# Would humans hear gravity waves from a binary BH fusion nearby?

The frequency of the gravity waves detected by aLIGO recently were in the audible sound spectra. Actually spanning over half of the keys of a piano, I've been told, during 2/10 or so seconds.

Would a human ear sense a gravity wave if powerful enough? The waves going through empty space from the event horizons, through the walls of a spacecraft and through the ears of astronauts. Would one actually hear a "zip" sound because space makes waves inside our ears?

• This reminds me of the Sticky Bead argument (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sticky_bead_argument), its an interesting thought, my initial reaction was that gravitational waves are too weak to be noticed by humans, but in the case that they were, it is plausible to suggest that the stretching of spacetime in our ears could cause the small bones to move in such a way that they "vibrate" at an audible frequency, even tough they are actually being stretched by space itself. – Dean Feb 28 '16 at 20:23

As your ear is extremely small compared to the wave length of the gravity waves, remember they travel at the speed of light not the speed of sound. The structures in the ear would not respond, also the ear would change in size (by a ridiculously small amount) itself, thus nullifying the effect anyway. LIGO works by comparing the light travel time of two laser beams at precise right angles, your ear is not directional like that.

• While your answer does seem to be correct, the question also included if you were nearby, e.g. same star system, so the waves would be orders of magnitude more powerful – Tanenthor Apr 28 '16 at 11:15
• I think the key is the difference between frequency and wave length. The frequency may be in the human audio range but the wave length will be much longer due the the speed of propagation (speed of light as opposed to the speed of sound nearly 6 orders of magnitude difference). – James Screech Apr 28 '16 at 14:02
• From research, it is frequency that determines perceived pitch, not wavelength. So travelling at the speed of light doesn't affect the audibility. – Tanenthor Apr 28 '16 at 17:29

Gravity would warp your entire body, or at least tug on it, because bodies that aren't bound together by gravity largely resist it's deformation, at least that's the major point I'm working on here.

That being said, it should pull on some structure in your ear, be it the bones or the tiny Philae (I believe that's the right word, edit if not), either way it results in a deviation from their original position.

Depending on proximity you might also be able to feel it, in likeness to standing in front of a large speaker. However the ears would be far more sensitive.