Tag: noise (page 1 of 2)

Listen To These Eerie ‘X-Files’ Sounds Recorded in Earth’s Stratosphere

Excerpt from huffingtonpost.comWhat does the edge of space sound like? Pretty darn strange. Just have a listen to these acoustic signals recorded in the stratosphere some 22 miles above Earth's surface (above). At frequencies below 20 hertz, thes...

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Jane Goodall Says SeaWorld ‘Should Be Closed Down’

Jane Goodall

Excerpt from huffingtonpost.com

NEW YORK -- Jane Goodall wants to see SeaWorld go extinct.
The 81-year-old primatologist said whales and dolphins should never be held in captivity, and that the entertainment company known for its orca shows should be shuttered.

“They definitely should be closed down,” Goodall said in an interview with The Huffington Post earlier this month. 

She’s not alone. SeaWorld’s stock price has been plummeting since July 2013, when CNN released the documentary “Blackfish." The film exposed the misery endured by SeaWorld's trained orca and the dangers posed to trainers working with stressed-out carnivorous whales. 

seaworld stock
SeaWorld's stock price has declined precipitously since the 2013 release of "Blackfish."

One of the problems highlighted in "Blackfish" is that cetacea, the family of aquatic mammals that includes whales, dolphins and porpoises, communicate with sonar-like sound waves. When confined to tanks, Goodall noted, those waves echo back and create a hellish cacophony for the animals.

“When they are contained in these tanks … that is acoustical hell,” said Goodall, adding that her nonprofit organization, the Jane Goodall Institute, is urging aquariums across the country to free their whales. “The sounds bounce back from the walls of the tank.”

SeaWorld aggressively refuted many of the film's claims, including allegations that its whales were unhealthy and that the company tried to cover up details surrounding the 2010 death of trainer Dawn Brancheau, who was mauled by an orca. 

After the release of "Blackfish," SeaWorld saw a rapid decline in visitors, and with that, in the price of shares. But on Monday, Goldman Sachs upgraded the stock, optimistic that the company can retool its image as consumers start forgetting about the blockbuster documentary.

"Jane Goodall is a respected scientist and advocate for the world’s primates, but we couldn’t disagree more with her on this," Becca Bides, a SeaWorld spokeswoman, said in an emailed statement. 

"Zoos and marine mammal parks like SeaWorld allow people to experience animals in a way that is inspiring and educational."
Asked about the allegation that SeaWorld's tanks are detrimental to whales, Bides denied the claim, arguing that they are specially crafted to keep underwater noise levels quieter than the ambient ocean.

As of last December, SeaWorld held 22 orcas in its three U.S. marine parks, five of which were caught in the wild, according to the nonprofit advocacy group Whale and Dolphin Conservation. A total of 57 orcas are held in captivity around the world, the group notes. At least 160 orcas have died in captivity since 1961, and an additional 30 pregnant whales have miscarried or had stillborn calves.

Goodall said she remains hopeful that humans are gaining a greater sense of empathy for animals and losing interest in watching them perform for entertainment.

“It’s not only that they’re really big, highly intelligent and social animals so that the capture and confinement in itself is cruel,” she said of the captive orcas, but also that “they have emotions like ours.”
She welcomed the decision by Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus to eliminate elephants in its shows by 2018.

“If you see what happens to those baby elephants, the way they’re trained, it’s absolutely chilling,” said Goodall, who had a pendant in the shape of Africa hanging from her necklace. “They lose all of their young elephant playfulness, and then they can be trained.”

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Is In-Flight Refueling Coming to Commercial Airlines?

Excerpt from space.com

This article was originally published on The Conversation. The publication contributed this article to Space.com's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.

There’s real pressure on the aviation industry to introduce faster, cheaper and greener aircraft, while maintaining the high safety standards demanded of airlines worldwide.

Airlines carry more than three billion passengers each year, which presents an enormous challenge not only for aircraft manufacturers but for the civil aviation infrastructure that makes this extraordinary annual mass-migration possible. Many international airports are close to or already at capacity. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has estimated that, without intervention, many global airports – including major hubs such as London Heathrow, Amsterdam Schiphol, Beijing and Dubai – will have run out of runway or terminal capacity by 2020. 

