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Everyone sounds like Donald Duck

to an elephant
  [vote for,

Speaking with inhaled helium causes the vocal cords to vibrate faster, raising the vocal pitch. With the present invention, the outer ear canal is filled with helium, and sealed with an acoustically transparent tape. In this helium environment, the tympanic membrane vibrates faster in response to sound, and the pitch of everything is increased. Everyone sounds like Donald Duck.

While entertaining, this invention also has scientific applications. Using helium enhanced hearing, one can directly experience the sub-sonic dialogue of elephants, the sexual vocal stylizations of bull sperm whales, or even the groaning of stressed bedrock just prior to an earthquake.

Alternatively, using a heavy gas instead of helium brings ultrasonic sounds down into hearing range. Using a heavy gas in one ear and helium in the other, the full acoustic spectrum of nature is revealed.
pluterday, Mar 02 2003

Velkommen til Donald Duck http://www.disney.no/DonaldDuck/
Primary Google. [Cedar Park, Oct 04 2004]

frequency translator http://www.halfbake...quency_20translator
sort of related idea by [jutta] [krelnik, Oct 04 2004]

Hardware assisted inter-species translation http://www.halfbake...ecies_20translation
related to the elephant/whale part, idea by [sadie] [krelnik, Oct 04 2004]

Just duck in here http://www.halfbake.../idea/Helium_20city
for a mighty fine time. [neelandan, Oct 04 2004]

The Story of Donald Duck http://disney.go.co.../donald/donald.html
Even Disney says he is unintelligible! [Canuck, Oct 04 2004]


       //Using helium enhanced hearing, one can directly experience the sub-sonic dialogue of elephants, the sexual vocal stylizations of bull sperm whales, or even the groaning of stressed bedrock just prior to an earthquake.//
Oh, really?
thumbwax, Mar 02 2003

       [thumb] Yes, it's sort of an interspecies communication lubrication...with the whales though, you obviously have to be underwater. Groanings of earthquakes? I'll have to talk to my marketing manager about that one...
pluterday, Mar 02 2003

       If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it must be a sperm whale.
RayfordSteele, Mar 02 2003

       "Breathing a gas heavier than air [such as Sulphur Hexafluoride] lowers the vocal tract resonances in frequency."   

       You mean that a diver listening to another in a helium-rich atmosphere would hear an *even higher* pitched voice?
FarmerJohn, Mar 02 2003

       //You mean...//
[Farmer] That's the logic of it. They are double ducked into the ultrasonic range, so they can't hear each other at all...
pluterday, Mar 02 2003

       There's more to me than meets the eye tw.
Helium, Mar 02 2003

       I'm sorry if I'm making serious what was meant to be a silly idea, but I believe you are mistaken. It is true that inhaling helium allows the vocal chords to vibrate more rapidly, which increases the frequency (and hence pitch) of your voice. However, filling the ear with helium will not increase the frequency of sound. At most, I could imagine the ear drum to be more dynamically responsive allowing higher tones to be heard - but they'd still sound like higher tones.   

       As far as I know, you just can't mechanically increase the frequency of sound on the listening end. Think of sound as waves in a pool. Your friend on the other side of the pool is continuously spashing out SOS (...---... where . is a small wave and - is a large wave). Each wave is 1 second apart. If it were possible for you to speed up receiving your friend's message to a wave every .5 seconds, you will soon be receiving his next call for help before he has sent it.
Worldgineer, Mar 03 2003

       //you will soon be receiving his next call for help before he has sent it//

[Worldgineer] Excellent! The time travel breakthru I've been looking for...and all you have to do is fill your ears with helium!
pluterday, Mar 03 2003

       Give your friend some helium ears, and you can warn him that he'll be in trouble soon.
Worldgineer, Mar 03 2003

       Worldgineer - incorrect //If it were possible for you to speed up receiving your friend's message to a wave every .5 seconds, you will soon be receiving his next call for help before he has sent it.//   

       The frequency of a wave does not determine the duration of that sound. You are changing the pitch but at the same time increasing the duration(time that that particular pitch is emmited), called flange modulation I believe.   

       A lot of todays pop-stars use this technique to enhance their music, listen to that Cher song "believe" if you don't believe me.
Trodden, Mar 04 2003

       [Trod] I hear what you're saying, and this is definately possible digitally. However, I challenge you to come up with a way of doing that mechanically - such as with helium.   

