Our ears are sensitive to incredibly tiny movements. The ear drum vibrates in response to sound over a fraction of the diameter of a hydrogen atom. These vibrations are carried down to the inner ear via the middle ear bones. When the fluid is unable to move the damaged hairs of the inner ear, a cochlear implant may be used to bypass these structures to directly electrically stimulate the hearing nerve to recreate sound. Colleague Dr. Mario Svirsky explains in Physics Today.