Sunday, April 04, 2004

Kickin' out the jams

My girlfriend is out of town on a business trip, which means that I can listen to music at the satisfyingly high volume levels that God intended when He inspired man to invent the amplifier. If the soles of my feet can't detect the floor shaking, my mind clouds with doubt that I'm getting my money's worth out of my stereo system.

Anyway, this reminded me of a quote from the May '04 issue of Cycle World. Someone had written a letter asking about vibration in motorcycles, and the answer said (in part):
[ . . . ] There are some frequencies that everybody loves and others that everybody hates, but there's also a lot of frequencies whose impact is not so cut-and-dried. Depending upon many physical factors, including size, weight, bone structure and body density, some riders find certain frequencies bothersome or even debilitating while other riders do not.

When designing the C5 Corvette in the 1990s, General Motors conducted extensive research in this field. Those studies found that the previous generation of 'Vettes had natural resonant frequencies that went unnoticed by most men but tended to have an unpleasant effect on large numbers of women. Further research then attributed this phenomenon to the simple fact that most female bodies fall within a significantly different range of resonant frequencies than those of most men. As a result, the engineers spent huge amounts of development time and money "tuning" the C5 chassis to avoid the frequency ranges that annoy females while still allowing most males to receive the kind of sensory input they prefer.

This may answer two mysteries that I've long wondered about: why so many women dislike 80's Corvettes, and why men and women often disagree about loud music. (My girlfriend does occasionally listen to quite loud music, but it is a different type of music than what I usually play, so it may accentuate a different frequency range.)

When I think of Corvettes, I always think of the unintentionally-hilarious movie Corvette Summer, starring Mark Hamill.

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