It’s a phenomenon that has long fascinated the scientific community: When in a noisy, crowded room, a person will still prick up their ears if their name is mentioned. Equally, two guests can isolate what the other says from the surrounding cacophony. They are able to engage in a private conversation without speaking louder than those around them. This is known as the “cocktail party effect, ” but it was air traffic controllers, not socialites, who led to its study This story is from Kinfolk Issue Thirty-Eight Buy Now Related Stories Arts & Culture Issue 44 Hannah Traore The art world's next big thing is a gallerist. Arts & Culture Issue 44 The False Mirror Compositions inspired by the iconic clouds—and surrealist sensibilities—of René Magritte. Arts & Culture Issue 44 Boaz Nechemia Meet Jerusalem’s favorite weatherman. Arts & Culture Issue 44 Fredi Otto One scientist's mission to prove the link between extreme weather and climate change. Arts & Culture Issue 44 Ghostlore Four questions about supernatural studies. Arts & Culture Issue 44 Word: Anecdata Fact, meet fiction.