       BTW. I am not incorrect. And I never said the frequency of the wave determines the duration of the sound. Your friend can splash out SOS all day for all I care, but if you're receiving the pulses at twice the rate he's emitting them then something's fishy.
Worldgineer, Mar 04 2003

       At best (with a very poor likelihood at that) this would produce a specific harmonic or harmonics within the confined helium-filled space, and only at certain frequencies with wavelengths corresponding to whole, half or multiple wave containment within said space. A relatively thorough check yields nothing to indicate that it is possible to induce a change in frequency perception by surrounding an audio receptor (ear, microphone, etc.) with gases of different densities. Density will only affect the speed at which sound can travel through a given medium.

I would wager, however, that this will threaten your ability to produce offspring. After all... you're walking around with tape on your ears, silly.
X2Entendre, Mar 04 2003

       //Everyone sounds like Donald Duck//
I agree
thumbwax, Mar 04 2003

Helium, Mar 04 2003

       When I was a kid, I used to have a 33 1/3 RPM Disney's Chip N' Dale record album that featured many vocal skits with the two chipmunks hassling Donald Duck. My record player was sufficiently old to have a 16 RPM setting on it. I used to listen to this record at that speed.   

       The chipmunks' voices were slowed to normal rates. You would hear two men talking very slowly and in exaggerated tones, occasionally interspersed with slow Donald, who now sounded like an alcoholic who smoked too much.
waugsqueke, Mar 04 2003

       This could explain a few things.
egbert, Mar 04 2003

       I have been simmering slowly here, allowing all you people to live out your little fantasies about using helium to sound like Donald Duck, but now I've had enough. I have snapped. You have gone too far. When you speak after you have inhaled helium you do not sound like Donald at all. The effect of helium does nothing to make a typical voice sound raspy and unintelligible as Donald Duck himself does. No, the effect, the raising of the pitch of the voice, more closely resembles Mickey Mouse himself. I know, I know, Michael Eisner would be spinning in his grave if he were dead right now, but that is the truth. Mock Mickeys of the world unite! We have nothing to fear but a lack of helium!
Canuck, Mar 05 2003

       // the raising of the pitch of the voice, more closely resembles Mickey Mouse//
I agree
thumbwax, Mar 05 2003

       Helium doesn't make your vocal folds vibrate faster. Sound just travels faster through helium than through the usual mix we exhale.
Helen Highwater, Jun 26 2003

       But the space this is happening in isn't filled with helium; it's filled with air.
snarfyguy, Jun 26 2003

       Oh no... she came. Now I'm going to have to reevaluate all sorts of things in my life.
RayfordSteele, Jun 26 2003

       What you need to do is not raise the frequency of vibrations to match the resonant frequency of something in the ear, but lower the resonant frequency of something in the ear to match the vibrations. If they are like stringed instruments then soaking them might change it, by changing the tension. Or drying them out if they're already in fluid, but that sounds bad for them. I don't know what the resonating bits are like really though.   

       Maybe the helium thing would work, but if it made something vibrate faster, that would mean the pitch was higher than it sounded, not make it sound higher, so it would work in reverse, making sounds seem lower than otherwise, and you'd need a different gas to hear low pitched sounds.   

       For example, if there's a resonator that usually vibrates at 100 Hz it should sound like 100 Hz sounds usually do, and if you slow its frequency down to 50 or 60 Hz, the mains hum should then sound like 100 Hz.
caspian, Jan 03 2005

       A practical example of frequency shifting (or actually, wavelength shifting):

Computer chips are made by a process that employs photosensitive masking. The size of a feature on the chip is diffraction limited, so the smaller the wavelength you use, the smaller you can make a chip element, and the more elements you can pack in. UV is used nowadays because is easy to generate and handle, and the wavelength is smaller than that of visible light.

Of course there’s still a limit. You could go to X-rays and get smaller elements, but that would mean throwing away a lot of expensive equipment. And X-rays are difficult to handle compared to UV. The simple solution: work underwater. By working in a medium where the speed of light is less, the UV is shifted to shorter wavelengths. And voila, you can make smaller elements with the same equipment.
ldischler, Jan 03 2005

       Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your helium-filled ears.
normzone, Jan 04 2005


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