Podcast: What Sounds Can’t I Hear?

by Ryan Schleeter

March 23, 2016

Check out episode 14 of Completely Optional Knowledge, the podcast that answers questions you never knew you had. Some things in life are #CompletelyOptional — satisfying your curiosity doesn’t have to be one of them.

Annie McEwen takes great pride in the range of sounds her highly sensitive ears pick up — things like the drop of a leaking faucet or the low hum of a household heater that others seem to miss. But she’s still only human and her ears have limits. So like a true audiophile, she’s wondering what sounds are out there that even she can’t pick up.

As it turns out, there’s a whole world of sound that we humans are “ear-blind” to (we use only the scientific terms here at Completely Optional Knowledge), much like there’s a whole spectrum of light waves that we can’t see.

Milton Garces of the University of Hawaii’s Infrasound Laboratory, who manages a program to track sounds that are imperceptible to the human ear, broke it down for us. And while Milton is a trained professional with a state-of-the-art lab, all it takes is an iPhone to track the infrasounds floating around you right now.

Headphones in

Gif via m4dtown.tumblr.com.

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You may have noticed that this episode of the podcast came out a little earlier than expected, and with good reason! While we normally release episodes every other week, after last week’s episode we entered the top ten on iTunes’ science podcast charts for the first time — all thanks to your listens! So consider this bonus episode our gift to you. For our longtime listeners out there, leave us a review on iTunes!

Want to listen to more Completely Optional Knowledge? Have a question you’d like to hear answered on the show? Visit us at completelyoptionalknowledge.org! Don’t forget to tune into the conversation on social media using #CompletelyOptional.

Ryan Schleeter

By Ryan Schleeter

Ryan Schleeter is a senior communications specialist with Greenpeace USA covering climate and energy. His writing has appeared in National Geographic, Grist, GreenBiz, EcoWatch, and more. Find him on Twitter @ryschlee.

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