I missed the Sound and Vision article when it came out, but read it with interest today. I do have some nits to pick with it though. For starters, exposure to loud sounds is understood to be less harmful to young people than to us older folks. The human ear has some automatic protection built in and although its effectiveness degrades as we age, it does enable younger people to be exposed to louder sounds without permanent damage. Of course, there are limits to this ability, so this should not be taken by anyone as a license to go and blow their eardrums or cilia out(!).
My second nit is the author (David Ranada) slams higher sample rate audio formats. His comments are certainly valid from the standpoint of continuous tones, but I believe that there are a good number of audiophiles and audio engineers who would argue that higher sample rates provide better reproduction of transient sounds. This technical argument is based around the limitations of Fourier Transforms, which, very simply put, try to model all sounds as continuous sine waves. There are also technical arguments for higher sampling rates based around the design of the anti-alias filters, which are easier and cleaner to implement at the higher rates. Finally, I've heard that there has been some scientific research related to endorphin release in the brain - simply put, at low sample rates, we don't emotionally respond to digitally sampled music nearly as well as we do at high ones.
Now, I know that the whole topic of sampling rates is almost guaranteed to get most audiophiles riled, so let me close by saying that my opinion is not fixed on this point. I was merely pointing out the arguments for the other side from a technical point of view. There are, of course, application, environmental, cost, convenience, and other factors that are involved in deciding what audio format to use and I have addressed none of those in this post. That being said, I'll be happy to discuss them in the comments if anyone would care to. I also have the best of intentions to write something on the use of high sampling rates in forensic audio and video processing in the near future.
P.S. For the record, Brian could hear the highest frequencies on his machine, but I could not, at least on my MacBook's speaker.