Why Do Shells Sound Like the Ocean?

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iStock

Kevin in Bentonville, Arkansas, wrote in to ask this question: "Why do you hear the ocean when you put a seashell up to your ear?"

All right, first things first: no matter how much it may sound like the rolling waves, it's not actually the ocean you're hearing in a shell.

Now that we've got that out of the way, what exactly is it that you're hearing? In a word, noise; the ambient noise that's being produced all around and inside you, which you normally don't hear or pay attention to because it's too quiet.

To amplify this noise so you can hear it clearly, you need a resonator. Want to make one on the cheap? Form an O shape with your mouth and flick your finger against your throat or cheek. You should hear a note. Make a smaller or larger O, or change the shape of your mouth, and you'll get different notes. Sort of like this. What you're doing here is letting your mouth fulfill its potential as a Helmholtz resonator, where sound is produced by air vibrating in a cavity with one opening. Different pitches can be coaxed out by changing the shape of the resonating cavity.

The seashell you're listening to—the inside of which has many hard, curved surfaces great for reflecting sound—is essentially doing the same thing you just did with your mouth. The ambient noise mentioned before—the air moving past and within the shell, the blood flowing through your head, the conversation going on in the next room—is resonating inside the cavity of the shell, being amplified and becoming clear enough for us to notice. Just like the various shapes we make with our mouths will produce different pitches, different sizes and shapes of shell sound different because different resonant chambers will amplify different frequencies.

The fact that all shells sound just a little bit like the ocean is purely coincidental. Holding any sort of Helmholtz resonator to your ear will produce a similar effect, whether that object is associated with the ocean or not. Put an empty glass over your ear or even cup your hand over it, and the sound you hear will be just about the same.

Facebook Is Now Fact-Checking Your Memes

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iStock

Keanu Reeves once gave a stranger an envelope full of cash to pay for his son’s kidney transplant. A shark was seen swimming down the freeway during Hurricane Florence in New Bern, North Carolina. NASA has confirmed that the Earth will go dark for 15 days due to a solar storm. If these stories seem too absurd to be true, it’s because they’re not true.

That hasn’t stopped them from being spread across social media, though. Misinformation on the internet is rampant, and it’s often shared in bite-sized meme format. Now, as CNBC reports, Facebook is taking measures to stop it.

The social media behemoth has announced plans to fact-check information found within memes, pictures, and videos—formats that have generally been harder to monitor. Facebook currently employs third-party fact checkers, but most of those efforts have focused on articles.

“People share millions of photos and videos on Facebook every day,” Facebook said in a statement. “We know that this kind of sharing is particularly compelling because it’s visual. That said, it also creates an easy opportunity for manipulation by bad actors.”

These efforts are partly motivated by the upcoming mid-term elections and the desire to cut down on false political posts and foreign interference. In the U.S., Facebook uses the Associated Press, Factcheck.org, PolitiFact, Snopes.com, and The Weekly Standard Fact Check to verify information. Posts can be flagged and removed for three reasons: manipulation or fabrication, photos or information taken out of context, or false audio, text, or captions. 

[h/t CNBC]

It's True: Men's Pockets Really Are Deeper Than Women's

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iStock

Your phone peeks halfway out of the pocket of your jeans.

Your pocket-sized wallet is too large to fit.

You go to tuck a dollar into the pocket of your new dress pants, only to find that the opening is sewn shut.

If these scenarios sound familiar, you’re probably a woman. As Lifehacker reports, an investigation into 20 popular clothing brands revealed that the pockets on women’s pants really are shallower and narrower than men’s. About half as deep, in fact.

These findings come from The Pudding’s team of journalist-engineers, who produced a visual essay (with interactive infographics!) on the sartorial subject.

The announcement probably won’t surprise women, but for the sake of closing the pocket gap once and for all, the statistics are still worth noting: Women’s jeans pockets are 48 percent shorter and 6.5 percent narrower than men’s.

Furthermore, only 40 percent of front pockets can fit a smartphone—the iPhone X, Samsung Galaxy, and Google Pixel were all put to the test. The same statistic applies to wallets that were specifically designed to fit inside a front pocket. And two percent of women’s pockets can’t even hold a pen (compared to zero percent of men’s pockets).

Remember that time Alanis Morissette sang, “I’ve got one hand in my pocket?” As it turns out, only 10 percent of women can relate to this lyric—the same percentage of women who can actually fit their hand inside their front pocket.

As The Pudding points out, this isn’t just a matter of differences between men’s and women’s sizes, either. “Here we measured 80 pairs of jeans that all boasted a 32 inch waistband, meaning that these jeans were all made to fit the same size person,” The Pudding says.

So what’s going on? Some sources have suggested that the fashion industry is inherently sexist, favoring design over function. "I don't feel like they're taking women seriously as a market," Julie Sygiel, founder of The Pockets Project, told The Week. Sygiel plans to create a line of dresses with pockets that are least 8.5 inches deep.

While this pocketless trend is rooted in history—women started wearing hip purses in the 18th century to compensate for the lack of internal pockets—many women are hoping that the 21st century will be the dawn of a new era for functional fashion.

[h/t Lifehacker]

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