Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Scream Science

Every Year groups of young people go out and pay lots of money to get scared and scream! Halloween is the opportunity to scare people to get a good scream. If you have never been to a hunted house before, here is a funny video of lots of people screaming. It is a little scary so be warned.

My curiosity asked, "How does the human body scream?"

Good question me, here is how the human body makes sound.

In short, your voice is like a musical instrument. Let us compare this to a violin. In a violin there are 3 main parts needed to make sound:The bow, the strings, and the chamber. The bow or your fingers provide the power needed to make sound. The strings vibrate. The chamber or hollow body of the violin makes allows the sound to resonate.

The human body also has a power source, vibrator, and resonator. The power comes form the lungs. The voice box or vocal cords provide th vibration. The mouth and nose provide the resonance.

That all you need to scream! With power in your lungs, strong vocal cords, and your mouth opened wide, you are ready to scream this Halloween.

Enjoy the scare.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Spooky Sounds

Imagine, you're sitting alone one hot summer night, enjoying a nice book underneath your ceiling fan. The cool breeze is initially calming, but then you start to feel uneasy. You look up, distracted from your book, but find nothing out of the ordinary, so you shake it off and go back to reading. A few minutes later, you still feel like someone is watching you, and, afraid to move and look up from your novel, you realize there is a gray blob standing at the edge of your vision. Watching you. You finally jerk your head up to see who's there, but the figure has disappeared.

Obviously, your house is haunted.

Photo: From

...or maybe not. I briefly talked about infrasound before here, and it turns out that it is likely also the cause of psychological effects which are commonly attributed to ghosts. You can read all about it in this paper by Vic Tandy and Tony R. Lawrence, published in the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, but infrasound is basically sound waves just below what humans can hear, about 20hz.

First, let's talk about that 'creepy' feeling that you got while you were reading, like someone is behind you or watching you. Many objects vibrate at these low frequencies, such as your ceiling fan from the intro story, and, because people can't consciously sense it, they tend to feel that something supernatural is at work.

Next, seeing shapes out of the corners of your eyes. In the paper, Vic Tandy recounts working in a supposedly haunted lab, where he discovered that the extractor fan was vibrating at about 19Hz, very close to what NASA sites as the resonant frequency of the eye. Basically, the low sound waves vibrate your eyes, making you see shapes that aren't there.

So this Halloween, if you feel like making your friend think their house is haunted, try using their computer to go to this website, turn their speakers full blast, and leave their computer on.

Photo: A Place to be Happy

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Internet is my Manager

When you hear a new band or a new song, where do you hear it? The radio? No most likely from some source on the internet such as Pandora or YouTube or someone posted it on their Facebook page. In some of our other posts, we've talked about different uses for sound and music, but today I'm here to talk to you about how we distribute music.

When we think about music 10 years ago, the only way to get a new song was by buying a CD. And the way to hear new music was either by the radio or a friend told you. As an artist, the best way to publicize your music, you needed to hire a manager but now and days, the role of manager has switched more to the internet. Where being popular on Facebook or Twitter is more important that skill and talent.

Kristin Thompson, a reporter for Future of Music, participated in the 10th San Fran MusicTech Summit in San Francisco, CA. Here she interviewed several different artists and drew on some conclusions.

First she asked about what technologies these artists used.

As you can see, Facebook, blogs, and YouTube are where over 40% of the artist promote their music. And as this trend continues, artist become more and more comfortable with the internet.

So the question to ask yourself is where does this leave managers? Is it too easy for musicians to be promoted and is that necessary a problem? Is artist success based just on popularity or still focused on talent? 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Jam session!

As a part of our course work we were assigned to create a video to accompany our topic. The idea of this video was to entertain you and maybe teach you something that you didn't already know about sound. Please let us know what you think about Sound of Science's video debut!

Some key terms to make note of are frequency, amplitude, sound waves, timbre.

Sound Waves - They are basically sine waves caused by the vibration of an object that the enter the ear with varying frequency and amplitudes. It's what everyone listens to everyday.
Frequency - How high the noise sounds, or pitch.This is effected by how close together the sound waves are. Higher frequency (faster) causes higher pitched sounds.
Amplitude - How loud something sounds. This is caused by the height of the sine wave; higher amplitude waves are louder than lower amplitude.
Timbre - The quality that differentiates one sound from another that has the same pitch (frequency) and loudness (amplitude).

soundwave not the transformer

And now for the fun part!

background music by: Antoine Smith

Hope you enjoyed our Video and learned something new, for more information on fun sounds with beer bottles check out this link

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Sounds like learning...

So,ifIweretotalklikeyouaretryingtoreadthis, no one would understand a thing I was trying to say! Well, for some children that have a difficult time listening and paying attention, differences in speech acoustics can be just as hard to understand as the mash of words at the beginning of this post. So really the stubborn toddler may not be trying to drive you crazy- they just don't get what you're saying!

According to a study by Nina Kraus, Therese McGee, Thomas Carrell, Steven Zecker, Trent Nicol and Dawn Koch of Northwestern University and the University of Nebraska studied the affects of problems discriminating "rapid acoustic changes that occur in speech."
In their study they found that some of the problems may be caused by defects in the auditory pathways (affected by the nervous system) before the child can consciously interpret what they are hearing. Specific therapy programs may be able to help bridge the miscommunication: "previous research shows that speech-sound perception can be modified by training".
Learning more about the specific acoustic disturbances could lead to specialized treatment plans to assist children with ADD and other learning and attention disabilities.

With a family member that teaches at the elementary school level its very easy for me to imagine the amazing benefits the proposed therapy treatment could have in a classroom. With growing class sizes and drastic changes in demographics and attitudes towards school,  streamlining classroom focus and taking a little extra time to encourage learning ability certainly wouldn't be a bad thing!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Bombs Underwater

One day, you and a friend are scuba diving off the shores of your favorite Pacific island. Its a normal sunny day, and you are watching a school of fish while your friend is off exploring a rock. Then all of a sudden the fish scatter and you hear a thunderous boom, scaring the crap out of you and the fish. Using those survival instincts you swim to the shore for safety and grab your buddy on the way. Your buddy is confused because did not hear anything, but you heard a bomb go off. So what happened?

Science! Underwater sound moves funny and far according to this math heavy article.

Really funny and

really far.

So what happened was, a bomb went off thousands of miles away and you hear it! Lucky you. The fun and magical properties of the deep sea allows sound to move or propagate in horizontal channels. These properties mainly deal with temperature and pressure at different depths. The result is low, or deep bass sounds, can move very far distances underwater. One time a 1.8 kg of TNT (very small) was detected over 19 thousand km away (very far). That less energy than a gallon of gas and almost half way around the earth!

So the next time you are under the sea and hear a large noise, don't panic, it can be miles and miles away.