Saturday, September 29, 2012

Talking Monkeys!

Yellow Hat Curious George

Talking about monkeys I go straight to curious george, a family favorite. He is always up to some kind of mischeif and and is super curious about the world. No matter what the monkey, most people can agree that the little curious ones are hard to resist if not super cute(see below).

Baby Monkey so Cute?

Well even though its cute, monkeys can be quite the handful. Did you ever notice how in the TV show that Yellow Hat Man is always talking to George as if they both understand each other? Well in 2001 there was a study conducted trying to decipher how monkeys heard, specifically Rhesus Monkeys. In the article here you will find a lot of sciency jargon that will either blow your mind or make you go wha?? O.o
Like it did to me the first few times. The gist of it is that this species is more attuned to listening to complex sounds rather than simple ones or tunes. Their language is becoming more complex! They probably wont be speaking english any time soon, but from the results of the experiments and the data they collected they may in the future. Just take a look at their speech/sound patterns below.

Makes you wonder what other animals may develop this complex way of thinking. Dogs maybe, who knows. We will probably have to run this sound analysis on them in the future.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Shake your Tail Feather

Flit from Pocahontas!

Almost everyone can agree that hummingbirds are cuuuuute (as evidenced above). We know that hummingbirds sing, but did you also know that certain species can create music using only their tail feathers? Last year, this study was published in order to more fully understand how this happens.

It turns out that only male hummingbirds produce the "songs" and, of course, they do it to impress the lady hummingbirds during a mating dance: they fly high up into the air and then shoot down like a rocket, produce the sounds, and presumably, capture the lady bird's heart.

Using wind tunnels, the researchers recreated this courtship dive and discovered that several feathers on the edges of the bird's tails vibrate, creating sound waves. The reason that these sound waves are so loud (for such a tiny bird) is that the feathers vibrate together, creating sympathetic vibrations; in other words, the sound waves stack on top of each other and increase loudness.

In reality, the "song" created by the tail feathers is really more of a small chirp (the video below plays this sound a couple of times times before the narrator comes in), but it is still quite an impressive and unique evolutionary perk!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Wait, who wrote that?

With new music coming out every day, isn't it all starting to sound the same? Have you ever listened to a song and said "Hey that sounds familiar?" Well lets take a look.

This song focus on just how 4 chords are used over and over in songs. How such a simple pattern can have so many possibilities. But what if we take this idea into the computer realm. Software is now being created where it loads music from several sources such as Mozart and Beethoven and from those sources finds certain types of patterns and starts to "compose" its own music. Triumph of the Cyborg Composer is an article on David Cope's software that does just that. He developed a program call Emily Howell to create some beautiful works of art. You can listen to some samples right here:

But I'm not here to talk about how does the music sound or how the software works, but who gets the credit? If we look at the samples above, who wrote them? One of the obvious answers is David Cope. He created the software, he created the music. But is that true? Could one say Emily Howell created it? But that's just a program, right? Or is it the original composers who created these patterns in the first place? 

Whatever or whoever you think deserves credit, one thing can be certain, we are pushing into a new realm of music. A realm where computers can figure out what we like and create new songs on the fly and the role of composing music is diminishing and the same four chords can be used to write any song.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Mind, Body, Music!

Even after watching the movie Legally Blonde for the umpteenth time I still laugh when Elle Woods explains how her client, a queen of workout videos is innocent: "Exercise releases endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don't shoot their husbands, they just don't!"

This got me to thinking if exercise makes people feel happy, but exercising in silence is pretty awful- at least in my world,  then listening to music has to make working out better (somehow)! And as it just so happens various other people must have had the same thought.

Costas Karageorghis and David-Lee Priest from Brunel University studied the affects music has on exercising after learning that the 2007 New York Marathon had banned participants from listening to music during the race. Karageorghis and Priest determined that " can influence preparation and competitive performances: dissociation, arousal regulation, synchronization, acquisition of motor skills, and attainment of flow." 

