Music is a big element of everyday life also it may be for almost as long as Humans have been on this planet. I often point to a finding of the 40,000-year-old flute dating back to the ice age as proof for this, but truly, all of the evidence you need is all around you, each day. We recall ballads and music long after the people who 1st composed them have died and rotted away (a thought which I find curiously comforting) and also the music industry, like it or hate it, is always a large business.
However, while the ice age musicians likely survived during a world of stark violence, frozen, dull wastelands and tough, ‘kill or be killed’ inter-cave politics, they by no means required to cope with road works, transport lorries, screaming infants or drunken crowd-rousers on their way to the stag night. Lucky buggers.
Today’s listener has to accommodate all that and much more, which can make listening to your music not only difficult, but additionally dangerous.
Now, though, current science has stumbled across a means in which you’ll be able to still listen to your favourite songs, even if you’re wearing earplugs (no, I’ve not been sniffing discarded paint cans again). It’s called bone conduction tech and no, despite the marginally odd name, it in truth does not harm…
According to recent research, contact with any sound over 100 decibels wears away a membrane known as the myelin sheath and leaves your internal ear susceptible to problems like tinnitus and temporary deafness, which can be the beginning of even more significant problems. Bone conduction technology is developed to bypass many sensitive portions of the ear and reduce the risk of inner-ear damage.
How? Well, so as to know that, we have to first understand how our ears essentially work. (HERE COMES THE SCIENCE-Y BIT) Basically, noise travels though the space, these sound waves are intercepted by several structures within the ear and are eventually translated and transmitted into our brains (if it helps, imagine it like the encoding/decoding of digital information, like that which guides the actions of the wireless mouse).
The sound waves first encounter a piece of cartilage (yes, similar stuff a shark’s skeleton is made of), which helps to focus the sound, this is called a pinna (but you may call it your outer ear without looking too stupid).
Then, the sound waves pass into your middle ear, that is filled with air and in addition includes both your aural canal and your eardrum (my little brother burst his when he was little and nearly burst mine crying about it). The eardrum vibrates, passing the sound through to the ossicles, which are three small bones (that are actually pretty necessary to your sense of steadiness, I’m told). These tiny bones transmit the sound to the cochlea, which is a fluid-filled infrastructure that ‘encodes’ the signals for our brain to ‘decode’.
Bone conduction tech vibrates the bones of your skull, distributing the noise directly to the cochlea and bypassing the rest of the ear completely. The nerve impulses transmitted to the human brain are precisely the same, however the sensitive mechanism of the ear does not have to deal with the hassle of, to quote Anchorman’s Brick Tamland “LOUD NOISES!”
This method seems to be completely safe; in reality, the eminently deaf composer Beethoven applied a elementary version of this process to be able to create his most well-known works. He attached a rod between his piano and his head and, as such, was able to hear the music he was playing.
So there you go, rather than exposing your sensitive ears to louder and louder volumes, to drown out the background noise, you are able to alternativily stick your earpugs in and play your music at the correct volume. Make no bones about it (groan!)