A haunting audio/visual representation of a geomagnetic storm

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Geomagnetic storms are probably most famous for generating especially vibrant aurorae — some of the most breathtaking natural light displays on Earth. But these storms also give rise to all manner of electromagnetic interference across the radio spectrum — interference that gets picked up and measured by equipment here on Earth, like Canada's CARISMA radio array.

The video featured up top, titled "20 Hz," is an audio/visual representation of that magnetic disturbance. Created by filmmakers Ruth Jarman and Joe Gerhardt (who, as a team, go by Semiconductor), the pair took radio wave data collected by CARISMA and converted it — first into sound, and then into an accompanying animation — to create a piece of art that is simultaneously beautiful and bone-chilling.

The filmmakers describe what you're watching:

20 Hz observes a geo-magnetic storm occurring in the Earth's upper atmosphere. Working with data collected from the CARISMA radio array and interpreted as audio, we hear tweeting and rumbles caused by incoming solar wind, captured at the frequency of 20 Hertz. Generated directly by the sound, tangible and sculptural forms emerge suggestive of scientific visualisations. As different frequencies interact both visually and aurally, complex patterns emerge to create interference phenomena that probe the limits of our perception.


Absolutely stunning stuff.

[Spotted on Bad Astronomy]
20 Hz by Semiconductor