Archive for January, 2012

The connection between Vision and Hearing


"I'm sorry, what?"

This week I am over at Scientific American on their guest blog talking about a new study that came out in 2011 demonstrating for the first time a phenomenon known as “inattentional deafness.” It seems when we are very focused on something visually, we tend to “block out” sounds surrounding us that are not relevant to the visual task at hand.

In other words, ever wonder why your kids don’t answer you while you repeatedly call them for dinner? If they are playing their favorite video game then they may have been so busy processing the detailed information of the game that their ears were put on mute to lessen their sensory perceptual load.

See they’re good kids after all, it’s not that they are not listening, it’s just that they sincerely didn’t hear you.

Researchers think that the relationship of perceptual load between vision and hearing is very important and it may affect other aspects of our everyday lives such as driving a motor vehicle. They think if you are distracted by taking in all the information and images on a visually loaded billboard on the side of the highway, you might unintentionally ignore the sound of a car horn or an emergency vehicle.

I will be sure to keep an eye on the research for more studies on inattentional deafness. It’s a great example of ‘science hidden in plain sight!’


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WOW! What a DAY!

Forget popping champagne, I kind of want gatorade poured on me!

I am totally sincere when I say that I am almost speechless. Well. I said almost! Hee hee. If you have not heard yet as the announcement won’t come for a couple of days from the magazine itself, I won 20/20 magazine’s writing contest and will be their “guest editor-in-chief!” I am so grateful and thankful and full of thanks and gratefulness…okay, maybe I am out of words, but in a good way! Wow, just wow!

It is not every day that you hear the editor-in-chief of a magazine on your voicemail. In my world, this is a first! I could not be more excited!!! Who is 20/20 magazine you say? Only the leading magazine for the optical industry, naming the hottest designers, fashions, trends and technologies in a very fun and funky way! It doesn’t get any more glam than this in the eye world!

The best part about winning was that the contest was based on writing. They said that 90 people submitted entries. Wow! I am just so happy that my little essay won. I have had this blog since 2008 but began branching out for more opportunities in science writing since May 2011. The thrill of being a guest on Scientific American‘s blog has been an immeasurable honor. And this just really gives me the confidence I need to keep going, “keep writing, someone is reading, someone is listening, what you write matters, what you share is enjoyed, you’re helping people, they get it, keep going, keep going.”

If I tried to thank everyone who has inspired me, who has lifted me up when I had lost confidence, who has told me to keep going, I wouldn’t do them justice. They don’t realize how much it really meant and the two little words of ‘thank you’ just don’t cut it. But I appreciate you all. I appreciate every time you encourage me and cheer for me and read what I have to say. I also appreciate the “likes,” and feedback. It lifts me up. Thank you. Thank you! Wow. Again, I’m out of words.

Anyway, I will be staying in Manhattan in March for a few days! I will get a tour of the offices at 20/20 and get peeks behind the scenes at how things are run (which is really the best part)! I will also be writing a column for them and featured in a column and I will also be with them at the Jacob Javits center in March for Vision Expo! I even get to attend a photo shoot for 20/20 (can it be a retro one, please? I just love one of the last ones they did with the vintage swimwear and cat eye glasses)!

You know I will be blogging, tweeting, tweetpic-ing and facebooking up a storm in March so get ready! And thank you, you guys, thank you for following me and pushing me to a little closer to my dream of writing with each kind gesture you so generously give. Thank you!

Get ready! And Cheers! To March and to all of you!

PS- Is it weird that one of the first things I thought of when I won was I have to write a blog post about this?? Probably. A little. Oh well! Wwooooo hoooo!

Cheryl G. Murphy, OD

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Ringing in the New Year with Writing…

Happy New Year!

In case you missed it, I was recently over at Scientific American talking about what makes a winter wonderland white, in other words, the beauty and science of snow crystals. Did you realize that each snowflake starts as a dust particle in a cloud? It’s ‘no wonder’ snow is so cool, read more here

Also at Sci Am, I laid out the specs on the New Year’s Eve Ball dropping in New York’s Times Square this year. How they get something that is as big as an SUV and weighs as much as 4 tons gently down a flagpole is amazing let alone its dazzling brightness and pretty color combinations which range in the billions! You can check out the NYE ball year round in Times Square, they have made it weather resistant and able to tolerate high winds and wicked weather and it will stay in place perched high in the sky for all passer-bys who want to catch a glimpse. If you want to learn more about it, read here!

I will make more of an effort to post links to my articles on Sci Am’s guest blog here on my home blog so  you all don’t think I’ve been slacking off, quite the contrary, I have been working hard, don’t you worry! There’s always more I want to learn and tons of science hidden in plain sight for us to enjoy!


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