Charles Emery from Ohio State University did similar research and determined "Listening to music may influence cognitive function through different pathways in the brain. The combination of music and exercise may stimulate and increase cognitive arousal while helping to organize cognitive output." Emery has also done testing to see the effects different types of music!

So while you consider the impacts of music on the mind and body check out this sweet video! It is a pretty good argument for the "acquisition of motor" skills by music!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Shut Your Face Gun

There are many interesting gadgets and fun toys out there. Once in a while one grabs your imagination and does not let go. For me it was this Speech Jammer.

This invention uses the principle of Delayed Auditory Feedback(DAF) to produce the desired effect of confusion and silence. By adding a small delay to the targets voice the Jammer confuses the person's ability to hear themselves and disrupts the brains ability to put together sentences.

When I saw this video, I got excited and said to my friend , "We should make one!" Then we did and made a crappy video.
It did not work as well as we hoped but did does confuses the crap out of people. In the process of making and experimenting with our gun we learned that it only works on people speaking in their native tongue.  Also DAF was originally used to help people with stutters correct their speech as seen here.
 So it turns out that a discovery to help people to stop stuttering causes others to stop speaking. One man's cure is another's poison. I hope you found the Speech Jammer as interesting as I did. If you make one your self, let me know by commenting below. Also if you know of any other cool sound gizmos, post those below as well. Till next time.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Healing with Sound

My Mom

Wolverine from the X-Men: Renowned for his "Healing Factor"

Wolverine is the first person I think about when the words "accelerated healing" are used to described anything. Growing up as a kid he was always a favorite because he was near invincible with his healing factor, he could recover from almost any injury. This unique power is something that most patients wish they could have even if they don't know who Wolverine is. Accelerated healing is something that medical researchers have studied and experimented with to aid in the recovery process of patients. One such study they have done and implemented is the use of ultrasound to help heal non-unions (i.e. a  fracture that lacks potential to heal without further intervention) and fresh fractures.

This has all the sciency information
But is full of jargon and kinda boring

The video above tells the science behind the technology and how it all works. Basically what it does is it sends low-intensity pulsed ultrasound (i.e. Sound frequency above the upper limit of the range of human hearing) that stimulates blood flow. In the first few weeks the stimulation helps form new blood vessels, later during the second half of its usage it promotes soft callous growth. It is a quite simple treatment that is painless and applied for only 20 minutes a day for a couple of months or until satisfactory healing is achieved.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Sound Can Hurt

If there is one thing that you all on the internet know, it's that some sounds can be pretty awful all on their own:

However, the army has recently been taking the same idea into account for a new(ish) type of nonlethal weapon. A long range acoustic device (LRAD) is used to direct infrasonic waves to a specific area and is capable of causing hearing damage from hundreds of feet away with no damage to the person standing behind the device operating it. An LRAD was even used back in 2005 to deter pirates from attacking a cruise ship, the Seaborn Spirit (if you want to learn more about that particular incident, that link is to the BBC story).

Unlike the speakers in your car, which use one giant speaker to move back and forth and produce sound, an LRAD works by moving thousands of teeny tiny little cells (like mini speakers) at a time. This winds up being much more effective as all of the small waves stack together to make a huge amplitude sound wave.

If you'd like to learn some more about how an LRAD works, this how stuff works article has some great visuals and explanations: How LRAD Works

Monday, September 10, 2012

What is music?

We all hear sounds as we walk down the street, the sound of the cars driving by, the street sweepers, maybe even a baby crying. No one ever thinks of sweeping the street or taking out the trash as music, right? Well what about STOMP, a musical group that uses items such as trash cans and brooms to generate sounds and rhythm? Is this music? (STOMP: BROOMS video) Mark Applebaum also asks this question. His motivation behind what he does it the fact that he gets bored with the music now. So he stretches the meaning of music as he invents his own instruments (Mark Applebaum video). The idea the music is not just sounds but an art and a science will always push innovation and creativity to the modern world.