February 17, 2004

shhhhh . . . I'm trying to listen to the universe

Last night the Royal society hosted a lecture entitled "Heavenly music: the sounds of the universe". The blurb started off with the familiar refrain, "[We all know that] in space nobody can hear you scream".

Back on earth, in the lecture theatre, it was pretty hard to hear anything at all given the wimpy PA.

The sounds on offer ranged from the terrestial - lightning, the aurora - through pulsations of the sun and lightning whistlers on Jupiter to the interstellar - pulsars, blackholes - and finally what was claimed to be the sound of the big bang.

The big bang sound was created from CMB data which, given my efforts documented below, was of great interest. Compared to the buzz saw tones of my first sounds (12/2/2004) this was easy listening. Einsturzende Neubauten versus Dido.

So which sound is correct ? Well obviously neither . . . it all depends how you use the data. At this point I'm trying to understand the method J Cramer used and I'm still trying to figure out how to input the data into an IFFT.

Listening to the sounds last night one thing was sadly missing and that was a loud, powerful, full frequency range sound system. To listen to the sounds of the universe, created by enormous mind boggling energies - often at extreme low frequencies - one wanted to feel the physicality of the sound, to listen to them not on a polite pair of dinky speakers but on a huge system at maximum volume, sub bass ripples of the universe churning ones belly.

Posted by Jem Finer at February 17, 2004 4:02 PM