The obvious approach to tackling this problem is to extend and enlarge airport runways and terminals – such as the long-proposed third runway at London Heathrow. However there may be other less conventional alternatives, such as introducing in-flight refuelling for civil aircraft on key long-haul routes. Our project, Research on a Cruiser-Enabled Air Transport Environment (Recreate), began in 2011 to evaluate whether this was something that could prove a viable, and far cheaper, solution.

If in-flight refuelling seems implausible, it’s worth remembering that it was first trialed in the 1920s, and the military has continued to develop the technology ever since. The appeal is partly to reduce the aircraft’s weight on take-off, allowing it to carry additional payload, and partly to extend its flight range. Notably, during the Falklands War in 1982 RAF Vulcan bombers used in-flight refuelling to stage what was at the time the longest bombing mission ever, flying 8,000 miles non-stop from Ascension Island in the South Atlantic to the Falklands and back.

Reducing take-off weight could offer many benefits for civilian aircraft too. Without the need to carry so much fuel the aircraft can be smaller, which means less noise on take-off and landing and shorter runways. This opens up the network of smaller regional airports as new potential sites for long-haul routes, relieving pressure on the major hubs that are straining at the seams.

There are environmental benefits too, as a smaller, lighter aircraft requires less fuel to reach its destination. Our initial estimates from air traffic simulations demonstrate that it’s possible to reduce fuel burn by up to 11% over today’s technology by simply replacing existing global long-haul flight routes with specifically designed 250-seater aircraft with a range of 6,000nm after one refuelling – roughly the distance from London to Hong Kong. This saving could potentially grow to 23% with further efficiencies, all while carrying the same number of passengers the same distance as is possible with the current aircraft fleet, and despite the additional fuel burn of the tanker aircraft.

Tornado fighter jets in-flight refuel
Imagine if these Tornado fighter jets were 250-seater passenger aircraft and you’ve got the idea.

However, this is not the whole picture – in-flight refuelling will require the aerial equivalent of petrol stations in order to deliver keep passenger aircraft in the sky. With so much traffic it simply wouldn’t be possible to refuel any aircraft any time, anywhere it was needed. The location of these refuelling zones, coupled with the flight distance between the origin and destination airports can greatly affect the potential benefits achievable, possibly pulling flights away from their shortest route, and even making refuelling on some routes impossible – if for example the deviation to the nearest refuelling zone meant burning as much fuel as would have been saved.

Safety and automation

As with all new concepts – particularly those that involve bringing one aircraft packed with people and another full of fuel into close proximity during flight – it’s quite right to ask whether this is safe. To try and answer this question, the Dutch National Aerospace Laboratory and German Aerospace Centre used their flight simulators to test the automated in-flight refuelling flight control system developed as part of the Recreate project.

One simulator replicated the manoeuvre from the point of view of the tanker equipped with an in-flight refuelling boom, the other simulated the aircraft being refuelled mid-flight. Critical test situations such as engine failure, high air turbulence and gusts of wind were simulated with real flight crews to assess the potential danger to the operation. The results were encouraging, demonstrating that the manoeuvre doesn’t place an excessive workload on the pilots, and that the concept is viable from a human as well as a technical perspective.

So far we’ve demonstrated the potential aerial refuelling holds for civilian aviation, but putting it into practice would still pose challenges. Refuelling hubs would need to be established worldwide, shared between airlines. There would need to be fundamental changes to airline pilot training, alongside a wider public acceptance of this departure from traditional flight operations.

However, it does demonstrate that, in addition to all the high-tech work going into designing new aircraft, new materials, new engines and new fuels, the technology we already have offers solutions to the long-term problems of ferrying billions of passengers by air around the world.

