Natural Soundscapes May Become ‘Digital Fossils’
Sounds are integral to Henry David Thoreau’s “Walden,” the book about two years he spent living in a cabin in the woods near Walden Pond in Massachusetts in 1846-47 — the wind blowing through the rushes, the rumbling of the ice melting in the spring, owls screeching in the night.
Oh, and the whistle of the steam engines from passing trains and church bells ringing in Concord on Sundays, miles away. Thoreau went to Walden to live simply amid nature. The sounds of humanity followed him. Now, there is hardly a spot on the planet where our noise doesn’t mix with (or intrude on, from another perspective) the sounds of the natural world, says Purdue Univ. Prof. Bryan Pijanowski.
Eventually, the only way people may be able to hear nature on its own terms is through an artificial digital world, much like “Star Trek,” says Pijanowski, an ecologist leading a Purdue-centered international effort to collect a digital archive of high-resolution video — and especially sound — from signature natural areas around the world.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/09/natural-soundscapes-may-become-%E2%80%98digital-fossils%E2%80%99
English is Structured for Incremental Learning
Words in the English language are structured to help children learn according to research led by Lancaster Univ. Words like “woof” accurately represent the sound of a dog while sounds with similar meanings may have a similar structure i.e. the “sl” sound at the beginning of a word often has negative properties as in “slime, slur, slum, slug.”
An international team led by Prof. Padraic Monaghan from the Department of Psychology at Lancaster Univ. provides for the first time a comprehensive analysis of sound meaning structure using statistical techniques from biology and genetics. The research, published in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, shows that the structure of the vocabulary in English helps both children and adults.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/08/english-structured-incremental-learning
Algorithm Makes Playlist for Your Favorite Novel
When reading a novel, it’s common to let one’s mind wander into the imaginary: what might these characters look or sound like? Now, a new project uses algorithms to translate the emotions conveyed within a text into music that reflects the same sentiments.
TransProse, as the project is called, is a collaboration between Hannah Davis, a New York-based programmer and artist, and Saif Mohammad, a research officer at the National Research Council Canada in Ottawa.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/05/algorithm-makes-playlist-your-favorite-novel
Listening to Coffee Could Perfect Roasting
People around the world are drawn to coffee’s powerful allure — for its beloved smell, taste and for the caffeine boost it provides. As you enjoy your coffee beverage, however, odds are good you’re probably not thinking about the coffee bean roasting process behind it.
But for some the love of coffee runs so deep that they go so far as to roast their own coffee beans. Controlling the roast time and temperature profile allows them to dial in the range of roast levels from light to dark, which greatly affects the style, flavor and aroma of the resulting beverage.
This drove Preston Wilson, a coffee aficionado and acoustician who normally focuses on studying underwater acoustics in his role as an associate professor in The Univ. of Texas at Austin’s Cockrell School of Engineering, to explore the potential of using the “cracking” sounds emitted by coffee beans during the roasting process — as the basis for an automated acoustical roast monitoring technique.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/05/listening-coffee-could-perfect-roasting
Pregnant Women Have Greater Response to Music
Music can be soothing or stirring, it can make us dance or make us sad. Blood pressure, heartbeat, respiration and even body temperature – music affects the body in a variety of ways. It triggers especially powerful physical reactions in pregnant women. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig have discovered that pregnant women compared to their non-pregnant counterparts rate music as more intensely pleasant and unpleasant, and found that listening to music while pregnant was associated with greater changes in blood pressure. Music appears to have an especially strong influence on pregnant women, a fact that may relate to a prenatal conditioning of the fetus to music.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/05/pregnant-women-have-greater-response-music
When cancer progresses and spreads to the bone, patients often suffer debilitating pain. Now, a new phase III clinical trial shows that non-invasive, focused and magnetic resonance-guided ultrasound treatment that heats the cancer within the bone, relieves pain and improves function for most patients when other treatment options are limited. The results were published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (JNCI).
Magnetic resonance guided focused ultrasound surgery (MRgFUS) is a technique that’s been safely used to treat thousands of women with uterine fibroids. However, “this is the first phase III study to use this technology in the treatment of cancer,” says the study’s principal investigator and lead author Mark Hurwitz, Vice Chairman of Quality, Safety and Performance Excellence and Director of Thermal Oncology in the department of Radiation Oncology at Thomas Jefferson Univ.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/05/ultrasound-reduces-cancer-pain
Australian researchers are trying a novel way to boost the power of cochlear implants. They used the technology to beam gene therapy into the ears of deaf animals and found the combination improved hearing.
