First, a word from Jacelyn:
Hi everybody–it’s Jacelyn making a rare appearance! In these first weeks of the semester we’ve had some really fun professors, and have also been learning lots of interesting “factoids”. So, I’ve come across lots of little tidbits I wanted to put on the blog. Here’s my second installment!In our inner ear we have 2 types of really tiny hair cells: inner hair cells and outer hair cells. It is the job of hair cells to take the vibration of sound waves that come in the ear and turn it into a signal that can be sent to and understood by the brain.
First, the outer hair cells amplify the sound by 1000x–which is why we can hear very soft sounds like a whisper. The outer hair cells amplify sound by contracting–which is what you’ll see in the video below. These hair cells have an internal motor, called Prestin, that enables them to contract. They contract right along with the frequency of the sound waves that are coming to them–this can be seen very nicely in the video. (Frequency is “pitch”. The sound of ladies singing very high at the opera has a high frequency and the hair cell would be contracting very quickly.)Anyway, the contraction of the outer hair cells causes the inner hair cells to bend–and the bending starts the signal that is sent to the brain. So, the video below shows the contraction of an outer hair cell. It’s a magnified view of a real, living hair cell. Somehow it’s cute! And, you’re outer hair cells are doing the same thing while you watch the video. Click HAIR to enjoy.
(Infomercial guy voice) Thanks, Jacelyn! WOW, so cool!!! (applause)
(Nic’s voice) Get your own blog; this is hard work.
Anyway, the final story of today involves true sacrifice for a total stranger. When I boarded the plane from Dallas to San Juan, last night, I was in the second-to-last row, by a window, with the row directly behind me being empty. As I settled in, I heard a girl one row up, to the left, on the aisle request the window seat in the empty row behind me. The flight attendant informed her that those seats were blocked off. She looked disappointed and, since I don’t have Jacelyn with me, it matters not where I sit; so, I offered her my window seat in exchange for the aisle seat, which had an empty seat directly to the right across the aisle. She gladly switched and I felt that warm goodness inside that you get from a deeply sacrificial act or from jumping on a trampoline too soon after eating warm tuna.
The flight was going very well until a man across the aisle and one row up got up and asked the people across from me if he could sit in the empty seat. (Logistics matter here in a second, so picture the scene.) (I’ll wait) (Or should I say, “aisle weight”?) They said yes, the restless man pivoted to face the empty seat, apparently to fix the seat belt, and bent over. That is when it happened. This 45-year-old man’s pants slid half-way down is behind, exposing his “bare-ness” to my face. I VERY quickly slid my pub cap down to cover my face from the blinding, reverse-oreo-ness taking place to my right. I’m glad I did, because a moment after shielding myself, I felt his cheeks push against the hat. I kid you not. I joke about much, but not about this sort of thing. I joke about the functions, never the machines. Anyway, the girl to my right was doing everything in her power to not belly laugh at my misfortune. The man stayed that way for a good 25 seconds, consistently wiggling slightly, before sitting, at which point I prepped the barf bag, closed my eyes, and tried to picture happy things (all I could come up with was either huge jowls on an albino dog or two piles of mashed potatoes wrapped in a belt)
Things were calm for a little while until the man needed to use the restroom. (Why always the bathrooms, with me?) I immediately began praying that it was a “quick trip” which would leave no time for a Valsalva. My prayers were unheeded, heaven was brass, and dread set in. After 15 minutes, the man returned, out of breath. I readied the pub cap, he bent over, and only my imagination and my hat know what happened in the next 25 seconds. When he finally groaned his way into his seat, I lowered the hat and glanced backwards for moral support. I was greeted by the sleeping girl whose seat I was in, and 6 other people (including the flight attendant and an 80-year-old couple) silently doubled over and shaking with laughter.
When we got off the plane, I waited for the flight attendant. As soon as she saw me, she pointed and guffawed. When I asked her if I got a free flight or something for putting up with the bare end of the deal, she said, “No, but you have a GREAT story!” Hence this post.
If you pray, when you pray, pray for us.
On to the next thing…