home Mind-Boggling Stories How Atomic Physics Makes Your Headphones Hiss

How Atomic Physics Makes Your Headphones Hiss

You know that hissing noise you get in your headphones when there’s no music playing? WTF is that?

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What’s Electron Flow?

“Electron flow is what we think of as electrical current. We are familiar with two types of electron flow, Direct Current, or DC, and Alternating Current, or AC. Direct Current is the kind of electrical flow we get from batteries and solar cells, when electrons travel in only one direction. On the other hand, AC is the kind of electrical flow we get from a typical electrical outlet in a home. ”

How do speakers work?

“Speakers come in all shapes and sizes, enabling you to listen to music on your iPod, enjoy a film at the cinema or hear a friend’s voice over the phone. In order to translate an electrical signal into an audible sound, speakers contain an electromagnet: a metal coil which creates a magnetic field when an electric current flows through it.”

Signal-to-noise ratio

“The ratio of the power or volume (amplitude) of a signal to the amount of disturbance (the noise) mixed in with it. Measured in decibels, signal-to-noise ratio (SNR, S/N) measures the clarity of the signal in a circuit or a wired or wireless transmission channel.”
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