There have been many periods of isolated total silence here in Fairfield since I moved here a dozen years ago. These are of course always at night, but they remind me of my childhood in both Manhattan and the Hudson highlands — in Manhattan I was fascinated by the endless inarticulate roar of the city, faint at times, but never absent. And I was equally captivated by the night-sounds of the country above the Hudson, where on an occasional summer night there would be a lull of real silence. Or in a snow blanketed winter, when all the nights, and most days, were truly silent and one could only listen to the blood flowing.
It’s those microvilli (“stereocilia”) (c. 1 um cylinders) atop the primary cilia within the cochlea, which amplify the tiniest sounds, approaching the soft rattle of Brownian motion itself.