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Parsa Studies How Bats Use High-Frequency Sounds to Adapt to Environments 

Vijay and other London researchers may soon learn how loud a bat has to screech in a sound-dampened room before it stops bouncing off walls.

The purpose of the bat experiment isn't to get the nocturnal creature to fly into the padded walls of a sound-absorbing room but rather to see if they emit louder and different sounds to adapt to their environment.  Bats emit high-frequency sounds that are two and a half times higher than the upper limits of human hearing.  Those sounds reflect off objects, enabling bats to avoid obstacles and hunt prey.  

The ultra-high frequencies have made it hard to measure how bats change the volume of their sound but Vijay is working on technology that could change that.  The technology will allow Vijay to display sounds and signals digitally, a tool that will have many applications, both for bat research and for sophisticated measuring equipment.

Vijay hopes to use the technology to create hand-held medical devices - for example, a small electrocardiogram machine to record the electrical activity of the heart - that until now have been housed in bulky equipment that's not easily moved.

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Last Updated: 27/08/04