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Underwater Sound Localization (Posted on 2005-04-14) Difficulty: 2 of 5
Normally, if you hear a sound, you have some idea of where the sound came from. But when a scuba diver hears a sound underwater, it is virtually impossible to tell where it came from.

1. Why?

2. Can you suggest some form of underwater hearing aid type device that would allow more accurate underwater sound localization?

See The Solution Submitted by Larry    
Rating: 4.0000 (5 votes)

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re(3): Questioning the answers... | Comment 8 of 17 |
(In reply to re(2): Questioning the answers... by Erik O.)

Ok then, I agree. It is all about time difference.

I've read a nice article at
that explains how we hear stuff.

It turns out that the polar angle (up and down) is determined by the way sound bounces around in our inner ear. The azimutal angle (left and right) is detirmened by both time differences and volume differences.

Out of all these things that the ear uses, only time difference is affected underwater. I would say that the scuba diver is not so clueless as to where the sound is comming from, just partially impaired.

I agree with the methods suggested to improve the scuba diver's hearing.

Finally, the reason the ear is so much better at detecting time differences than the eye is because the ear is purely MECHANICAL (the ear drums move with the preassure wave). The eyes, on the other hand, use quemical processes which require some time to ocurr.

I have a new respect for our sense of hearing; What is the fastest moving part of your boddy?. The ear drum!.

  Posted by ajosin on 2005-04-14 15:21:13

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