At the Nuremberg Castle in Bavaria, Germany, there is a 50 meter (165 foot) well. The delay between when water is poured into it and its splash at the bottom delivers a surprising thrill of anticipation. (via r/videos)
Last year, US and Canadian diplomats and their families in Cuba suffered from weird illnesses that led many to speculate about a "sonic weapon" of some kind. After analyzing a reported audio clip of the mysterious sound released by the AP (below), University of Michigan computer scientist Kevin Fu and his Zhejiang University colleagues Wenyuan Xu and Chen Yan suggest that the source may have been accidental interference between ultrasonic signals. From IEEE Spectrum:
Read the rest
There are existing sources of ultrasound in office environments, such as room-occupancy sensors. “Maybe there was also an ultrasonic jammer in the room and an ultrasonic transmitter,” (Fu) suggests. “Each device might have been placed there by a different party, completely unaware of the other.”
One thing the investigation didn’t explore was whether the AP audio could have produced the wide range of symptoms, including brain damage, that afflicted embassy workers. “We know that audible signals can cause pain, but we didn’t look at the physiological effects beyond that,” Fu says. At press time, the FBI had yet to announce the results of its investigation. A panel of Cuban scientists and medical doctors, meanwhile, concluded that a “collective psychogenic disorder” brought on by stress may have been at work.
Fadel Adib, a professor at MIT who specializes in wireless technology for sensing and communications, calls the study by Fu and his colleagues “a creative take on what might have happened.” Adib, who wasn’t involved in the research but reviewed the results, adds that wireless signals can and do interact with one another.
Make No Law is a just-launched podcast hosted by Ken "Popehat" White (previously), a former Federal prosecutor who writes some of the best, most incisive legal commentary on the web; the first episode deals with the oft-cited, badly misunderstood "fighting words" doctrine and its weird history in the religious prosecution of Jehovah's Witnesses (my sole complaint is that he didn't work in E. Gary Gygax). Read the rest
For nearly every year since my daughter Poesy was old enough to sing, we've recorded a Christmas podcast; but we missed it in 2016, due to the same factors that made the podcast itself dormant for a couple years -- my crazy busy schedule. Read the rest
SpeechBoard is a new "coming soon" Web tool to edit your podcast audio by cutting up the text transcripts. Craig Cannon and Ramon Recuero posted a demo and briefly explain the project in this Medium post:
SpeechBoard... will transcribe your podcasts and allow you to cut anything from the audio by deleting the text from the transcript.... You can import your cuts into Adobe Audition or Audacity to fine-tune the edit.
In the vacuum of space, there's no way for sound to travel. But that doesn't mean space is silent. Spacecraft capture radio emissions that can be converted into sound we can hear. Indeed, NASA recently posted a fantastic collection of space audio on Soundcloud and it's wonderfully haunting:
Here are descriptions of some of the recordings:
Read the rest
• Juno Captures the 'Roar' of Jupiter: NASA's Juno spacecraft has crossed the boundary of Jupiter's immense magnetic field. Juno's Waves instrument recorded the encounter with the bow shock over the course of about two hours on June 24, 2016.
• Plasma Waves: Plasma waves, like the roaring ocean surf, create a rhythmic cacophony that — with the EMFISIS instrument aboard NASA’s Van Allen Probes — we can hear across space.
• Saturn's Radio Emissions: Saturn is a source of intense radio emissions, which were monitored by the Cassini spacecraft. The radio waves are closely related to the auroras near the poles of the planet. These auroras are similar to Earth's northern and southern lights. More of Saturn's eerie-sounding radio emissions.
• Sounds of Jupiter: Scientists sometimes translate radio signals into sound to better understand the signals. This approach is called "data sonification". On June 27, 1996, the Galileo spacecraft made the first flyby of Jupiter's largest moon, Ganymede, and this audio track represents data from Galileo's Plasma Wave Experiment instrument.
• Sounds of a Comet Encounter: During its Feb. 14, 2011, flyby of comet Tempel 1, an instrument on the protective shield on NASA's Stardust spacecraft was pelted by dust particles and small rocks, as can be heard in this audio track.
Multimedia artist Andy Thomas translated the soundscapes of the Amazon rainforest into a mesmerizing 3D animation titled the Visual Sounds of the Amazon. He and Reynier Omena Junior made their field recordings in 2016 around Presidente Figueiredo in the Brazilian state of Amazonas. The result, he says, is "a symbolic representation of nature’s collision with technology.”
"What I've realized is that people have compassion fatigue these days," Thomas says. "They hear about the destruction of rainforests and decimation of species across the world, and they become numb to it."
Read the rest
Thomas uses the animation software Houdini to bring sounds into sight. Unlike Adobe Photoshop, which is a layer-based program (effects are applied to a background like a stack of pages), Houdini is a node-based software. This means that the final image is a product of the interaction of a network or web of effects.
Using this program, Thomas creates an abstract form for each creature and layers it with a series of effects—selected as he thinks about the birds' coloring, nests, habitat and even diet. Many of the animations focus on the male birds' coloring, since they are often the ones to sport the most outlandish tones and patterns. Then he feeds in the animal recording, which activates particular parts of this complicated framework, converting the sequence of sounds into a pulsing, writhing burst of color. Though the bird calls are clearly the featured sound, every tick and trill in the background of the recording influences the final shape...
Thersa Matsuura was born and raised in the USA but spent the past 25 years -- more than half her life -- living in a small Japanese fishing village with her husband and son. Read the rest
Conversations with People Who Hate Me is a new podcast from the Welcome to Night Vale folks in which Dylan Marron, who voices Carlos the Scientist on Night Vale, tracks down the people who troll him online and has long, thoughtful, substantive (and funny!) discussions about where they're coming from. Read the rest
Scott Edelman writes, "I interviewed George R. R. Martin at a Thai restaurant on Episode 42 of my Eating the Fantastic podcast (MP3), and after I returned home, remembered I'd also interviewed him back in 1993. After digging out the tape, I couldn't resist incorporating his amusing admission about 'a fantasy novel I've been working on off and on for a while' as part of the episode." Read the rest
Paul from Yog Soggoth Dot Com writes, "To celebrate 19 years of the YSDC web site we've released a Limited Edition Wax Cylinder recording of one of our podcast shows on 19 cylinders. Yes, there really is a podcast on it. Fewer than 19 cylinders are available from the set as some people already have them." Read the rest
"Role-players, boardgamers, writers, coders, artists, graphic designers, teachers, house-cleaners, lucid dreamers, gym-rats, distance runners, commuters" can enjoy over 100 ambient atmospheric loops with names like "Orbital Promenade," "Lunar Outpost," "Testing Chamber" and so on. Read the rest
David sends us "My in-depth (and lengthy) conversation (MP3) with Jeff Vandermeer about Borne, about storytelling in the age of climate change, about biotech and personhood, and about why weird fiction is so well-equipped to address the crises we find ourselves in as a species, just went live " Read the rest