Interested in Language
Can anybody help me to understand what the author means in the bold text?
I knew a man who had this peculiarity of aural hypersthesia: that every sound brought him
minute information of the matter causing the sound; that is to say, he had an ear bearing to the normal ear the relation which the spectroscope bears to the telescope. A rod, for instance, of mixed copper and iron impinging, in his hearing, upon a rod of mixed tin and lead, conveyed to him not merely the proportion of each metal in each rod, but some strange knowledge of the essential meaning and spirit, as it were, of copper, of iron, of tin, and of lead.
M.P.Shiel, Vaila, 1896
Not A Teacher
A spectroscope is a device that enables an observer to tell what the composition of a star that he observes. It does it by breaking the light coming from that star into a spectrum which will have specific lines in it corresponding frequencies of light produced by certain elements. A normal telescope magnifies the star but does not enable any analysis of the composition.
Hypersthesia is an increased sensitivity to certain sensory stimulation, in the case of the man in the text he had aural hypersthesia meaning he could hear things normal people could not.
This man could by listening to the sounds made by a rod of metal tell what the elements that made it up were, his ears acting as a spectroscope compared to an ordinary ear that could not.