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Hearing a Heartbeat



Oddness is suggested by this icon of a vibrating heart.

Any corporeal perception associated with a sense of pressure, hearing or touch is called a somatic sensation. Somatic sensations are described using words like hard, soft, loud, quiet, slap, tickle, push, pull, scream, whisper, port, starboard, bass, treble and so on. The reference experience for describing somatic sensation is hearing a heartbeat. So to make a binary description of a somatic sensation, compare it to hearing a human heartbeat. Report the result using one of the following algebraic statements.

If the two experiences are not comparable, then express this by writing \delta^{*} \! =0 . If the sensation is like hearing a heartbeat, then say that it is on the left. Express this as \delta^{*} \! = +1 . If not, then say that the sensation is on the right and that \delta^{*} \! =-1 . The number \delta^{*} is called the oddness. These relations are mathematically expressed by

\delta^{*} \equiv \begin{cases} +1 &{\text{if a somatic sensation is on the left }} \\ \; \; 0 &{\text{if a  sensation is not somatic}} \\ -1 &{\text{if a somatic sensation is on the right }} \end{cases}


We may also consider whether or not a sensation even has any distinct left or right-side character. Here is a binary descriptor called the audibility defined by \varepsilon \equiv  2 \left| \, \delta^{*} \right| - 1 . Recall that \delta^{*} is the oddness of a particle. So the audibility takes-on values of

\varepsilon = \begin{cases} +1  &\mathsf{\text{if a sensation is somatic}} \\ -1  &\mathsf{\text{if a sensation is not somatic}}   \end{cases}

Reference Constant

The numerical constant associated with the somatic sensation of hearing a heartbeat is called the time units conversion factor. It is symbolized by  \raisebox{-0.04cm}{\it{N}} ^{\hspace{-.15cm}^{\mdsmblkcircle}} \rule{0px}{6px}^{\hspace{1px} \mathbf{\Theta}} \, . This number comes to us from the Sumerian and Babylonian peoples of ancient Mesopotamia.1George Sarton, A History of Science, page74. Harvard University Press, Cambridge 1952. By ancient convention \raisebox{-0.04cm}{\it{N}} ^{\hspace{-.15cm}^{\mdsmblkcircle}} \rule{0px}{6px}^{\hspace{1px} \mathbf{\Theta}} = 86,400 (seconds per day).  \raisebox{-0.04cm}{\it{N}} ^{\hspace{-.15cm}^{\mdsmblkcircle}} \rule{0px}{6px}^{\hspace{1px} \mathbf{\Theta}} also gives an order-of-magnitude account of the number of heartbeats-per-day for most people. For more detail about how this number is used, please see the discussion of frequency.

Conjugate symmetry, or perhaps a lack of it, are whimsically suggested in baby carrier bead panel from Borneo.
Baby Carrier Panel, Kenyah people. Borneo 20th century, 34 x 25 cm. Photograph by D Dunlop.
1George Sarton, A History of Science, page74. Harvard University Press, Cambridge 1952.