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Did Donald Duck Inhale Helium?

I'm sure most of us have sucked back a quick inhale from a helium balloon and had a good laugh. Sounding like Donald Duck or the Chipmunks is enough to make anyone crack up. What is it about helium that makes us sound so funny?

No one will disagree that helium changes your voice, but not everyone believes it is helium that causes your voice to become high-pitched. What it does is change the timbre of your voice. This has nothing to do with falling trees. Timbre is what allows you to tell the difference between the same note played at the same volume on two different instruments. It also helps you hear the different parts of speech, like vowel sounds.

You need to know how sound works to understand what happens. When you talk, air travels from your lungs up through the larynx and out of your mouth. The larynx has a pair of vocal folds which form a V-shaped slit. When the air is leaving, it hits the underside of the vocal folds and makes them vibrate. Are you still with me? This vibrating excites air molecules in your vocal tract. By moving your tongue, lips, roof of your mouth, etc. you can create recognizable sounds. So that's how sound works. Let's get back to helium.

Helium is much lighter than air. Because of this, the speed of sound is much higher in helium. When you inhale helium you increase the speed of the sound of your voice. The shape of your vocal tract doesn't change. If you increase the speed of a sound you also increase the wavelength. However, on the way to the ear the sound travels thru air again and the wavelength goes back to normal. It's not the change in frequency that gives you the squeaky voice but a change in pitch. The sound has the same frequencies but helium causes a shift in your timbre. This means the higher frequencies are getting a higher enhancement than normal so the pitch changes. The end result? You sound like a chipmunk.

Although inhaling helium is fun it's not exactly healthy. Every time you inhale pure helium, you are not inhaling oxygen. Whatever you do, never inhale helium from a high pressure tank! Besides the serious risk of lung damage, you could end up with bubbles of helium in the arteries that lead to your brain. This can lead to stroke-like symptoms and, of course, death. Still laughing? Didn't think so.

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Who Has the Squeakiest Voice?

  • Michael Jackson.
  • Richard Simmons.
  • Renee Zelweiger (Gerry McGuire, Me, Myself & Irene).
  • Leslie Mann (Big Daddy, Cable Guy).

General In The Forums

Skipper_
Skipper_ posted in New Users:
henlo! welcome to KW!  the people on here is nice so i hope you like it! nice to meet you.
reply about 1 hour
Skipper_
Skipper_ posted in New Users:
Hello and welcome to KW! I hope you like the people here, because they're friendly tbh but anyways, nice to meet you~
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Skipper_
Skipper_ posted in Debating:
There's a lot of evidence, my friend. First evidence is that Trump is not allowing trans to join the army. The Muslim ban? He's such a racist and such a discriminator...do you want me to give you more evidence?
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Tennis123
Tennis123 posted in Debating:
And btw, it’s acceptable for a person to defend himself from the polar bear or whatever animal
reply about 2 hours
Tennis123
Tennis123 posted in Debating:
"Kirsteeeeen" wrote: "Tennis123" wrote: i have changed my views on things like this, i think 99% of people that hunt and the people that complain about the hunting are complete hypocrites though.  if you think that its justified to kill an animal in a given context, you must have a difference between a human and the animal that if true of the human would justify killing the animal, otherwise you say X justifies killing something but doesnt justify killing something ate the same time, which of course is a contradiction. hopefully people can understand that.  What gives, polar bears for example, the right to kill humans for food but doesn't give humans the right to kill an animal for food? Polar bears have no moral agency and they must kill for food. If we went over to a place in the North Pole and a mentally disabled person with the inability to understand right and wrong and they had to kill for food, I wouldnt add any moral weight to the act they commit bc how can you morally judge an act one commits without them having any conception of morals? Some mentally disabled people have no moral agency and can’t really understand anything. Would you judge them morally? 
reply about 2 hours