Tag Archive: Atlas Obscura

Teach yourself to echolocate

Photo of Daniel Kish by PopTech licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Jessica Leigh Hester, Atlas Obscura, writes about how we can learn to navigate with sound. Hester introduces us to Daniel Kish, who, after losing his vision as an infant, taught himself to move around with echolocation. You may be aware that bats use echolocation for navigation, and, apparently, so does Kish. Hester writes that he “uses his mouth to produce a series of short, crisp clicking sounds, and then listens to how those sounds bounce off the surrounding landscape.” By employing echolocation, Kish can then map out his environment.

Want to give it a try? Kish teaches echolocation, mostly to blind students, and he gives Hester an introductory lesson on how to get in tune with your sonic environment. Click the link for Kish’s primer.

Scientists are learning to decode the sounds of icebergs

Sarah Laskow, Atlas Obscura, reports about what scientists have learned from “Listening to Icebergs’ Loud and Mournful Breakup Songs.” Laskow writes that seven years after the largest iceberg broke off of the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica, “the largest remaining chunk floated out into the South Pacific where, in the warmer water, it began to disintegrate.”  And for the next year, “the ocean was noisier than usual.”  Scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) had suspended hydrophones underwater and they “were picking up strange signals.” Interestingly, the scientists “didn’t even know that icebergs made noise,” says Haru Matsumoto, an ocean engineer at NOAA who has studied these sounds.”  But now they do and they measure “the extent to which those sounds contribute to the noise of the ocean,” because “the sounds of ice could help them understand the behavior and breakup of icebergs and ice shelves as the poles warm up.”

Click this link to hear what the scientists are hearing.