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Amazing Images of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko

Rosetta photo of Comet 67P/C-G.
Comet 67P/C-G is about as large as Central Park of Manhattan Island, New York

Excerpt from nytimes.com


The European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft caught up with Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko last August, then dropped a lander onto the comet in November. Now Rosetta will follow the rubber-duck-shaped comet as it swings closer to the sun.
Scale in miles
Scale in km
Rosetta photo of Comet 67P/C-G.
1/2 MILE

March 9 Rosetta was 45 miles from Comet 67P/C-G when it photographed the comet’s head ringed with a halo of gas and dust. These jets extend from active areas of the comet’s surface and will become much more prominent over the next few months as the comet approaches the sun.
Rosetta photo of Comet 67P/C-G.
1/2 MILE

March 6 The comet’s head is angled down in this image of crisscrossing sunlit jets taken from 53 miles away.
Comet’s location when Rosetta was launched Rosetta launched in March 2004
with Comet
Orbit of
Rosetta today

Where is Rosetta? The Rosetta spacecraft took 10 years to match speed and direction with Comet 67P/C-G. The chase ended last August, and Rosetta will now follow the comet in its elliptical orbit as it moves closer to the sun. The spacecraft is no longer orbiting the comet because of increasing dust, but it is planning a series of close flybys.
Rosetta photo of Comet 67P/C-G.
1/2 MILE

March 6 Rosetta was 52 miles away when it looked up at the comet’s flat underbelly. The smooth plain at center covered with large boulders is named Imhotep.
Rosetta photo of Comet 67P/C-G.
1/2 MILE

Feb. 28 Rosetta captured a profile of the comet surrounded by curving jets of gas and dust from active regions. The spacecraft was 64 miles away.

Rosetta photo of Comet 67P/C-G.

Feb. 25–27 One day on Comet 67P/C-G is about 12 hours, the time it takes the comet to spin on its axis. The jets of gas and dust surrounding the comet are thought to curve from a combination of the comet’s rotation and the uneven gravity of its two-lobed structure.
Rosetta photo of Comet 67P/C-G.
1/2 MILE

Feb. 20 The comet’s sunlit underbelly casts a shadow obscuring the neck that joins the two lobes. Rosetta took this image from 74 miles away.
Rosetta photo of Comet 67P/C-G.

Feb. 18 Pale jets of gas and dust surround Comet 67P/C-G, seen from 123 miles away. Bright marks in the background are a mix of stars, camera noise and streaks from small particles ejected from the comet.
Rosetta photo of Comet 67P/C-G.
1/4 MILE
Panorama by The New York Times

Feb. 14 On Valentine’s Day, Rosetta made its first close flyby of the comet, passing within four miles of the surface. Here the spacecraft looks down on the large depression at the top of the comet’s head.

Rosetta photo of Comet 67P/C-G.
500 FEET

Feb. 14 An image of the comet’s underbelly taken six miles above the surface during the Valentine’s Day flyby. The smooth plain in the foreground is called Imhotep.

Rosetta photo of Comet 67P/C-G.
1/2 MILE

Feb. 9 The comet is upside down in this image from 65 miles away, and a fan-shaped jet of dust streams from the comet’s neck region.

Rosetta photo of Comet 67P/C-G.
1/2 MILE

Feb. 6 Jets of gas and dust extend from the comet’s neck and other sunlit areas in this image taken from 77 miles away.

Rosetta photo of Comet 67P/C-G.
1/4 MILE

Feb. 3 This close-up image of the comet’s neck was taken from 18 miles away, and was the last image taken from orbit around Comet 67P/C-G. Rosetta will continue to follow the comet, but will leave its gravity-bound orbit because of increasing dust and instead begin a series of flybys.

Rosetta photo of Comet 67P/C-G.
1/4 MILE

Jan. 31 The comet’s head, neck and back are sunlit in this image taken from 17 miles away. A prominent jet of gas and dust extends from an active region of the surface near the comet’s neck.

Rosetta photo of Comet 67P/C-G.
1/4 MILE

Jan. 16 The tail of the comet’s larger lobe points up, revealing a smooth plain named Imhotep at left. Rosetta was 18 miles away when it took this image.

Rosetta photo of Comet 67P/C-G.
1/4 MILE

Jan. 3 The smooth plain named Imhotep, at center right, lies on the comet’s flat underbelly, seen here from a distance of about 18 miles.

