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That’s why untangling wired headphones is hard in space too

If you’ve still needed to ditch wired headphones for a Bluetooth-enabled pair, you’re probably all too familiar with the frustrating process of untangling multiple nodes that mysteriously form when you put them away.

The more you try to decipher the wire, the more complicated it seems. If you’re doing it on a train, you might get to your destination before you even have a chance to hear music or a podcast.

But you can take comfort in knowing that even astronauts have to deal with such trivialities from time to time, Matthias Maurer, a resident of the International Space Station (ISS), said Digitartlends.

“Is it easy to untangle headphones in space or on Earth?” Maurer said. Before taking a full 20 seconds to get the job done. Yet he does.

And Maurer’s challenge to decoherence was not the basis for some specialized space experiments to find out whether microgravity conditions aid in the decoding process (although they apparently do).

Instead, the astronaut is participating in the ongoing Acoustic Diagnostic Experiment, which aims to study the effect of microgravity on our hearing during extended stays aboard the International Space Station. The study could provide vital information for planning future manned missions to the Moon and Mars.

The headset you see in the Maurer video has sensors that measure the movement of hairs inside the ear as they respond to sound. Specifically, the headphones monitor what are known as acousto-optical emissions (OAEs).

“OAE occurs when the hairs in the inner ear move in response to hearing stimulation,” ESA explains. “The astronauts put on headphones with a special tip to the inner ear that simultaneously plays sound and measures the reactions of their ears.”

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