Robert M. Keolian
Naval Postgraduate School, Dept. of Phys., Code PH/Kn, Monterey, CA 93943
Part of the mystery of the cochlea, the organ of hearing in mammals, is how it distinguishes different frequencies from one another so well. Even though the cochlea is small, filled with fluid, and made out of tissue, its frequency selectivity corresponds to a quality factor Q which is quite high---about 300. Part of the answer lies with an unusual traveling wave that deposits the energy of different frequencies at different positions. This will be shown with a lecture demonstration that displays the physics of this wave.