Jet engines are extraordinarily loud at roughly 140 decibels–and airports have struggled with mitigating their roar since the early days of commercial flight. An engineer at Boeing wants to make the cacophony more useful, if not silence it for good. »
If you really want to get away from it all, head to Washington State. There, on a trail along the Hoh River, in the rain forest of Olympic National Park, only 40 miles from Seattle, it’s what one scientist has deemed the quietest place in the contiguous United States.
Different places shape sound in unusual ways: a cathedral creates rich reverb, in wide open space your voice gets lost, and in an anechoic chamber very strange things happen indeed. This music video was shot in 15 different locations and it reveals how their acoustic characteristics vary so wildly. »
Wolf spiders are deaf—they don’t have the right structures for hearing. However, they are very good at sensing other kinds of vibrations, and they use this ability to communicate. One species of wolf spider plays songs on dead leaves to attract mates.
With a name like "microphone," you'd expect something small—but perhaps not quite as small as this. Scientist have figured out how to use just one molecule to detect the vibrations from sound. »
Water isn't supposed to float on top of water because well, water is water. So how are these droplets of water suspended on the surface of the water? Sound. The water is actually on top of a speaker and the acoustic vibrations allows the water drops to stay as drops on top of water. »
From the Golden Gate Bridge to an ancient Japanese bell, the physical structures around us are humming with secret sound. Artist Bill Fontana has made a career of capturing these haunting and complex soundscapes. As an artist at residence at CERN, he's mostly recently been listening in on the world's largest particle… »
You don't even need a flashlight to look for cave paintings in the dark: you just need the sound of your own voice. By listening to echoes as they walk through Spanish caves, acoustic archaeologists are unlocking the secrets of underground soundscapes. »
I was blown away when I first heard about a project that tried to tap into the electromagnetic communication potential of mushrooms. Using wires, radio waves, and circuits—not psychedelics—the project's off-kilter quest to find (and listen to) "electromagnetic fungi" was nonetheless more art than science. But who says… »
You know how some big rooms have special spots where you can stand and hear someone whisper from a hundred feet away. What if speakers could do that, selectively slinging sounds to specific listeners for specific purposes? You'd never have to wear headphones again! »
Being shot into space puts spacecraft under extreme stress—but did you know that the sound of the rocket launch can damage a craft? Inside the Large European Acoustic Facility, engineers recreate the incredible noise of a launch to make sure satellites can survive it. According to the ESA, "no human could survive" the… »
What if we could identify plants not by sight but by sound? It's not entirely fanciful: every plant makes a unique set of sounds—an auditory signature, if you will—influenced by its physiology. But these sounds, usually in the ultrasonic range, are not for our ears. »
In September 1990, a group of scientists put a drill head to the ground in southern Germany, where two landmasses once merged to form the supercontinent Pangaea 300 million years ago. Their goal? To drill the deepest hole ever made into the earth, a "telescope" into its core. »
In 1960, scientists did one of those experiments that just aren't allowed anymore. For the sake of science, they blew up three 3oo-lb anti-submarine bombs off the coast of Australia. A listening station 10,000 miles away in Bermuda—on the exact other side of the planet—waited. And waited. And, about three and a half… »
In an interesting but somewhat obviously biased New Statesman article, the marketing team at audio-engineering firm Biamp have collected a few interesting examples of how architectural acoustics and urban-scale soundscape design affect mood. They mention, for example, the stressful effects of sustained noise on blood… »
You unlock this post with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension—a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. You're moving into a collection of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. »