Why fingernails-on-a-chalkboard is the worst sound in the world
By Melissa Dahl
Screeeeeeeech. Even imagining the sound of a person’s fingernails scraping down a chalkboard is tortuous. Now, new research helps suggest why the noise is such a special kind of awful.
The frequency of the screechy, scratchy sound ranges between 2000 Hz and 4000 — and to your ear canal, this is the zone of terror, where the human ear is most sensitive. “Some frequencies are amplified due to the anatomy of the ear canal,” write musicologists Christoph Reuter, of the University of Vienna, and Michael Oehler, of the Macromedia University for Media and Communication in Cologne, Germany. In other words: Blame the shape of your ear.