Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Rocket Science Leads to Discovery About Whale Hearing

26.11.2009
Rocket science is opening new doors to understanding how sounds associated with Navy sonar might affect the hearing of a marine mammal – or if they hear it at all.

The same type of large industrial sized X-ray scanners that NASA uses to detect flaws in the space shuttle’s behemoth solid fuel rockets is now allowing scientists to peek inside the giant head of a whale.

The scans are providing detailed three-dimensional replicas of a whale’s hearing anatomy using a breakthrough method developed by Dr. Ted Cranford, a marine biologist sponsored by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) and the Chief of Naval Operations Environmental Readiness Division (N45).

Using a simulated model of a male beaked whale’s head, Cranford’s team at San Diego State University and the University of California at San Diego (UCSD) has unveiled data that suggests mid-frequency active sonar sounds are largely filtered, or "muffled," before reaching the animal’s ears. The findings also suggest that higher frequencies used by whales to hunt prey are heard at amplified levels without any dampening.

"Even though these findings are promising, our next step is to reproduce the study with a similar species for which hearing tests are available, such as the bottlenose dolphin," Cranford said. "If we obtain like results, it will help to validate this new discovery."

The innovative approach integrates advanced computing, outsized X-ray CT scanners, and modern computational methods (developed by Dr. Petr Krysl at UCSD) to generate the reproductions in minute detail. The simulation, also referred to as a "finite element model" or FEM, accurately describes the interactions of sound with the whale's hearing anatomy. In addition, it forecasts and analyzes incoming sound received at the ear and provides a description of how different characteristics combine to create movement throughout the ear.

"The simulation technology is powerful because it provides a means to look at a broad range of species, from whales to fish, for which we may not otherwise be able to study hearing," said ONR program manager Dr. Michael Weise. "Virtual experiments can also provide potential for evaluating and directing mitigation efforts."

In October, Cranford earned top honors for a presentation titled "Knocking on the Inner Ear in Cuvier's Beaked Whale" at the 18th Biennial Biology of Marine Mammals Conference in Quebec, Canada. The development is gaining widespread attention throughout the scientific community as a credible and highly useful tool.

In 2009, ONR and N45 contributed $20 million for research on marine mammals and the effects of underwater sound. ONR provides the science and technology necessary to maintain the Navy and Marine Corps´ technological advantage. Through its affiliates, ONR is a leader in science and technology with engagement in 50 states, 70 countries, 1,035 institutions of higher learning, and 914 industry partners. ONR employs approximately 1,400 people, comprising uniformed, civilian and contract personnel. N45 works with the fleets, systems commands, and government regulatory agencies to develop effective environmental policy and ensure Sailors and Marines can train and operate in compliance with environmental laws.

Point of Contact:
Office of Naval Research
Corporate Communications Office
Phone: 703-696-5031
Fax: 703-696-5940
E-mail: onrcsc@onr.navy.mil

Peter Vietti | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.navy.mil

Further reports about: CT scanner Marine science N45 Naval Navy ONR Science TV UCSD Whale X-ray microscopy computational method

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Synthetic nanoparticles achieve the complexity of protein molecules
24.01.2017 | Carnegie Mellon University

nachricht Immune Defense Without Collateral Damage
24.01.2017 | Universität Basel

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Quantum optical sensor for the first time tested in space – with a laser system from Berlin

For the first time ever, a cloud of ultra-cold atoms has been successfully created in space on board of a sounding rocket. The MAIUS mission demonstrates that quantum optical sensors can be operated even in harsh environments like space – a prerequi-site for finding answers to the most challenging questions of fundamental physics and an important innovation driver for everyday applications.

According to Albert Einstein's Equivalence Principle, all bodies are accelerated at the same rate by the Earth's gravity, regardless of their properties. This...

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Arctic melt ponds form when meltwater clogs ice pores

24.01.2017 | Earth Sciences

Synthetic nanoparticles achieve the complexity of protein molecules

24.01.2017 | Life Sciences

PPPL physicist uncovers clues to mechanism behind magnetic reconnection

24.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>