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Ben Lien
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The sound scale covers frequencies that aren't generally thought of as sounds, so what stimuli are we deaf to? Is it meaningful to say we can't hear the ocean going up and down with the tides? (10E-4.6 Hz) That may be about the same frequency of pressure change from a low-pressure weather system passing through, which some people can sense, although mostly in the joints. My inner ear can detect pressure changes from altitude changes at fractional Hertz. At some point, especially on the low end, it becomes meaningless to think of vibration frequencies as "sound." I would agree, however, that ultrasound is a notable gap in human perception, especially when compared with bats and porpoises. Regarding the electromagnetic spectrum, my skin can detect some frequencies of infrared, although frequency differentiation is not possible, and direction of arrival is difficult to determine. I suppose that's pretty weak, so I'm forced to concede significant blindness. The question of what we are missing, though, hasn't been addressed. I suspect the only ultrasound I am routinely subject to comes from switching power supplies, which I'm happy to miss, although it might be fun to hear bats at night. For the electromagnetic spectrum, I'm not convinced there is much information coming to me from natural sources, except in near-IR and UV, which might be nice to see. Sensing pulses from astronomical events doesn't sound useful, but probably happens across the spectrum.
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Feb 28, 2013