Claim your bonus gift: give any amount to get 4 KaiPA coasters! Donate today
Codebreaker

Cringeworthy sounds

Marc Sanchez Nov 1, 2011

Nails on a blackboard.

There. You don’t even have to hear actual nails on a blackboard; you just have to read that sentence, and your neck scrunches back and your eyes begin to shut. Why is that? Researchers in Germany and Austria have just published a study claiming that it’s the shape of our inner ear that causes this gut-wrenching reaction. Wired reports that the sounds of “chalk on a slate, styrofoam squeaks, a plate being scraped by a fork,” all produce frequencies that actually get louder as they enter our ears. The researchers say they are going to continue their studies trying to remove these frequencies from places like factories and machinery. I, for one, do not want to be used as a guinea pig.

As a nonprofit news organization, our future depends on listeners like you who believe in the power of public service journalism.

Your investment in Marketplace helps us remain paywall-free and ensures everyone has access to trustworthy, unbiased news and information, regardless of their ability to pay.

Donate today — in any amount — to become a Marketplace Investor. Now more than ever, your commitment makes a difference.