The approach reported this week isn’t ready for human testing, but it’s part of growing research into ways to let users of cochlear implants experience richer, more normal sound.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/04/gene-therapy-may-improve-cochlear-implants
Global Soundscapes Day to Record Sounds of Earth
A Purdue Univ. researcher is collaborating with partners around the globe for a special Earth Day experience on Tuesday, April 22, designed to capture up to 1 million natural sound recordings and upload them for preservation.
Global Soundscapes Day, led by Purdue ecologist Bryan Pijanowski, will shine the spotlight on the importance of natural soundscapes and the potential for growing research and encouraging middle school and high school students about the career potentials in this field.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/04/global-soundscapes-day-record-sounds-earth
Stadium Acoustics Can Damage Hearing
The roar of the crowd is a major part of the excitement of attending a sporting event. A noisy, engaged crowd makes for a better experience for fans, and is often credited with helping the players on the field, too. “The players love it,” said Carl Francis, director of communications for the NFL Players Association. “Fan support definitely has an impact on the players.”
Stadium designers know this, and the new generation of stadiums now incorporate design features that help boost fan support by trapping and amplifying crowd noise. The most important aspects are to keep the size of the stadium as small as possible, and to provide reflecting surfaces that can turn the noise back to the crowd, said Jack Wrightson, a Dallas-based acoustical consultant who has worked on the design of dozens of athletic venues in North America.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/04/stadium-acoustics-can-damage-hearing
Nuclear Monitoring Experts Could Tell if Plane Exploded
The head of the organization that monitors the nuclear test ban treaty says he has asked its experts to see if they detected an explosion at high altitude of the missing Malaysian Airlines plane.
Lassina Zerbo, executive director of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization told a news conference that the CTBTO uses “infrasound” — or infrasonic sensors — to monitor the earth mainly for atmospheric nuclear explosions.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/03/nuclear-monitoring-experts-could-tell-if-plane-exploded
Researchers Assess Acoustics of Stonehenge
Why did the builders of Stonehenge choose to transport giant bluestones hundreds of kilometers from Wales to Salisbury Plain? George Nash from Univ. of Bristol’s Department of Archaeology and Anthropology is involved in research which is taking a novel approach to solving the mystery.
The Landscape and Perception Project, led by Paul Devereux and Jon Wozencroft from the Royal College of Art, has been assessing the archaeoacoustical value of the bluestones, with Nash and prehistorian Pro. Timothy Darvill of Bournemouth Univ. acting as advisors on the project.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/03/researchers-assess-acoustics-stonehenge
Metamaterials Twist Sound
A Chinese-U.S. research team is exploring the use of metamaterials — artificial materials engineered to have exotic properties not found in nature — to create devices that manipulate sound in versatile and unprecedented ways.
In the journal Applied Physics Letters, which is produced by AIP Publishing, the team reports a simple design for a device, called an acoustic field rotator, which can twist wave fronts inside it so that they appear to be propagating from another direction.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/03/metamaterials-twist-sound
Human, Dog Brains Have ‘Voice Areas’
The first study to compare brain function between humans and any non-primate animal shows that dogs have dedicated voice areas in their brains, just as people do. Dog brains, like those of people, are also sensitive to acoustic cues of emotion, according to a study in the Cell Press journal Current Biology.
The findings suggest that voice areas evolved at least 100 million years ago, the age of the last common ancestor of humans and dogs, the researchers say. It also offers new insight into humans’ unique connection with our best friends in the animal kingdom and helps to explain the behavioral and neural mechanisms that made this alliance so effective for tens of thousands of years.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/02/human-dog-brains-have-voice-areas
Materials Offer New Ways to Control Sound, Light
Flexible, layered materials textured with nanoscale wrinkles could provide a new way of controlling the wavelengths and distribution of waves, whether of sound or light. The new method, developed by researchers at MIT, could eventually find applications from nondestructive testing of materials to sound suppression, and could also provide new insights into soft biological systems and possibly lead to new diagnostic tools.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/01/materials-offer-new-ways-control-sound-light
Phonons Can Control Sound, Heat
Imagine living on a bustling city block, but free from the noise of car horns and people on the street. The emerging field of phononics could one day make this a reality.
The phonon, like the photon or electron, is a physical particle that travels like waves, representing mechanical vibration. Phonons transmit everyday sound and heat. Recent progress in phononics has led to the development of new ideas and devices that are using phononic properties to control sound and heat, according to a new review in Nature.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2013/11/phonons-can-control-sound-heat