The ability to recognize sounds and identify their location is possible thanks to the auditory system. That’s comprised of two main parts: the ear, and the brain. The ear’s task is to convert sound energy into neural signals; the brain’s is to receive and process the information those signals contain.
Follow the waves of pressure traveling through air, liquids and solids—vibrations that create sound—into your auditory system in this highly-detailed TED-Ed: The Science of Hearing by Douglas L. Oliver, animation by Cabong Studios.
Related links: The eardrum, hair cells, and tinnitus.
Related reading: Adventures in Sound with Max Axiom, Super Scientist.Related videos: What’s the Loudest Possible Sound? and Schlieren flow visualizations: What Does Sound Look Like?
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