Rosetta photo of Comet 67P/C-G.
1/4 MILE

Dec. 14, 2014 The large triangular boulder on the flat Imhotep plain is named Cheops, after the Egyptian pyramid. The spacecraft was about 12 miles from the comet when it took this image.

Rosetta photo of Comet 67P/C-G.
1/4 MILE

Dec. 10 Sunlight falls between the body and head of the comet, lighting up a large group of boulders in the smooth Hapi region of the comet’s neck. To the right of the boulders, the cliffs of Hathor form the underside of the comet’s head. Rosetta took this image from a distance of 12 miles.

Rosetta photo of Comet 67P/C-G.
1/4 MILE

Dec. 2 The round depression in the middle of the comet’s head is filled with shadow in this image taken 12 miles above the comet.

Rosetta photo of Comet 67P/C-G.
1/4 MILE

Nov. 22 An overexposed image of Comet 67P/C-G from 19 miles away shows faint jets of gas and dust extending from the sunlit side of the comet.

Philae photo from the surface of Comet 67P/C-G.

Nov. 12 Rosetta’s washing-machine sized lander Philae successfully touched down on the comet’s head. But anchoring harpoons failed and Philae bounced twice before going missing in the shadow of a cliff or crater (above). Without sunlight Philae quickly lost power, but might revive as the comet gets closer to the sun. On March 12, Rosetta resumed listening for radio signals from the missing lander.

Rosetta photo of Comet 67P/C-G.

Photo illustration by The New York Times

How big is the comet? The body of Comet 67P/C-G is about as long as Central Park. For images of Rosetta’s rendezvous and the Philae landing, see Landing on a Comet, 317 Million Miles From Home.

Sources: European Space Agency and the Rosetta mission. Images by ESA/Rosetta, except where noted. Some images are composite panoramas created by ESA, and most images were processed by ESA to bring out details of the comet’s activity.

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New research shows billions of habitable planets exist in our galaxy

CGI of how the Milky Way galaxy may appear from deep space

Excerpt from thespacereporter.com

Analysis of data collected by NASA’s Kepler space telescope has led researchers at the Australian National University and the Niels Bohr Institute to conclude that Earth is only one of billions of potentially life-sustaining planets in our galaxy.

In order for a planet to sustain life, it must orbit its star at just the right distance to provide sufficient light and warmth to maintain liquid water without too much radiation. This perfect orbital distance is considered to be the habitable zone.

According to a Weather Channel report, there are an average of two planets per star in the Milky Way Galaxy orbiting within their habitable zones. That brings the total number of planets with the potential for holding liquid water to 100 billion.

Scientists assume that water would be an essential ingredient for life to evolve on other planets, but it is not a certainty.

“If you have liquid water, then you should have better conditions for life, we think,” said Steffen Jacobsen of Niels Bohr. “Of course, we don’t know this yet. We can’t say for certain.”

To reach their conclusion, the researchers studied 151 planetary systems and focused on those with four or more planets. They used a concept called the Titus-Bode law to calculate where unseen planets might be located in a system based on the placements of other planets around the star. The Titus-Bode law suggested the existence of Uranus before it was actually seen.

The data will require further analysis and the sky will require further searching to yield a more accurate number of potentially life-harboring planets.
“Some of these planets are so small the Kepler team will probably have missed them in the first attempt because the signals we get are so weak. They may be hidden in the noise,” Jacobsen said.

The initial analysis, however, is extremely promising in the possibility of finding habitable planets. “Our research indicates that there are a lot of planets in the habitable zone and we know there are a lot of stars like the one we’re looking at. We know that means we’re going to have many billions of planets in the habitable zone,” said Jacobsen, who considers that “very good news for the search for life.”

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Habitable’ Super-Earth Might Exist After All

Artist's impression of Gliese 581d, a controversial exoplanet that may exist only 20 light-years from Earth.

Excerpt from news.discovery.com

Despite having discovered nearly 2,000 alien worlds beyond our solar system, the profound search for exoplanets — a quest focused on finding a true Earth analog — is still in its infancy. It is therefore not surprising that some exoplanet discoveries aren’t discoveries at all; they are in fact just noise in astronomical data sets.

