Perk up your ears, everybody, it’s time to talk about perking up your ears.
Our entire show is based on the idea that we might say something interesting enough that it might get you to perk up your ears, figuratively speaking.
Or not so figuratively speaking: scientists at Saarland University in Germany have found evidence that human ears actually do perk up at certain sounds.
Cats, dogs and numerous other creatures can actually pivot their ears toward a sound when it’s something they think they need to hear.
My cats used to do it anytime anytime that wasn’t me said something.
Our ears don’t do exactly that, but the team at Saarland looked at the electrical activity in the ear muscles and found that we have at least some elements of a system that tries to orient the outside of our ears toward sounds.
Three types of sounds in particular: novel sounds, ones we hadn’t heard before; unusual sounds, ones outside the norm, and “goal-oriented sounds,” the sounds that we want to hear in case they help us get what we want.
The theory is that this is what’s called a vestigial system; it was once useful but isn’t really used now and doesn’t have any particular function.
But if you want to tell people at parties that you’ve got a secret hearing ability that most people don’t know about, well, you wouldn’t be wrong, would you?
And since we’ve been talking about hearing, here’s something about ears of a different kind: in the community of Dublin, in central Ohio, an artistic tribute to farmer Sam Frantz, who helped develop many types of hybrid corn seeds.
The farm field has been turned into a sculpture garden, with 109 giant concrete ears of corn.
Just don’t try to eat them.
Field of Giant Corn Cobs (Roadside America)
Interesting button photo by russell davies via Flickr/Creative Commons