Completely stolen from today’s lecture on the auditory (hearing) system, I’ve got two little multimedia pieces for readers today:
* First, a little cochlear damage. The cochlea is a spiral-shaped structure in your inner ear (past your eardrum) that lets people hear. It’s got tiny hair cells that move in response to vibrations (sound waves), and, well, to make a long story short, they’re how you hear. But you can lose these hair cells–from old age, from over-exposure to loud sounds, and depending on the pitch of the sounds, you lose hair cells in a certain area of your cochlea. A great picture to illustrate it:
* And for my favorite–like I mentioned above, the hair cells respond to certain frequencies of vibrations. And one type of these hair cells actually contract when they detect a certain frequency. Even faster than our muscles contract. Anyway, a scientist in the UK isolated one of these contractile hair cells (an outer hair cell), and attached a small voltage sensor and speaker to the cell. Ladies and gentlemen, I present, for your viewing and auditory pleasure, please turn up those speakers and give a warm welcome to… THE DANCING HAIR CELL OF LONDON! (5.2 MB mpeg file).