Only certain people can make this sound in their ear. Can you?February 29, 2020
Remember that strange phenomenon where a bunch of women found out they all had the same freckle on their arm?
There’s a new kid on the block when it comes to weird things some people’s bodies can do, and this time it’s all to do with your ears.
A tweet has recently gone viral from science columnist Massimo at Rainmaker1973, stating: ‘A part of the human population can voluntarily control the tensor tympani, a muscle within the ear.’
According to Massimo and the linked Wikipedia article on this, those who can do this are able to create a rumbling sound in their ear and vibrations.
If you’re wondering just what on earth the tweet is referencing, it’s probably because you can’t do it. For those who can, though, you’re one of the few.
For context for non-ear-rumblers, one commenter explainer: ‘To me it sounds like when there’s a big thunderstorm and the thunder is just lowly rolling around in the sky forever with only tiny flashes of lightning that don’t leave the clouds.’
Another said: ‘Wait, not everyone has this? it happens when I contract my face and smush it real hard, my eyes close and my nose scrunches up and I hear this rumbling sound.’
Although there have been studies on this phenomenon, there are no official figures as to how many people can rumble at will.
One study from 2013 stated: ‘The tensor tympani muscle is the largest muscle within the middle ear. Its voluntary contraction is a very unusual event. Only a few papers have documented its audiometric effects.’
Some believe it has something to do with reducing sounds made during chewing, and others have claimed it helps them during bouts of tinnitus. There’s a whole conversation going on about it on Reddit, where the ear rumbling community have joined together to discuss symptoms.
Basically, it’s rarer than we might think, and one of those bodily functions some people have that makes almost no sense.
Much like in the blue/white dress fiasco from a few years back, it’s also one where no-one can understand what the other side of the debate is on about.