Saturday, July 12, 2008


"Bite Me"

No, really -- it's my piece in the new Believer music issue:

The auditory capacities of teeth may be demonstrated through a simple test. First, find a quiet room to sit in. If you are wearing an analog watch, remove it from your wrist. Open your mouth wide and suspend the timepiece inside your mouth without actually touching your teeth. You will hear a quiet ticking. But close your teeth upon the watch, and you will hear a loud ticking.

This is because you are hearing with your teeth....

I've been meaning for ages to do an article on the weird world of bone conduction and osteophones. I blame my fascination with the subject on exposure at an early age to a Bone Fone ad in the November 1980 issue of Modern Mechanics.

Some links to the peculiar stuff mentioned in the article:

• A heartwarming scene of people biting on rubber "sound catching" audiphone fans to hear music.

• This amazing close-up illustration from 1882 of an audiphone in action.

• Electric dentures! ... Electric dentures! ... Need I say more?

• I think the 1959 patent filing on this one speaks for itself:
The present invention relates generally to a smoking pipe hearing aid and more particularly to an acoustic smoking pipe apparatus wherein a single unit functions as a tobacco pipe and also as a self-contained hearing aid utilizing osseous or bone conduction, i.e., conversion of sound waves to mechanical vibrations which are transmitted through the teeth and bone structure of the head to the auditory organs.
"Of course I'm listening to you, honey... I'm smoking my pipe."

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