How Hearing Works in the Ear
Before we dive into what the doppler effect is, it’s a good idea to have a basic understanding of how hearing works. Our environment transmits sound waves to our brains. These sound waves travel from our outer ear to our middle ear, then from the inner ear to our brain.
The cochlea is a spiral-shaped organ in the inner ear, containing auditory cells with tiny hair bundles known as stereocilia. These auditory cells convert sound wave vibrations into neural signals that get sent to the brain so that they can be interpreted as meaningful sound.
This auditory process is very complex and any damage to this system can cause various types of hearing loss.
What is the Doppler Effect?
The Doppler effect can be described as the change between the frequency at which waves leave a source and that at which they reach an observer, caused by relative motion of the observer and the wave source.
Here is a great real life example that most of us experience in our daily lives. As a fire truck approaches with its sirens on, the sirens become louder and louder as it comes close to us and becomes quieter as it drives off. Essentially, this effect describes the change in frequency of a wave from an object in relative motion.
How Does the Doppler Effect Work?
When an object is in motion, the air around it becomes disturbed, creating sound waves. These sound waves are small pressure fluctuations in air and travel to the ear allowing us to hear a sound. The distance between each wave is called a wavelength, so the length of the wave determines what we hear.
The sound we hear also depends on the closeness and the speed of the object. The closer we are to the object producing sound, the shorter the wavelengths are, indicating a higher frequency and higher pitch; whereas if the object is farther, the pitch and frequency are lower since the wavelengths are longer. This change in pitch when the object moves closer than away from us is what creates the doppler effect.
The Doppler effect can be applied to other things aside from sound. Astronomers often use the doppler effect to determine how fast stars and galaxies are moving from us by measuring the frequency of light that is emitted. The doppler effect can also be applied in weather observation, police speed detectors, and even measuring blood flow in the body.
We hope you enjoyed reading and learning about the doppler effect, and we hope this article was helpful in showcasing how it affects our hearing and is prevalent in our everyday lives.
AudioCardio is a technology company focused on hearing health and wellness. Learn how AudioCardio can help maintain and strengthen your hearing with your favorite headphones or hearing aids at www.audiocardio.com.