But when disproving the existence of extrasolar planets that have some characteristics similar to Earth, we need to take more care during the analyses of these data, argue astronomers from Queen Mary, University of London and the University of Hertfordshire.

In a paper published by the journal Science last week, the researchers focus on the first exoplanet discovered to orbit a nearby star within its habitable zone.

Revealed in 2009, Gliese 581d hit the headlines as a “super-Earth” that had the potential to support liquid water on its possibly rocky surface. With a mass of around 7 times that of Earth, Gliese 581d would be twice as big with a surface gravity around twice that of Earth. Though extreme, it’s not such a stretch of the imagination that such a world, if it is proven to possess an atmosphere and liquid ocean, that life could take hold.

And the hunt for life-giving alien worlds is, of course, the central motivation for exoplanetary studies.

But the exoplanet signal has been called into doubt.
Gliese 581d’s star, Gliese 581, is a small red dwarf around 20 light-years away. Red dwarfs are known to be tempestuous little stars, often generating violent flaring outbursts and peppered in dark features called starspots. To detect the exoplanet, astronomers measured the very slight frequency shift (Doppler shift) of light from the star — as the world orbits, it exerts a tiny gravitational “tug”, causing the star to wobble. When this periodic wobble is detected, through an astronomical technique known as the “radial velocity method,” a planet may be revealed.

Last year, however, in a publication headed by astronomers at The Pennsylvania State University, astronomers pointed to the star’s activity as an interfering factor that may have imitated the signal from an orbiting planet when in fact, it was just noisy data.

But this conclusion was premature, argues Guillem Anglada-Escudé, of Queen Mary, saying that “one needs to be more careful with these kind of claims.”

“The existence, or not, of GJ 581d is significant because it was the first Earth-like planet discovered in the ‘Goldilocks’-zone around another star and it is a benchmark case for the Doppler technique,” said Anglada-Escudé in a university press release. “There are always discussions among scientists about the ways we interpret data but I’m confident that GJ 581d has been in orbit around Gliese 581 all along. In any case, the strength of their statement was way too strong. If the way to treat the data had been right, then some planet search projects at several ground-based observatories would need to be significantly revised as they are all aiming to detect even smaller planets.”

The upshot is that this new paper challenges the statistical technique used in 2014 to account for the signal being stellar noise — focusing around the presence of starspots in Gliese 581′s photosphere.

Gliese 581d isn’t the only possible exoplanet that exists around that star — controversy has also been created by another, potentially habitable exoplanet called Gliese 581g. Also originally detected through the wobble of the star, this 3-4 Earth mass world was found to also be in orbit within the habitable zone. But its existence has been the focus of several studies supporting and discounting its presence. Gliese 581 is also home to 3 other confirmed exoplanets, Gliese 581e, b and c.

Currently, observational data suggests Gliese 581g was just noise, but as the continuing debate about Gliese 581d is proving, this is one controversy that will likely keep on rumbling in the scientific journals for some time.

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You’re flying with NASA and you don’t even know it

Excerpt from cnn.comBy Thom Patterson You know those little "winglets" that point up from the tips of airliner wings? Those were developed by NASA. And, you know those little grooves in runways that channel away standing water?NASA again.America's spac...

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NASA Brings Scientists & Theologians Together To Prepare World For Extraterrestrial Contact

Arjun Walia, Collective-EvolutionA couple of months ago top U.S. astronomers gathered in front of congress to let them know that extraterrestrial life exists without question. Their main argument was the size of the universe, emphasizing that there are trillions of stars out there, with one in every five most likely harboring an Earth-like planet. It’s also important to keep in mind that planets do not have to be “Earth-like” in order to harbor life. You can read mor [...]

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What is Enlightenment?

Thomas Razzeto, GrahamHancock.comMy most passionate plea is for you to wake up to your true self as pure awareness. We have all heard it said that you are not a human being having a spiritual experience, but instead, you are a spiritual being having a human experience. Yet you are not a being of any kind, spiritual or physical. You are pure awareness! And most importantly, your awareness is the One Awareness – the Divine Awareness – and as such, it is the only reality tha [...]

