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12 Coolest Science Discoveries Of June 2022

The world is becoming increasingly noisy, and all of that noise poses a health risk, particularly to people in urban settings. According to the EPA, noise pollution can cause hearing loss, stress, high blood pressure, and sleep disruption, among a host of other ailments.

With that in mind, scientists are on the lookout for better sound-absorbing materials to help insulate us from an increasingly loud world. A new study published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society A looked not to engineering, but to nature — specifically moths — for inspiration.

The world of the moth isn’t necessarily a particularly noisy one, but there are certain sounds they rather not hear and when they do hear them, they want to absorb as much as possible. Bats, one of the moths’ primary predators, use echolocation to ping sound waves off of prey animals and narrow in on their location. Finding efficient ways to prevent that signal from getting back to a bat is quite literally a matter of life and death.

To test the sound-absorbing qualities of moth wings, scientists coated metal disks with pieces of moth wings and bounced sound off of them. They found that the wings absorbed up to 87% of sound waves by vibrating small scales on their surface.

Their sound-absorbing capabilities are roughly ten times better than anything humans have been able to engineer and could inspire the creation of sound-absorbing wallpaper.

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