The megaphone—first seen in historical artifacts from Ancient Greece and in Native-American artistic depictions of a chief, is a tool used even today to equalize the proverbial sound field. Samuel Morland and Athanasius Kircher are credited to have independently “invented” the modern acoustic version of this useful device around the seventeenth century 1.
The pure acoustics of a horn may have been augmented by the power of electronics since then, but the use of the megaphone has stayed with us. Today, megaphones are often at the center of social movements, political rallies, and other events that catch our attention even in the noisy world of anything-is-news.
Speaking of catching someone’s attention—have you ever thought of taking a megaphone to the club, or the crowded meet-and-mingle bar? A tiny little tree cricket does. It turns out that scientists had known about the baffling phenomenon of little crickets being just as noisy as large crickets when it came time to attract a mate, and had given the phenomenon the creative name “baffling.” But now scientists from the Indian Institute of Science have found the secret behind baffling.
They report that smaller male crickets position themselves strategically on leaves while chirping to attract females. They use these leaf surfaces as megaphones adding about 10 dB to their calls and equalizing the playing field with larger males able to produce louder chirps2. The natural world never seizes to amaze, … err baffle.
“Huh?” is used in at least 31 languages around the world! A version of the word can be found in nearly every language on Earth (Dingemanse et al, 2013). This research concluded that all languages studied included a word similar, in both sound and function, to the English “huh?” Regardless of language, the word is…
If you have a dog or cat, you’ve probably seen their ears moving toward an interesting or startling sound. For professional equestrians, watching the ears of their horse allows them to gauge their shifting attention. Humans still have these same muscles, and even more interesting is their relationship to our brain and how we pay attention. …
Tai Chi is not just for increasing balance; it may also help improve cognitive performance. In a recent randomized controlled trial, study participants who practiced a form of Tai Chi twice a week for six months improved their scores on the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) when compared to a control group (Fuzhong et al, 2023)….