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Scientists are recording the sound of the whole planet

Researchers are listening to everything from airplanes to bat calls in order to learn more about the state of the environment

By Josh Dzieza

In a few weeks, sensors in Indiana will go online that will record, in the words of Bryan Pijanowski, every sound the Earth makes. The array of microphones, geophones, and barometric gauges will run for a year, taping everything from the songs of birds arriving in the spring to the vibrations of the continent as ocean waves pound the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. They will measure earthquakes on the other side of the world and the stomping of cattle nearby, the ultrasonic whistles of bats and the barometric drop of cold fronts. “I joke to my physicist friends that if I had a microphone small enough, I could record the Higgs boson,” Pijanowski says.

Day Australia spectrogram
A color-coded spectrogram of 24 hours of noise in the Australian bush, by Michael Towsey of the Queensland University of Technology. The morning chorus starts at 4:30AM and the evening cicada chorus around 6:00PM.

Pijanowski is a soundscape ecologist, a term he coined three years ago to describe a new approach to studying sound. Rather than look at how, for example, a single species of frog calls for a mate, soundscape ecologists study how all the sounds in a space interact, from frog calls to car traffic to thunder. "There are what I call rhythms of nature, there are periodicities like the dawn chorus and certain crescendos during the seasons," Pijanowski says, referring to the way birds burst into song at sunrise. He believes listening to these patterns can tell us important things about the state of the natural world.

Though still small, the field is growing, thanks in no small measure to Pijanowski’s tireless efforts (and those of his grad students). For the last several years he’s been circling the globe, depositing microphones in Costa Rica, Borneo, Tippecanoe, the Sonoran desert, Alabama, the wildfire-ravaged Chiricahuas, and urban parks in Chicago, often giving talks along the way. You get the sense he’s slightly reserved except when talking about sound, at which point he gestures expansively and uses words like "marvelous," "magnificent," and "glorious."
"There are what I call rhythms of nature."
Earlier this year, Pijanowski launched the Global Soundscape Project, which is building a map of the world's sounds using an app that turns phones into recorders. Occasionally he has an IMAX crew in tow, part of a soundscape education program he’s filming. And every few months he convenes soundscape researchers for workshops, part of a grant from the National Science Foundation. He invites people from outside the sciences to participate. "When you look at arrangements of sound, working with musicians helps you to think about the orchestration of an ecosystem," he explains.
The idea that animal sounds follow a complex order goes back to Bernie Krause, a musician who in the 1960s and ’70s made a living doing sound work for the film industry, frequently taping things like jungle noises and whale songs. He became enamored of nature sounds and started accompanying researchers into the field to make recordings, eventually becoming the preeminent wildlife acoustician. In 1985, he was called on to lure a confused humpback whale, Humphrey, out of the Sacramento river using a feeding song.

Pijanowski's recording of cicadas in Borneo

Costa Rica soundscape
Pijanowski's recording of an hour in the La Selva rainforest in Costa Rica. The top spectrogram is the full hour and the three bottom ones are zoomed-in images of the 26 seconds following each of the three red markers. The audio corresponds to the zoomed in images.

As he sat in jungles and deserts around the world, Krause noticed that the sounds he heard could be surprisingly orderly. Different species seemed to occupy their own place in the sonic spectrum. Insects in Borneo might stridulate loudly at a middle frequency, alternating so as not to drown each other out. Birds rise above it by calling at a higher pitch, and birds with shorter calls fit in-between the calls of birds with longer ones. Frogs puncture the droning insect noise with short, loud bursts, and mammals take the bottom frequencies. Organisms, Krause hypothesized, evolved to partition acoustic bandwidth, calling out at different frequencies and at different intervals to be heard over one another. Animals would also have to evolve to be heard over sounds like thunder, wind, and rushing rivers — sounds that Krause, working with ecologist Stuart Gage, called geophony. And in more recent history, animals must also adjust to anthrophony: the sounds of human civilization.
Krause called his idea the acoustic niche hypothesis, and it had a corollary. If organisms evolved to share the acoustic spectrum, maybe disruptions from pollution, development, invasive species, and other threats would result in gaps in the arrangement of sounds. In 1989, Krause found what he believes is evidence of such audible damage. The year before, he had taken a recording of a forest in the Sierra Nevadas. He returned after it had been selectively logged and found the soundscape almost silent.

