Posts Tagged ‘art’

Things that go thump in the night…

Maybe you are familiar with images of the northern lights or perhaps have been lucky enough to see them yourself, but did you know that apparently they also make a sound?  According to, acoustic researchers at Alto University in Finland have identified a clapping sound associated with the aurora borealis that occurs 230 ft above the ground!  Just as is true with most mystery noises, they are brief and faint, require very careful listening as well as very low background noise in order to be heard.   There is an audio recording on here if you want to listen…

aurora borealis

[via, photo: shawn malone]

Frozen spring

One of the things one learns studying acoustics (and many other physics topics) is that the behavior of a complicated physical system can often be simplified into an analogy of masses and springs.  The gobs of air that surround us have elasticity and they have mass, and these are the properties that allow waves to travel through the air as sound.

Perhaps a more intuitive example of a spring-mass system can be found in any toy store: the classic Slinky.  The familiar coil toy can be used to demonstrate lots of different wave phenomena (longitudinal waves, transverse waves, standing waves), and when that gets boring, it is more commonly used to demonstrate walking down stairs.

We recently came across this high-speed video of the very interesting spring-mass behavior of an extended Slinky at rest, dropped from height, in which the bottom end of the Slinky seems frozen in mid-air.  There are excellent technical explanations of what is going on out there (and probably on a tricky physics midterm or two), but suffice it to say that it all goes back to the interplay between mass and elasticity as the Slinky simultaneously contracts and falls.

[Via, @jenvalentino]

Random order

Using simple, functional components like DC motors, wire, and cardboard boxes, Swiss artist Zimoun assembles building blocks of motion into massive, engrossing sonic environments. An individual motor may exhibit repetitive motion and deterministic noise, but dozens of identical systems spawn complex imagery and random sound that evoke organic phenomena from wind in the grass to running water.

Zimoun’s “Sculpting Sound” is on display through January 8 at the Ringling Museum of Art in Florida, and the artist has an upcoming solo exhibition scheduled for February 2 – March 10, 2012 at Bitforms Gallery in Chelsea.

[via It’s Nice That]

What do fireworks sound like on 72nd Street?

Getting off the train at 72nd St, on the subway platform we heard a funny sound and wondered ‘what is that?’  Well, it turned out to be the sound of fireworks above for the kickoff of the NYC Marathon.  A cell phone microphone does not completely do this justice but you can hear the reflections of sound off of the building facades and the overall reverberation somewhat.

9 Great Engineering Animations…

Even if you aren’t an engineer, these are pretty neat. click here to see them all

(brought to you Prosig)

Signal to Noise

Those of us in the acoustics world often talk about signal to noise ratio.  Wouldn’t it be more fun if it was a party instead of a ratio?  The Museum of the Moving Image is hosting its first Signal to Noise party this weekend as part of its grand re-opening out in Astoria.  The museum will be taken over with live electronic music, moving image performances, and interactive art.  Maybe we will see you there…

Signal to Noise