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iPods of the Sea

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So many of us have grown up thinking that seashells can mimic ocean sounds, almost like “iPods of the Sea.”  But can they, really?

Turns out that when you listen to a shell, you’re not really hearing the sounds of the ocean.  The shapes of seashells just happen to make them great amplifiers of ambiant noise.  What they’re actually doing is acting as a resonator, or a cavity that allows sound to vibrate.  Any air that  makes its way into a shell’s cavity gets bounced around by its hard, curved inner surfaces.  The resonating air produces sound.

By holding a shell up to your ear, you’re hearing the ambient noise around you amplified.  And in many cases, all that whooshing air typically sounds a lot like the movement of cascading waves.

Now don’t you wish you paid more attention in physics class?

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