The idea that you can hear environmental damage is evocative — Rachel Carson knew that when she chose the title Silent Spring — but as powerful as Krause’s Sierra Nevada recording is, there are other potential explanations. It could have been a La Nina year, Pijanowski says, causing the birds showed up later. There could have been landscape changes elsewhere on their migratory route. There was no control group, no uncut forest in the same area to measure against.
In the last several years, researchers armed with microphones and data-sifting algorithms have been trying to explore and build on Krause’s ideas. They’re using microphones to monitor biodiversity in Costa Rica and Australia, and a similar network is being established in Germany. Other researchers have diagnosed dying coral reefs by the sound, as various fish and crustaceans go silent.
Pijanowski believes he’ll be able to hear shifts in the soundscape as the climate changes. Insects, whose life cycles are driven by temperature changes, will emerge earlier, while birds and mammals, whose behavior is driven primarily by the length of the day, will remain the same. Amphibians are driven by both factors, so it’s unclear how they’ll respond. New species will invade warming regions, potentially adding their own calls or silencing those of native animals. "We will start to hear a reassembly of the soundscape as summer comes earlier," Pijanowski says.

Amandine Gasc and Matt Harris retrieve a Songmeter recorder and two cameras

Pijanowski is responsible for much of the field’s recent growth, both by giving a name to what disparate researchers were doing, and by convening many of those researchers in workshops. The last one was held in Maine — fittingly, near the Rachel Carson Wildlife Preserve — and drew a group of ecologists, biologists, musicians, engineers, artists, and philosophers.
"It’s still in its renaissance period," explained Tom Seager, an ecologist from Arizona attending the workshop. "Where both technologists and artists can contribute."
As a fledgling field, there was a lot of debate over terms and concepts, discussions that frequently ended up in philosophical territory. One such debate was over what to call noises that humans make.

"I no longer like the term anthrophony," Stuart Gage said as he walked through the forest listening to birds. A gray-bearded, soft-spoken former entomologist-turned-soundscape ecologist, Gage has a measured way of speaking and a saintly determination to neither use insect repellent nor to swat the swarms of mosquitoes battening onto him. If Krause is the godfather of soundscape ecology and Pijanowski its current evangelist, Gage is the bridge. He helped Krause come up with the taxonomy of sound in the early 2000s and advised Pijanowski on his thesis. "I’ve argued with Bernie a number of times that we ought to use the term technophony to distinguish sounds humans make from technological sounds — because humans are critters too, we communicate in the same way, with our voices. But we also make things."
Jeff Migliozzi, a teacher at the Perkins School for the Blind, agreed. "You’re essentially redefining man, saying instead of being a biological creature, we’re creators of technology, and the rattle and the hum."
"Maybe that’s true," said Gage.
A model of different forms of sound and silence by Tim Mullett, University of Alaska, Fairbanks
A model of different forms of sound and silence in the Kenai Wildlife Refuge by Tim Mullett, University of Alaska, Fairbanks.
Out on the estuary, Pijanowski was checking a recorder he’d set up in May. It had captured the pounding surf, shrieking gulls, sparrows, crickets, and hawks. The tides set the rhythm: high tide was silent and low tide cacophonous, as the birds swooped down to devour animals trapped in the tide pools. There was a rhythm to the technophony too, a dawn chorus of diesel engines as fishermen moved up and down the coast, weekly influxes of jets and speedboats, heavier on the weekends and increasing into summer.
The issue of mechanical noise was a major theme of the workshop, and of soundscape ecology in general. Falk Huettmann from the University of Alaska Fairbanks projected a noise map of the Kenai Wildlife Refuge made by his graduate student Tim Mullett. Mullett had traveled deep into the glacial refuge to set up microphones, going high into the mountains dozens of miles from the nearest road. He still found mechanical noise everywhere, mostly from airplanes and snowmobiles.
Speaking grimly in a German accent, Huettmann declared, "We need to abandon the idea of wilderness. It doesn’t exist."

