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eshuster's picture

Sound, Beethoven, and Receptors

I want to talk about sound, vibrations and touch. In class we spoke about how humans cannot sense infrared because we do not have these receptors or we cannot feel magnetic fields because we lack these sensors as well. It brings up the question of sound? As the saying goes, if a tree falls and no one is there to hear it does it really make a sound? Well I want to ask my own question. If a tree falls and only a deaf man is present does the tree make a sound? Well, if sound is considered sound only if someone has heard it than in both cases the tree has not made a sound. However, if sound is considered a wave that vibrates from the ground as the tree falls then a sound was created in both instances. What about the deaf man? Can he hear the sound? If one takes a look at these two questions initially, the answer is clear, the deaf man cannot hear. But, if you think of sound as a vibration than why can’t the man feel the vibration? It’s as though I was at a concert, I can feel sound vibration if I’m standing close enough to the stage. The base is making vibrations that shake the stage and I don’t need to have proper hearing to feel these sound vibrations.

Another question posed is, if I couldn’t hear the sound and only felt the vibrations could I interpret what exactly I would hear if I weren’t deaf? Meaning would the music have been interpreted the same was through the vibrations I felt as opposed to the vibrations I heard? This brings up an interesting point, what about Beethoven? He became deaf in life and starting feeling the vibrations of the music to create his symphonies. He didn’t have sound receptors but how could he interpret what he felt into what it would sound like? Would his music have been the same if he wouldn’t have gone death? Its also interesting to think about what he thought his music sounded like and what it sounds like to someone who can hear properly? Is it the same? Are there any variations? If Beethoven didn’t need sound receptors to hear the music do we not need sound receptors to hear music? Do we have sound vibration receptors throughout our body that we, non deaf individuals, ignore? Maybe, we have different receptors on our body that aid our interpretation of sound but aren’t as pronounced until we lose our sense of hearing. These questions interest me a great deal. If this is the case, is it possible that humans have some kind of receptors for infrared or magnetic fields that aren’t pronounced in our bodies unlike fish and birds? What if one day we find these receptors? If we find them are they active or could they have mutated to an inactive form? These questions came up as I thought about Tuesday’s lecture.



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