If a deaf person stands next to the loudest noise in the world do their ears get damaged or would they be unaffected?
Let’s analyze what sound actually is. It’s what an organism with auditory equipment (like ears, nerves, auditory cortex) perceives as it responds to the oscillations and vibrations which emanate from a source, and are transmitted through a conducting medium like air or water. Thus, “sound” is a perception of mechanical energy. A truly deaf person cannot perceive sound. However, that doesn’t mean they don’t respond to the mechanical energy which causes the sound. I’ll explain that in a minute.
As was mentioned already, the loudest sound we know of was the volcano Krakatoa explosion in 1883. Before a volcano explodes, there is a huge build up of pressure inside it. This pressure has what we call potential energy. When that pressure is released, potential energy is converted into kinetic energy. The same phenomenon, basically, as that of a bomb. Pressure is also a kind of force, and in physics “force” is defined as “a push or a pull that makes an object change its state of motion or direction.” So “sound” is really an auditory perception to potential energy which becomes kinetic energy via pressure, and contains a force. In the case of Krakatoa, the kinetic energy and force of the blast causes pressure waves to emanate outwards in an omnidirectional pattern, and those waves cause molecules of air to vibrate. It’s a chain reaction, if you will, from the source of the blast, through the air to a person or object downrange.
It’s not hard to see how energy and force can cause great destruction. If a force is a thing which “pushes or pulls” on another object, you can see why a large enough force and energy magnitude is fatal… again going back to the example of a bomb. Pressure waves large enough generate forces which can tear apart a person’s organs, slam them into a wall, or drive projectiles through them.
And so a deaf person is not immune. True, they will not “hear” (perceive) a sound from the source. But they will still be torn apart by the force, pressure, and energy of it.
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