Re: (More) Cool sounds from outer space!

Subject: Re: (More) Cool sounds from outer space!
From: Richard Wentk (
Date: Sun Jul 31 2005 - 07:02:38 EDT

At 08:23 31/07/2005, you wrote:

>There is no real difference. I 100% agree. Both are perfectly valid
>ways *to make music*. My only objection is when people talk about
>what the aurora or whatever "sounds" like. It doesn't "sound" like
>anything. To say that beautiful sounds come from space just isn't
>true. Perhaps I'm being a pedant here, but just as DNA doesn't
>"sound" like anything, neither does this aurora.

I think you're being a pedant.

If you use Chandra to take an X-ray image of a galaxy, you get a dataset
that then has to be reinterpreted into a visible picture. Still - the
picture *is* a visualisation of what the galaxy looks like in the x-ray
part of the spectrum.

Literally of course we can't see x-rays, and most of the time we can't even
see the target object with the naked eye. But that doesn't mean the result
isn't a valid, useful or interesting way of representing the dataset, or
that 'looks like' isn't a good description of the result.

Sonification swaps media and wavelengths, but it's still a representation
of a data set. So conceptually it's as valid to say that a piece of DNA
sounds like [a sound] as it is to say that it looks like a chain of
coloured balls or a string of linked GATC letters.

The real question seems to be how stupid you believe the listeners are. I'm
assuming that people are intelligent enough to understand the difference
between going to Saturn with a microphone and DAT recorder and going there
with a radio. In the same way that they're intelligent enough to understand
that short wave radio spikes and squeals are what lightning sounds like on
a radio, and different to the thunder that's a purely acoustic effect.


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