Astounding Transducers

By: Jim Virkler; ©2014

This unusual title refers to the sense of hearing. We wish to discuss how human hearing occurs in order to magnify our sense of wonder at the gifts God provides for living creatures, including man, the summit of his created beings. In humans the sense of hearing and responses we offer to the sounds we experience enable us to recognize our spiritual qualities. As beings created in God’s image we enjoy the music of talented composers and sounds of verbal language as expressions of our spirit. Along with the gift of sight, the human ear has been described as an “astounding transducer.”

And what is a transducer you ask? A transducer is any device which converts one form of energy to a different form. Sound production provides an example. The energy of sound vibrations in air striking the ear are ultimately converted into electrical nerve impulses sent to the brain through neural pathways of the auditory nerve. Many examples of energy conversions from one form to another occur each day of our lives. Each time our bodies move we convert chemical energy—our digested food—to body heat and motion. A rock tumbling from the face of a cliff converts its positional energy to motion energy. Electricity consumed by our light bulbs converts to light.

One article on the human ear termed that organ “an outstanding transducer.” This term often defines an industrial process in which energy transformations provide some advantage or benefit. The term has broader applications in other contexts. Energy transformation phenomena are ubiquitous, whether they occur in the every day activity of our personal lives or an industrial application. We revel in the natural process whereby physical sound waves—alternate compressions and rarefactions of air traveling at 1100 feet per second—are transformed to other forms of energy, finally producing millions of electrical nerve impulses rushing to the brain through the auditory nerve.

As I began this post, I recalled a unique field trip with my science classes to the northwest New Jersey community of Blairstown. The Yard’s Creek Pumped Storage Electric Generating Station provided a unique example of energy transformation: During “off-use” hours, excess electricity is used to pump water from a lower reservoir to an upper reservoir, an elevation gain of 700 feet. During hours of peak demand, billions of gallons of water from the upper reservoir are released to rush down the penstocks by gravity and generate electricity via the motion of turbines.
Is the analogy of the Yard’s Creek Pumped Storage generating station valid in discussing the ear, the human organ of hearing? The parallel exists in the human ear: Physical motion converts to electric impulses.

Teachers of physical science enjoy challenging students to identify the frequent transformations of energy from one form to another. Teachers of life science may integrate their instruction concerning sensory organs and other life processes with the principles of physical science. The scope of the teaching/learning process could be broadened and interest level in their subject could be strengthened. Pastors and youth leaders could pique natural interest and fascination with how our world operates as a method of raising awareness of the design features and orderliness of our God-created universe.

Currently we are addressing the sensory systems of living things. Such systems display the glory of the Creator. Our study serves as a powerful apologetic for the existence of God and his created works. Not all scientists view the phenomena of the natural world as suggestive of the existence of God, much less proof of his existence. These topics suggest a study of “natural theology,” a broad investigation of the relationship between divine reality and human experience. We have published several posts on the general topic. For further study, we suggest one related link:

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