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The Incredible Ear

By now, we all know how the ear works. Sound waves are funneled into the middle ear where they vibrate the eardrum which activates the hammer, anvil and stirrup which activate the fluid in the cochlea which then sends nerve impulses to the eighth cranial nerve of the brain which interprets them into sound.

You knew that, right?

And you also knew that our ability to balance ourselves in whatever position we’re in is due to the delicate flow of the fluids within the organs of the inner ear. (Funny that the ancient Hebrew word for ear is “oznaim” and the word for balance in Hebrew is “moznaim”. I guess they knew that back then, too).

And isn’t it “fortunate” that the outer ear is made of soft cartilage instead of bone, like all of our other appendages (except for the nose but for the same reason)? Perhaps that’s so we don’t crack them off when we sleep on a too hard pillow (or worse, a rock).

All makes perfect sense.

What I don’t understand is – earlobes. Why do we need them?

The most obvious answer used to be – that’s where you put your earrings! But with the advent of nose rings, belly rings, lip rings and tongue rings, we’re back to the same question – why do we need earlobes? Put your rings anywhere!

Were you ever sitting in your car at a red light and all of a sudden your car starts vibrating – boom da da boom da da boom! And you look out your window and there’s some wild looking guy driving a ten year old jalopy bopping along with his radio blasting what sounds like primeval jungle music? And every time his radio goes boom, your hands feel the steering wheel shake?

If sound waves can do that to your car, imagine what they can do to your ear. So some Intelligent Designer decided to add a counterweight to the ear so that when loud sounds enter the funnel, the earlobe weighs down the flexible cartilage so it doesn’t vibrate and distort the sound.

Flexible. Un"shake"able. Incredible.

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Comments icon July 22, 2011


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