Mechanical noise impacts different animals in different ways. In some cases — sonar and marine mammals, to name one — it’s disorienting and damaging. In others, animals adapt in ways we’re just beginning to understand. Grasshoppers that live near roads evolve to call at a higher pitch, to be heard over traffic noise. Even when taken to a silent room in a lab, they stridulate at a higher frequency than more rural grasshoppers, which makes sense — only grasshoppers that can be heard above the cars would find a mate.
"We need to abandon the idea of wilderness. It doesn’t exist."
There seems to be variation in how birds respond to noise. In 2003, researchers found that great tits (a bird) living in loud parts of the Dutch city of Leiden called at a higher pitch than tits in quiet parts. Urban robbins, meanwhile, appear to call at night not because they’re confused by city lights, as previously thought, but because they want to avoid the noisy day. Another researcher found that responses to noise varied depending on the species: one bird, the gray flycatcher, fled areas where gas drillers were using noisy air compressors, while ash-throated flycatchers simply called at a higher frequency. Sharon Gill, a biologist at Western Michigan University who was at the workshop, is studying how individual chipping sparrows respond to noise. Her initial findings indicate that there’s great variation in how individuals react, with sparrows with deeper calls raising their pitch more drastically to be heard over the sound of traffic.
"I’m really interested in the persistence of species in a changing world," Gill says. "This isn’t the environment these animals evolved in, with these high levels of noise."

False color spectrogram Australia
The sound of nine months in the Australian bush, modeled by Michael Towsey of the Queensland University of Technology. The white lines represent dawn and dusk.

Soundscape ecology’s current challenge is finding a way to sort through the vast amounts of data being collected. In just a few years, Pijanowski’s lab has accrued tens of thousands of hours of audio.
There’s no way anyone could listen to all this audio, so algorithms need to sort through it. Current methods are somewhat crude. Gage’s index takes everything at a frequency below 2 kilohertz and labels it human, then quantifies the acoustic energy in the ranges above that. It’s roughly accurate, but certain animals, like the loon, call at a low frequency. Another method sorts sound by its shape on a spectrogram. Animal sounds are generally short and sharply peaking, whereas machines tend to drone at a constant level. Again, though, it’s not always true — think of crickets in the summer, or the aquatic bang of the air guns used in undersea oil and gas exploration. Machine learning could help correct these issues, though that research is just beginning.
Computer scientist Michael Towsey in Brisbane, Australia, is taking a visual approach, using multiple indices to create color-coded images of soundscapes. The idea is that a trained ecologist could look at the charts of sound over the course of a day, month, or year and identify changes, like an acoustic weather map.
The hope is that an algorithm with the right index will parse the audio ecologists are collecting, turning low-cost microphones into a powerful network of sensors. With a way to quickly digest audio, researchers would have a vast array of data on what species are where and when, data that over time could provide a valuable glimpse into the way the environment is changing.
"I looked for most of my scientific career for an instrument that would measure the environment," Gage says. "I use the analogy of a stethoscope. A doctor can use a stethoscope to tell 10 different things about your heart. We’re holding a stethoscope up to nature. We’re listening to the heartbeat of the environment, whether it’s the heartbeat of a city or the heartbeat of a forest, it’s the heartbeat of the biosphere."

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Just Being


5 June 2011  

Channeler:  sheryl pedersen

I've been going through a very challenging time supporting my daughter who is very ill. During this time, I found my self disconnected from my spirit friends. They w...

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HEAVEN #3742 Put Your Hand over Your Heart , February 22, 2011

{mainvote}God said:  

When you are aggrieved, put your hand over your heart, and your hand will be over My heart. We share heartbeats. You are in My heart always. When your hand covers your heart, you have also captured Mine. You plug in....

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Improve overall health with the sound of music

by Paul Fassa, citizen journalist See all articles by this author Email this author

(NaturalNews) The popular expression "music soothes the savage beast" is apparently attributed to different sources of earlier centuries. Whatever ...

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