Re: (More) Cool sounds from outer space!

Subject: Re: (More) Cool sounds from outer space!
From: David Campbell (
Date: Sun Jul 31 2005 - 09:52:10 EDT

Well said Shane. I was just thinking of a similar thing myself. In the pages
of every Astronomy magazine, as well as a plethora of web-sites, there are
stunning pictures of nebulas and other space images. If you read the fine
print you find that these images have been time-compressed, transposed to
visible frequencies, super-imposed and treated with any number of filters. I
think of these space sounds as a being the same thing from an audio
perspective. This is data taken from space and manipulated so it is
perceivable. It may inspire awe or not, but it is hardly a sham or a dupe.

Shane Turner said:
> Exactly. The real world, and what we see come out of a laboratory are two
> completely different things. X-rays are far outside the spectrum of
> visible light... even the "colors" seen in such images can be faked by
> taking three different wavelengths and assigning a color value to them.
> We as humans often take things outside of our limited senses and adapt
> them so that we can see, feel them. This recording of the Aurora done
> here on Earth, is no different in that aspect. The interest being,
> obviously, that the original wavelengths were the same as that of audio
> frequencies. The curiosity being.. "what do these waveforms sound like?"
> But the original question raised here was that people were saying it was
> beautiful. The old saying stands: Beauty is entirely in the eye of the
> beholder. Especially of natural phenomena, or anything related to it.
> Someone saying "the sound of the thunder.." or "this sound is beautiful"
> is merely one point of view. As is someone telling everyone else that
> they are not allowed to like it!
> --shane turner
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Richard Wentk" <>
> To: <>
> Sent: Sunday, July 31, 2005 7:02 AM
> Subject: Re: (More) Cool sounds from outer space!
>> 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.
>> Richard

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