Music is a massive part of daily life also it has been for nearly as long as People have now been on this planet. I often point to a discovery of the 40,000-year-old flute dating back to that ice age as proof for this, but truly, the evidence you may need is all around you, each day. We recall ballads and music long after the people who initially composed them have died and rotted away (a plan which I find curiously comforting) plus the music industry, like it or hate it, is definitely a big business.
However, while the ice age musicians probably survived during a world of stark cruelty, frozen, featureless wastelands and harsh, ‘kill or be killed’ inter-cave politics, they never needed to contend with road works, delivery lorries, screaming children or drunken crowd-rousers on their way to a stag night. Lucky buggers.
Today’s listener has to accommodate all that and much more, which can make listening to your music not just difficult, but also risky.
Now, however, contemporary science has stumbled across a means in which you can still listen to your favorite tunes, even if you’re wearing earplugs (no, I have not been sniffing discarded paint cans yet again). It’s called skeleton conduction tech and no, despite the marginally odd name, it really doesn’t harm…
Based on recent research, contact with any noise over 100 Dbm wears away a membrane known as a myelin sheath and leaves your middle ear prone to problems like tinnitus and temporary deafness, that may be the beginning of even more significant problems. Bone conduction technology is developed to bypass many sensitive portions of the ear and reduce the chance of inner-ear harm.
How? Well, so as to understand that, we have to first understand how our ears actually work. (HERE COMES THE SCIENCE-Y BIT) Principally, sound travels though the air, these sound waves are intercepted by several structures in the ear and are eventually translated and transmitted into our brains (if it helps, visualize it much like the encoding/decoding of digital information, like that which leads the movements of the wireless mouse).
The sound waves first encounter a piece of cartilage (yes, identical stuff a shark’s skeleton is formed of), which allows to concentrate the sound, this is named a pinna (but you are able to call it your outer ear without looking too silly).
Then, the sound waves pass into your central ear, that is filled with air and in addition contains both your acoustic canal plus 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 in fact pretty vital to the sense of balance, I am told). These tiny bones transmit the noise to the cochlea, which is a fluid-filled structure that ‘encodes’ the indicators for our brain to ‘decode’.
Bone conduction technology vibrates the bones of your skull, sending the noise directly to a cochlea and bypassing the rest of the ear entirely. The nerve impulses transmitted to the human brain are exactly the same, however the sensitive mechanism of the ear doesn’t have to deal with the hassle of, to cite Anchorman’s Brick Tamland “LOUD NOISES!”
This method seems to be entirely safe; in fact, the notably deaf composer Beethoven employed a elementary version of this process in order to create his most famous works. He attached a rod linking his piano and his head and, as such, was able to hear the song he was playing.
So there you go, rather than exposing your sensitive ears to louder and louder volumes, to drown out the background noise, it is possible to alternativily stick your earpugs in and play your music at the correct volume. Make no bones about it (groan!)