The sounds of the unicorn of the sea

Alan Burdick, The New Yorker, writes about how researchers were able to tag six narwhals and capture the sounds they made over the course of the week, creating “an intimate sonic document of the life of the narwhal.” The researchers identified three types of sounds the narwhals make. The “first two, clicking and buzzing, are used to navigate and to hone in on prey,” and the third sound, calling, the researchers believe is used to communicate to one another. 

You can listen to them here.


What is the relationship between photography and sound?


Cities and Memories, “a global collaborative sound project,” has launched Sound Photography, which they describe as “the biggest ever worldwide artistic interaction between photographers and sound artists.” The project has sound pieces that accompany photos from 34 countries.

Click this link to see a gallery of images, or this one to access the sound photography map.

And be prepared to lose yourself for a few hours as you navigate the sights and sounds of the world.

On adding sound to electric cars: a modest proposal

Rod Liddle, The Spectator, puts a poison pen to paper in a plea to the powers that be, pleading that electric cars be kept quiet even if they hit a few pedestrians.

While we understand Liddle’s dislike of unnecessary noise, his proposal is a bit harsh, though to his credit he doesn’t carve out an exception for himself as he writes:

[S]crap the noise-making device idea and let the pedestrians die. I am one of them and am fully prepared to take that risk. Let them die.




A tornado’s “secret sound” could help predict where it will strike

Matt Simon, Wired, writes about research into the low-frequency sound waves called infrasound that tornados produce but humans can’t hear.  We know that the sound of a tornado is loud, like a freight train overhead, but researchers believe that “storms may emit characteristic infrasounds perhaps an hour before they develop into tornadoes.”

While the research is in the early stages, with enough data the researchers hope that they can one day “detect these sounds, pinpoint the size and location of an impending twister, and better warn communities.” And if the infrasound research is reliable, then maybe one day people living in tornado alley could have infrasound detectors in their homes, “like a smoke alarm.”

Hear livestreaming audio from 4,000 feet below the ocean

Photo credit: Matt McGee licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

courtesy of researchers from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute via an ultra-sensitive microphone, a hydrophone, that was installed about 20 miles off the California coast in 2015. The “audio is amplified so you can hear it with normal speakers, but some creatures — like the baleen whale — require high-quality headphones or a subwoofer to hear the low frequency vocalizations.” Depending on when you tune in, you may hear nothing or you could hear “whales, dolphins, sea lions, boats, rain, wind, earthquakes, and other sounds.”

Intrigued? Click here to listen in:

A beautiful noise: noise as protest

Armenian women, as part of the mass antigovernment protests that erupted over the idea that former president Serzh Sarkisian would be prime minister just after serving two terms as president, tell him it’s his him it’s his ‘Last Call’.

Borrowing a page from similar protests around the world, Armenian women banged pots, pans, and other utensils for 15 minutes at 11:00 p.m. on April 22nd in Yerevan, the Armenian capital.  And here is what Sarkisian heard:

And the next day, he resigned.