Know Your Body: Ears

You can’t learn anything unless you keep your ears open. Speaking of which...

19 ears

Right Ear, Right Now
Just like fingerprints, ears are totally unique to the individual—big tech firms have even explored being able to unlock a mobile when simply held to the ear. That said, every human ear is divided into three distinct parts: the outer ear, the middle ear and the inner ear. The outer ear is the bit you see (obviously) and directs sound further inside. The middle ear consists of three bones so tiny they can all fit on the same penny—the malleus, incus, and stapes—which transmit and amplify sound to the inner ear. A small snail shell-like “hearing organ” called the cochlea in the inner ear transforms these sounds into electrical impulses, which get sent up to our brain via auditory nerves. Bish-bosh-bash, we can hear stuff!

Sounds Like Mean Spirit
Of course, not all sounds are welcome. A study by scientists at Newcastle University revealed a knife scraping against a bottle was the most unpleasant sound, while other cringe-worthy favourites included a fork scratching on a plate; chalk on a blackboard; a ruler on a bottle; nails on a blackboard; a baby crying; an electric drill; rusty swing chains; a person retching; and two pieces of expanded polystyrene rubbing together.

Wax On, Wax Off
Ears are clever because they can self-clean: The outer third of the ear canal produces ear wax (aka, cerumen), which protects our ears. It then exits the ear via microscopic hairs, creeping out as we tilt our jaw to talk or eat. Make sure you clean behind them though—they’re not that smart.