How Old Are Your Ears? Find Out With This Hearing Test.

The Citizen's Guide to the Future
Aug. 15 2013 4:27 PM

How Old Are Your Ears? Find Out With This Hearing Test.

Come again?

Photo by JACQUELYN MARTIN/AFP/Getty Images

If you're anything like us, you haven't heard the high-pitched tones of a hearing test since fifth grade. Remember how proud you were to raise your hand at the nice lady every few seconds to indicate everything was coming in loud and clear?
 Well, prepare to feel a lot less proud. The folks at AsapScience are here with a hearing test to show that even if you're smarter than a fifth-grader, you probably can't hear as well as one.

The video starts with a pitch of 8,000 Hz, which every non-hearing-impaired person under 500 ought to be able to hear, and cranks up the dial till it reaches 19,000 Hz, which you probably can't hear unless you're under 20, or a dog. Why are hearing tests always made up of annoying squeals rather than regular sounds? As the narrator explains, sound waves break and bend the hair cells that transmit sound through the ear canal. And as it happens, the hair cells in charge of higher pitches are the first ones hit by incoming sound, so they're the first to go. The older you are, the less annoying the background noise on an airplane gets, because you simply can’t hear it.


Be sure to play the video at 1080p (yes, the sound quality is linked to the picture quality) and while wearing headphones. You can change the video's resolution by clicking on the little gear symbol in the bottom right of the screen. Or don't watch the video at all, if you'd rather not find out your ears are 12 years older than they should be, like mine. I knew those years as a roadie for GWAR would catch up to me.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Ryan Vogt is a Slate copy editor.


Medical Examiner

Here’s Where We Stand With Ebola

Even experienced international disaster responders are shocked at how bad it’s gotten.

It’s Legal for Obama to Bomb Syria Because He Says It Is

Divestment Is Fine but Mostly Symbolic. There’s a Better Way for Universities to Fight Climate Change.

I Stand With Emma Watson on Women’s Rights

Even though I know I’m going to get flak for it.

It Is Very Stupid to Compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice

Building a Better Workplace

In Defense of HR

Startups and small businesses shouldn’t skip over a human resources department.

Why Are Lighter-Skinned Latinos and Asians More Likely to Vote Republican?

How Ted Cruz and Scott Brown Misunderstand What It Means to Be an American Citizen

  News & Politics
View From Chicago
Sept. 23 2014 11:39 AM Obama Can Bomb Pretty Much Anything He Wants To The real constraint on a president’s war-making powers is political, not legal.
Business Insider
Sept. 23 2014 10:03 AM Watch Steve Jobs Tell Michael Dell, "We're Coming After You"
The Eye
Sept. 23 2014 11:33 AM High-Concept Stuff Designed to Remind People That They Don’t Need Stuff  
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 23 2014 11:13 AM Why Is This Mother in Prison for Helping Her Daughter Get an Abortion?
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus
Sept. 22 2014 1:52 PM Tell Us What You Think About Slate Plus Help us improve our new membership program.
Brow Beat
Sept. 23 2014 11:48 AM Punky Brewster, the Feminist Punk Icon That Wasn’t
Future Tense
Sept. 23 2014 10:51 AM Is Apple Picking a Fight With the U.S. Government? Not exactly.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 23 2014 11:00 AM Google Exec: Climate Change Deniers Are “Just Literally Lying”
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.