Sometimes Behave so Strangely

I suggest you listen to this when you aren’t in the mood for instant gratification. Imagine climbing a mountain and coming across a wondrous landscape or walking into a host of fireflies. Absolutely breathtaking. The link that follows is one of those enlightening experiences – Musical Language from Radiolab. Arising out of a perfectly innocent string of words spoken with normal intonation, it changes character when heard in a loop. It forces you to reconsider what you have accepted as fact all along – that music and speech are different. I can see the skepticism rise, but indulge me. Is there a difference between words that are spoken and sung? Would you ever believe it is possible to confuse the two?

It isn’t just the rhythm or the beat. The best-written pieces of prose have a character of their own. And so do symphonies. Music and speech ought to be separate, distinct, but you find that they are not watertight. Audio illusions, though not as popular as optical ones show how our ears can be fooled. There are bells falling through space, a drum beat that seems to accelerate even though it doesn’t, a matchbox being shaken and rattled at various points around you, and most fascinating – your mind constructs the words when you hear a meaningless noise.

But the one that drives a whole lot of adults batty because they cannot hear it is the mosquito ringtone. High pitched, it’s easily audible to teens but inaudible to adults – and it became quite popular. Imagine the coolness factor of having your phone ring in class and everyone hears it except for the professor. Dog whistles have been around for over a hundred years and are a great way to train dogs ‘silently’ since human ears don’t pick up the high frequencies. And if you are looking for more tricks to see how your senses perceive things quite out of the ordinary, here are a handful of things to try