Friday, October 03, 2008

Oh, Give Me a Home Where the Elephants Phone

"I'm sorry, the elephant isn't available. Would you care to hold the lion?"

Oh, that joke was a lot funnier back when telephones had operators... and lines. Now that about a quarter of us don't even have a landline, we'll have to come up with cellular-centric humor if we want anyone to get it.

"Hey, do you know how to make an elephant phone?"


"Well, you start out with a three foot long plastic case." (ROSL)

That's "rolling on the Savanna laughing", just in case you wondered.

Anyway, what's inspired all of this is a recent news story called "Elephants 'Phone' Friends With Rumbles" offered by the Discovery Channel. It's about a study of how elephants find their way back to their herd when they have wandered too far away to rely on sight or smell.

Turns out that elephants have their own wireless communications based on infrasonics. This is the range of audio frequencies below human hearing but still useful to animals. In this case, 13 to 35 Hz. Elephants are so large that they can resonate to emit powerful vocalizations in that extremely low frequency range. Those rumbles can travel over a mile and a half to reach distant herd members.

Even more interesting, elephants seem to have developed a form of audible Caller ID. Scientists discovered that an elephant was more inclined to respond to a rumble if they had a close affiliation with the caller. Otherwise they might choose not to answer.

Elephants also increase the power of their infrasonic vocalizations when they have to communicate over longer distances. That's not unlike the way cell phones automatically adjust their transmitter power depending on how close to the cellular tower they happen to be.

As humans we think we are so smart inventing all this sophisticated new technology, when nature has already developed analogous systems that do essentially the same thing. Perhaps infrasonic communication isn't totally lost on people. Ever notice how you can "feel" the rumble of the pizza delivery car pulling into your driveway, even in the dead of winter with the doors and windows shut? There may be a little pachyderm packed into all of us.

If you sense that kinship, you might be interested in knowing that October is Elephant Awareness Month, with special doings related to the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee. You'll enjoy the many elephants there, and at the Performing Animal Wildlife Sanctuary (P.A.W.S) in California.

Of course, if you expect to communicate with your human friends over long distances you'll want the best technology can offer in the way of wireless communications. That's what you find at Cell Phone Plans Finder. Check today's specials. Many great phones are available free, some even with cash rebates.

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