By Aditya Bharadwaj

2019-02-09 13:14:02 8 Comments

The eardrum is pretty thin.Therefore it should be very sensitive to movement.So, why don't we hear the air that is constantly moving.My guess is that the force of air pressure is not enough.Maybe I am right, but I want to make sure.


@Anthony X 2019-02-09 17:14:37

The answer depends on the kind of motion you are thinking of.

As PhysicsDoc points out, random motion at the molecular level averages out such that only a net effect will actually move the eardrum.

For larger scale movement, we need to understand a bit about how hearing works.

Perception of sound depends upon the movement of tiny hairs in the cochlea, which functions as a sort of mechanical frequency analyzer. Sounds transmitted into the cochlea excite the movement of hairs according to the frequency of the sound, which in turn stimulate associated nerves, creating the perception of sound at that frequency. See this for a more in-depth explanation. Due to this arrangement, it is not possible to "hear" a simple change in pressure – it must be periodic – a vibration, and it must have a frequency within some range (normal human hearing is between about 16 Hz and 20 000 Hz).

So, simple movement of air won't be detected by the ear as sound; there must be some repetition at some frequency.

@RinkyPinku 2019-02-10 01:13:38

Can you provide a reliable/respected source of your claim create standing waves at different positions? Mixing biology bling-bling with physics excites newbies but unless proven otherwise, asserting that it is not possible to "hear" ... must be cyclic is forceful correlation of two very different things. Your assertion is imaginative

@Anthony X 2019-02-10 02:01:12

@RinkyPinku The "standing waves" bit was my interpretation on how I remembered a long-ago explanation of hearing. I was a bit off and have adjusted my explanation slightly, as well as included a link to a more detailed explanation.

@The Fool 2019-02-10 13:32:17

I think it is because of frequency. You can only hear the soundwaves when they are in your personal range of hearable sounds. You probably know a dog whistle, why can't you hear it's sound? Because the frequency is above your range. So I think moving air in the room is just way below your range as it moves very slow.

@Vincent Fourmond 2019-02-09 19:50:04

We do. That's what sound is: the movement of the air ! However, we can only hear vibrations that are in the range from (about) 20 Hz to 20000 Hz. It is very likely that the movements you are thinking about are slow, and therefore much lower in frequency than 20 Hz, which is why we don't hear them.

@David Richerby 2019-02-09 19:52:29

You seem to be claiming that fewer than 20 air molecules hit my eardrum every second. That seems like a very small number.

@Vincent Fourmond 2019-02-09 20:27:04

No. I am not talking about the number of molecules, but the frequency of the vibration. A vibration is a collective (average) movement of a very very large number of molecules of air. The frequency corresponds to how many times this movement reverses per second (with a factor if 2)

@Ishan Jawale 2019-02-09 14:50:14

The ear drum mainly responds to change in external pressure ie.vibrations. When you are in a room , the ear drum is in equilibrium with the external pressure , hence it doesn't detect any vibrations . However if you start running or in a vehicle going at a high speed you'll will hear a faint sound of the wind, which is because of the fact that the air pressure on the ear drum is changing and not constant hence causing ear drum to vibrate.

@PhysicsDoc 2019-02-09 14:40:38

Because of the very large number of gas molecules the collision rate is very high and so individual collisions cannot be detected. The impulsive forces simply integrate up to produce a steady pressure.

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