000 William R. Corliss